Damaged iconic church closed to public, future in question

TACOMA, Wash.—An iconic house of worship in the South Sound, about to turn 100-years-old, is sadly falling to pieces.

You’ve probably seen Holy Rosary Catholic Church – it’s hard to miss in downtown Tacoma or from Interstate-5.

But the structure needs help – and millions of dollars – before the structure is safe for the parish to worship inside again.

The church was first established in the 1890’s, but the towering structure seen today was built in about 30 years later.

That means in 2020, the impressive building will turn a century and it’s been watching over Tacoma all those years.

“I like having the church here,” said neighbor Dean Benninghoven. “I hear the bells sometimes and it takes me back a bit.”

Benninghoven lives nearby and says he loves how the building’s aesthetic adds to his neighborhood’s charm.

“It’s a beautiful structure, I love architecture,” he added.

But, last November, a patch of ceiling collapsed and after further inspection the local parish found even more problems.

“Ceiling plaster fell into the choir loft area of the church and there’s concern that there could be other portions of the ceiling could fall,” said Archdiocese of Seattle spokesperson Joe Sprague. “The decision was made to close the church.”

Combine that with a dwindling number of people attending mass a the facility, officials are considering options.

“The parish community, the faith community of Holy Rosary, is smaller than it once was,” said Sprague. “So that’s another factor we have to take into account.”

The Archdiocese of Seattle says it’s working with Holy Rosary to come up with a plan for the structure and the parishioners.

But until that plan includes saving the church neighbors wonder if the iconic house of worship will remain off limits and wonder if it will live to see another 100 years in Tacoma.

“We’re going to be sorry if we as a community let the buildings go,” said Benninghoven.

While the Archdiocese of Seattle tells Q13 News it is looking for ways to support not only Holy Rosary but also its parish, the Holy Rosary Bilingual Academy operating next door has not been impacted.