“This church just means so much to that entire community, our entire community, not just the Ford City community.” said City Councillor Percy Hatfield at City council tonight.
City Council has decided not to go forward and buy Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Ford City. Tonight’s decision comes after administration at the City of Windsor recommended not to pursue the purchase of the former Catholic church on Riverside Drive.
Our Lady of the Rosary, a staple of the Ford City area on Riverside Drive and Drouillard, was closed in 2007 and its fate has been unknown since.
Mayor Eddie Francis repeatedly stated “This Church will be preserved,” stressing the will and making reference to numerous options available to the property owner, the Diocese of London, to repurpose the site.
Back in 2009 the Diocese of London put forth an offer for the City of Windsor to take possession of the iconic, early 1900′s Ford City cathedral for only a single dollar.
City Council commissioned a study to determine the scope and costs to repair the building and prepare it for possible uses such as a community centre or a museum.
The church was built-in 1907 after a fire destroyed the previous church on the site, Our Lady of the Lake. Designed in the “Renaissance Revival” style, it features twin belltower spires and a grand curving staircase visible from Riverside Drive.
During prohibition in the United States, rum-running boats which crossed the Detroit River at night relied on lighted areas on shore to act as navigational beacons. An interesting rumoured tale: Al Capone, himself, paid for the replacement of burnt-out lightbulbs at Our Lady of the Rosary to allow for rumrunning to continue toward a lighted point on shore.
After an extensive study that identified nearly $1.8 million dollars in necessary repairs, City of Windsor Administration recommended that they were “not interested in pursuing acquisition of this facility”, and that “it is not the City’s mandate to purchase buildings…with no existing identified municipal use”.
The future use of the building is uncertain, however the structure is protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.