Rockford City Hall Delays Old Chancery Demolition
Rockford group seeks historic status for the 1929 building
January 10, 2019
ROCKFORD—Planned demolition of a former parish convent and the former diocesan chancery building, scheduled for safety reasons during the Christmas break at the Cathedral of St. Peter School, was denied by the City of Rockford just days before the buildings were to be razed. 
Work was halted because a local Rockford group called the Friends of Ziock filed petitions to seek landmark designation for the former chancery and then filed an additional application to landmark the former convent and the current Cathedral of St. Peter elementary school.
The City of Rockford also halted work at the former  chancery building accusing the diocese of conducting demolition without a permit. 
According to Brian Heinkel, property manager for the Rockford Diocese, the only work being done at the building was legally required asbestos abatement and removal of diocesan decorative property, work that does not constitute demolition.
The diocese issued a press release in response to the city’s action and reports in the Rockford area media. 
The statement said, “The Diocese of Rockford hired a professional asbestos abatement company to abate the asbestos contained in the 1245 N. Court St. building, as required by law prior to a demolition.”
It continued, “There is no requirement to obtain a permit from the City of Rockford in order to conduct asbestos abatement. The asbestos abatement company has not conducted demolition of the property.
The diocese has removed and has authorized removal of diocesan property from the 1245 N. Court St. building for repurposing, as is a property owner’s right, and a demolition permit is not required in that instance.”
Should the petitioners prevail in declaring the buildings landmarks, the Diocese of Rockford would be prohibited from razing the buildings. It  also would be mandated to maintain the buildings according to strict standards whether the buildings are in use or not.  
Ellen Lynch, chancellor of the Rockford Diocese, said being forced to maintain the buildings under landmark standards would place significant financial burdens on the diocese and parish and impede those entities’ future plans or ministries on that property.
“Being forced to divert funds from parishes, schools and ministries across our 11 counties in northern Illinois to renovate a building or buildings, at a cost to the people of the Diocese of Rockford of an estimated $3 million or more for the chancery building is unjust,” Lynch said.
A meeting of the Rockford Historic Preservation Commission was scheduled Jan. 8 after press time to establish a public hearing date for the landmark application for the former chancery building and a separate hearing date for the landmark application for the former convent and the Cathedral of St. Peter School. Those hearing dates must occur within 60 days of the filing of the landmark applications.
The diocese and the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish will be represented at these hearings by the law firm of Hinshaw and Culbertson.
Catholics who want to join the opposition to these landmark petitions should contact the City of Rockford and its aldermen and women.
Names and contact information are available at and