The news of the Friday night five-alarm fire that torched St. Cecilia’s Church at Davis and Mary Cliff didn’t reach neighbor Barry Kooda until the next morning. He lives in L.O. Daniel on Montreal, roughly three blocks away from the church that has been a neighborhood landmark since 1933, and says he “hightailed it over” as soon as he heard.
Kooda found the Knights of Columbus there boarding up windows, and quickly returned home to grab some tools to help them. When he took a break, Kooda started snapping photos of the debris within the shell of St. Cecilia’s.
“I’m not a Catholic, but that’s my neighborhood church, for me and a lot of people,” Kooda says. “I thought they were going to rebuild it for the longest time. That’s really something we’re going to miss — it’s an iconic part of the neighborhood.”
Kooda has a keen interest in urban decay, including the demolition and deconstruction of buildings. He’s part of the Urban Exploration Resource, a group of photographers worldwide who capture and document such locations — often surreptitiously. Their motto is: “Take only photos, leave only footprints.”
On top of his initial visit following the fire, Kooda stopped by the St. Cecilia’s site four or five times during the demolition process earlier this year, and his photos tell the story of a church building’s untimely end.