SAINT JOHN -- An historic church in Saint John will no longer be a statement to the city with its demolition work already underway.

The Gothic Arches church was first erected 140 years ago, bringing a lot of history with it. Many onlookers came to watch the tear down today, saying it's hard to see it go.

"It's kind of disheartening to see that church go. It's been there forever," said Saint John resident Tim Creamer.

Many in Saint John agree it's a sad loss, but for some, it's even more personal.

"My great-grandfather built this church. He built three churches that were recently closed by the catholic diocese and this one was probably the prettiest of them all," said resident Allan MacDougall.

Like many of the historic buildings in uptown Saint John, Gothic Arches was built in the wake of the great fire in 1877.

Since the church has been unheated for the last ten years, and little to no maintenance on the building in several decades, it's been on the cities dangerous and vacant building list for years.

"The really sad story is the previous owner, who has owned it since the church sold it, have not looked after it, turned the heat off. Speculators that have really just let it, by neglect, go to wreck and ruin. That's the real issue for us," said Saint John councillor, Donna Reardon.

Historian Harold Wright, believes the city will see a lot more demolitions very similar to this one.

"We’re pretty good at demolishing out heritage and then we lament afterwards that it's a shame," said Wright.

The demolition is making way for the construction of a new, high-end apartment complex on the site by local developer, Percy Wilbur.

In a news release, Wilbur says he's highly honoured to transform this site, and he hopes to incorporate many of the architectural elements in the design of the new building.