Vote Denies Landmark Status
Rockford Council Falls Short; Cathedral Campus Fate Stays with Diocese
By Observer Staff
May 9, 2019
ROCKFORD—The Rockford City Council, after months of consideration, voted on whether or not to grant landmark designation to three buildings located on the Cathedral of St. Peter campus here May 6.
Because landmark status was sought against the wishes of the Diocese of Rockford and the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish as owners, a super majority of 10 votes was required to landmark the buildings.
The vote fell short by three. Seven council members voted for designation while six voted against it. One council member was absent. The vote ended months of uncertainty and sometimes contentious debate on whether or not the buildings were historic. 
Those fighting to save “Piety Hill” argued that if the diocese did not have a use for the buildings they should be sold for commercial or mixed use. While the Cathedral of St. Peter and Diocese of Rockford have no mission-oriented use for the buildings, they never considered selling the land that currently is home to the school, a playground and community gardens.
Now that landmark status has been denied, no further petitions for such a designation can be filed for three years.
Following the vote, the diocese issued the following statement: 
“The Diocese of Rockford is very pleased with the City Council’s decision to deny landmark status to the three buildings on the Cathedral of St. Peter campus in Rockford. 
“We know this was a difficult decision and we appreciate the attention paid by the council members to the facts surrounding this matter. We are gratified that this decision upholds the City’s procedures and respects the rights of property owners no matter who they might be. 
“We too, appreciate their respect in upholding the  constitutional right of religious communities to exercise their faith on their land, in their buildings and in their decisions.
“We also thank the local community as well as our entire diocesan family for their interest in this matter and hope they will join in welcoming the next chapter in the life and use of the Cathedral campus property. 
“In this month in which we celebrate our Blessed Mother Mary, we look forward to creating a place of honor for her on this campus. We especially look forward to bringing new life to the neighborhood and providing a beautiful and peaceful gathering space for all people including the Catholics in all 11 counties of our diocese to visit and enjoy.”
After learning of the City Council’s decision Bishop David Malloy told The Observer, “I am grateful to all those who support the decisions made for the good of all people in the Diocese of Rockford. 
“I am also grateful,” he continued, “for the process in place that has allowed those decisions to be made especially as they pertain to the former chancery, former convent and Cathedral of St. Peter School in Rockford.
“My prayer now is that we, as a diocesan family, can unite together in our prayer and look forward to the next chapter of faith expression and practice on our Cathedral campus,” he concluded.
The diocese and the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish announced plans in November 2018 to raze the former convent and former chancery to make way for additional Cathedral parking and two prayer gardens. One garden will honor the patroness of the Rockford Diocese and one will honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. Plans were halted when petitions for landmark status were filed by the Friends of Ziock, a Rockford preservation group.
At press time for this issue, plans were being made to file for the proper permits from the City of Rockford in order to move forward to “a new chapter in the life of the spiritual center of the diocese,” Bishop Malloy said.