I’ve written before about the tragic state of affairs regarding this iconic structure in Fall River. When I last wrote I included a video showing the interior damage resultant of vandals breaking into the building.
In today’s Fall River Herald News we have an update as to the probable fate of this magnificent building. During the last 3 years the structure was left to decay both by the City of Fall River and the owner, Millineum Bank. Perhaps the Bank is rattling a cage to see how the City and its citizens will respond as Jim Soule, President of the Preservation Society thinks. But the cancer that has spread within this “church” is terminal. It has been in a stage of remission more than once. But now it’s on its last breath.
Coincidentally, within the past week I was contacted via email and Facebook by “Adam Banville” of Fall River telling me he had in his home pew #22 (which was at one time the Andrew Borden family pew).
He gave me his phone number and we had a long conversation about how he obtained the pew and the future of the structure. He said his wife worked for the bank that owned it, and when vandals broke in (see my above referenced post) he retrieved the pew from where it had been stored when it was converted to a culinary arts school and restaurant (the upper level of the main “church” floor). Adam said he didn’t think the the Central Congregational Church would be torn down because of its historical building status. I find that statement curious given that he told me his wife worked for the bank. Well, perhaps she did not know about “the letter”. 🙂
In any case, I personally think the CCC will meet its destiny – the wrecking ball. While Al Lima states: “We saved it once….we can save it again”, I think of another structure – another beautiful and once iconic structure – the Fall River City Hall. The City, community, and citizens weren’t able to save that in the 1960’s. Fifty years later, there is even more of a general apathy to Fall River’s past by its citizens. I could be wrong. I hope so. But I’m a realist.
Meanwhile, here’s a timeline which appeared as a companion article to the FRHN report:
1875 Central Congregational Church, designed by the prestigious Hartwell and Swazey firm, begins operating at 100 Rock St. as one of the largest churches in the city.
1892 Lizzie Borden was active and was a Sunday school teacher at Central Congregational Church before she was accused of murdering her father and step-mother in their Second Street Home.
1984 The Central Congregational Church and First United Presbyterian Church merge to form the new United Parish of Fall River at 100 Rock St.
1989 The United Parish of Fall River plans to demolish the Rock Street building and operate a parking lot.
1991 The Save Architecturally Valued Edifices purchases the church property for $450,000 from the United Parish of Fall River.
1993 When SAVE cannot make its mortgage payments, the United Parish of Fall River gives the property to SAVE.
1997 The International Institute of Culinary Arts, Abbey Grill and Great Hall open.
2003 Bricks begin falling from the church steeple.
2008 As more bricks fall from the steeple, it is covered with a black mesh wrap.
2009 The International Institute of Culinary Arts, Abbey Grill and Great Hall closes. Its assets are sold off.”