WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX47 NEWS - St. Raphael Demolition Begins

Jeff Angileri
Jul 29, 2008, 9:52 PM


After activists failed trying to stop it, demolition began Tuesday of Saint Raphael Cathedral in Madison. Tearful parishioners watched as contractors tore down the bell tower.

Saint Rapheal Cathedral was not only a piece of capitol city history. For thousands of catholics, it was downtown's house of God, and they say watching the demolition was tough to bear.

After standing for more than 150 years, it came crumbling down.

All those years of prayers, and celebrations and funerals, said Janet Bewley of Ashland. And it's just all coming down, almost in slow motion.

People watched from every corner of the city as demolition crews destroyed the holy building, first bringing down the 80-foot-tall bell tower.

The Diocese decided to raze the building after fire ravaged it more than 3 years ago.

It suffered a lot of significant degrade just due to time and weather, said construction superintendent Les Castleberry. The interior because of the heat of the fire, there was damage to the stone on the inside.

Flames also burned out the wood structure and charred the brickwork, but crews were able to salvage some parts of the building.

All the things we can salvage here have been taken out--murals, we took the steeple down in early June, we've salvaged every piece of stained glass in the building, said Castleberry.

Despite those saving graces, people mourned the end of one of Madison's oldest buildings.

You somehow expect more to be happening, said Bewley. Thunderbolts or hymns, or something. It just seems to be such a sad end.

Others put their faith in the future.

Said parishioner Brian Kelly, The process that began with a fire that was so tragic is now reaching its next stage and then hopefully we'll have a brand new cathedral here.

No date has been set for construction, but when it is ready, the preserved steeple from the original will be put on.

Crews expect the building will be completely demolished in less than a week. The clean-up however, could take up to three weeks.

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