"Sinful, smashed to bits," said one man mourning the loss of two Parnell homes from the 1800s and early 1900s, after a digger moved on to the site beside Holy Trinity Cathedral this week to pull the places apart.

The Anglican Church said it needed the land to lease for townhouses so it can afford $300,000-plus annual upkeep on its other properties. But native timber weatherboards, windows, staircases, doors and other century-old fittings were reduced to rubble when a digger moved in.

Use our interactive tool below in the image to show before-and-after at one of the two sites: 1a

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