January 12, 2012 |
THE REV. VINCENT SMITH was looking at the sky through one of the two gaping holes in the roof of Point Breeze's 19th Street Baptist Church and wondering when he could bring his congregation home. For the past five years, his 100 parishioners have worshipped in an adjoining building, forced to leave their sanctuary - designed by acclaimed architect Frank Furness and built in 1875 - because of the roof and other structural problems. "It can be a little discouraging to some.
March 11, 2011 |
The Church of the Assumption gets its final shot at redemption Monday. That's when the Callowhill Neighborhood Association will make a last-ditch appeal to Philadelphia building officials to halt the planned demolition of the landmark Spring Garden Street church where the Catholic saint Katharine Drexel was baptized. As hopeless causes go, the Assumption's chances look better than most. Not only does the ocher-colored church have a skilled and determined neighborhood group in its corner, it has the good fortune to be located in a reviving neighborhood, a brisk 10-minute walk from City Hall.
February 7, 2011
We were very pleased with David O'Reilly's coverage of our pilot "Economic Halo" research project highlighting the significant positive impact congregations have on Philadelphia's economy ("What's a church worth?" Tuesday). To clarify one point, however, regarding an apparent negative value for the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany: This is due to our use of "rough" census tract data in comparing housing values around a congregation with housing values in neighboring census tracts.
February 1, 2011 |
What is the dollar value of a marriage saved? A suicide averted? An addiction conquered? A teenager taught right from wrong? In short: What is a church's economic worth to the community it serves? Last summer, a University of Pennsylvania professor and a national secular research group based in Center City took up that seemingly unanswerable question. With a list they devised of 54 value categories, they attempted to calculate the economic "halo effect" of a dozen religious congregations in Philadelphia - 10 Protestant churches, a Catholic parish, and a synagogue.
October 25, 2010 |
Its cream walls soar a staggering five stories from the red-carpeted floor, past a wraparound balcony and banks of clerestory windows, to a ceiling of planked oak. As many as 3,200 people can be seated in the Tindley Temple United Methodist Church on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City. Yet on most nights, this grand space is dark and empty, as many houses of worship are. On those same nights, across the Philadelphia region, dozens of struggling theater troupes, dance companies, and musical ensembles are praying for permanent places to perform.
August 7, 2004 |
The gray limestone and sandstone steeple that stood as a towering Christian sentinel over Chestnut Street for nearly 120 years will be rebuilt, leaders of Christ Memorial Church announced yesterday. When the restoration will begin or how long it will take is unclear, but it will likely cost millions, church leaders said. The 170-foot-high steeple collapsed Tuesday night, showering slabs of stone on 43d Street. No was seriously hurt. "We are very grateful that this catastrophe was not compounded by the loss of life," said the Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick, rector of the Grace Reformed Episcopal Church in Collingdale, a sister church that will hold Sunday services for congregants of the temporarily closed West Philadelphia church.
November 2, 1997 |
The stairs creak. Flaked paint crackles under his feet. And he is startled by the dead pigeon on the landing. "What's that doing here?" exclaims the Rev. Isaac M. Smith. But Mr. Smith, 72, laughs and shrugs. Death is no stranger here in North Philadelphia, and so the pastor keeps climbing - past the empty bell tower and up to the third floor of the fellowship hall at Mars Hill Baptist Church. "The engineer said it's structurally sound," he says, glancing around at the boarded Gothic windows, the buckled and water-stained floors, the old electrical wiring and the vaulted ceilings of these long-abandoned rooms, built 107 years ago. And "someday soon," he hopes, it will be transformed.
December 3, 1994 |
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will sell off dozens of windows and other stained-glass artifacts from five North Philadelphia Catholic churches shut down last year under a controversial cost-cutting plan. The public sale, scheduled for today and tomorrow at Corpus Christi Church, 29th Street and Allegheny Avenue, will include religious art from the former parishes of St. Bonaventure, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Elizabeth, St. Henry, and Our Lady of Pompeii. Prices for the relics, including pieces of German and French origin, will range from $20 to $1,500.
September 14, 1989 |
Duncan Wall says his church is beautiful, historic - and a mess. "We're talking $300,000 or more for new electric wiring," says Wall, who is property chairman of the First Unitarian Church on Chestnut Street near 21st. "We're talking another $300,000 to $400,000 easy, for new plumbing . . . We're talking a new heating system . . . roof repairs . . . cementing the stone walls that are separating . . . The stained glass windows need to be reworked . . . We could easily be talking a million dollars or more.
June 6, 1989 |
They were built as houses of worship, places of spiritual solace in America's big cities. But often they were vital parts of the neighborhood around them, places where people met to socialize as well as worship. Churches and synagogues, woven into the fabric of American history, are "such a manifestation of this melting pot we've got," according to A. Robert Jaeger, an expert in the preservation of historic buildings. In more recent times, many became symbols of hope amid urban decay.