Demolition of St. Francis of Assisi Church set to resume

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NORTH ADAMS — Preliminary work is wrapping up and the demolition of St. Francis of Assisi Church is expected to resume in the coming days, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Demolition of the church's steeple concluded more than three weeks ago, the full church required the routine and full assessment work before it comes down. That work is nearing completion, according to Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the diocese.

"The remainder of the work falls under normal guidelines and procedures," Dupont said this week. "We have been working with the building inspector to complete that process, which should be done by as early as Friday."

It was known for years that St. Francis, the oldest catholic church in the city, required major repairs, but the demolition process began last month after a portion of the steeple collapsed and spilled debris to the sidewalk and street below.

In response, the diocese sent in engineers to assess the structure and deemed the entire building would come down.

"The diocesan structural engineer has determined given the scope of the serious conditions identified, the only recourse is demolition," the diocese wrote in a May 15 statement.

The steeple was hastily, but safely, disassembled the following week by a small crew and pair of cranes as portions of Eagle and North Church streets were closed off to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

With the steeple down, the emergency portion of demolition was complete, streets reopened, and the full demolition process began. In the meantime, the church building has stood with its steeple and other rubble lying beside it.

Mayor Richard Alcombright noted there is an environmental assessment process before a building can be demolished. He said he doesn't expect the process to cause any "real delay" to traffic and nearby businesses, but added there would likely be increased truck traffic in the area.

The demolition is expected to last about four weeks.

Building Inspector William Meranti could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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