CHICAGO (CBS) — A fire that started 40 years ago yesterday accelerated the crumbling of an historic church on Chicago’s near South Side.

The Dec. 22, 1972 fire gutted much of St. James Catholic Church, some of the neo-gothic style limestone building was restored, but not the Tiffany windows.

Preservationists and some parishioners are upset by the Chicago Archdiocese’s plans to demolish the 132 year-old.

“It would break my heart, it really would,” said Jean Douglas. “I wish that they could do something about.”
Other members are more practical, noting Mass has been held in a nearby hall for almost three years while they are working to build a new church on Michigan Avenue.

“We are going to have enough trouble just trying to raise fund for new construction rather than to save this,” said Chuck Lorenz.

There are plans to save the historic bell tower and maybe the organ.

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