Villa Chapel

Erie Times News Letter: Erie Must Save Its Architecture

Mar 03 2010

I am grateful for the seven years of elementary education that I received from the Sisters of St. Joseph. They had a keen sense of the law and how to do the right thing. They imparted values and ethics that have made my life much better. They gave me a sense of community, how to help the poor, take care of the elderly, attend to the sick and have a devotion to church. Their instruction made this community a safer, wiser and more moral place to live. It is time for the sisters to come up to bat and do the right thing again. The former Villa Maria Chapel on West Ninth and Plum streets is a beautiful example of Christian architecture. Countless Erieites experienced holy rites in that church and have many memories of its sacramental purpose. It is an anchor of the neighborhood and a part of every Erieite's cultural history. Our sacred buildings make the city richer and our lives holier. My research has found at least five churches that once stood in downtown Erie that are now parking lots. These and other buildings were part of our history. Had we not gone on a demolition derby in the last 60 years, we would have had one of the most beautiful cities in the nation. We have to stop tearing down the culture our ancestors gave us and preserve our architectural treasures. The Sisters of St. Joseph have enormous clout in this city. They can use this influence to keep Villa Chapel functioning as a church, either Catholic or Protestant. The Catholic Diocese of Erie as well could come on board and take a stand for Christian architecture. A building of this beauty to be replaced with a parking lot would be a spiritual disaster. The city and the region need to implement an architectural preservation law that would prevent such a travesty. I ask the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Catholic Diocese and the entire community to do everything possible to save the Villa Chapel. It's the right thing to do. GARY CARDOT. Assistant Professor of Art, Mercyhurst College, Erie

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