December 15, 2012 |
Let's face it, historic buildings get torn down all the time in Philadelphia, a city with more fine architecture than anyone knows what to do with. But not many of the casualties are under the special protection of the city's Historical Commission. That's what makes the threatened demolition of the Church of the Assumption so troubling. In 2009, the future of the North Philadelphia landmark looked, if not exactly rosy, then quite hopeful. The 19th-century church where the Catholic saint Katharine Drexel was baptized had just earned a place on the commission's selective Historic Register, the strongest safeguard against demolition.
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.
March 15, 2013 |
In a deal that could have wide ramifications for Philadelphia, the Preservation Alliance has dropped its legal opposition to demolishing two landmarked church buildings in West Philadelphia after the property's developer agreed to create a fund to preserve the main church, the Episcopal Cathedral. The proposed demolition of the two brownstones to make way for a 25-story apartment tower provoked an outcry among preservationists because the properties were listed on both the city and national historic registers.
February 1, 2012 |
With the recent announcement that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would close or merge 34 Catholic schools in Philadelphia, a city already yoked with an unenviable number of vacant lots and deteriorating buildings (not to mention surface parking lots), is presented with a fresh inventory whose decay potentially starts now. While the educational challenges presented by these changes are daunting, and many schools are battling to remain active (and I do hope they succeed), forethought should be given to the potential reuse of these buildings so that they can continue to serve their neighborhoods.
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.
March 29, 2013 |
YANGON, Myanmar - President Thein Sein said Thursday that his government would use force if necessary to quell deadly religious rioting that started last week, as attacks on Muslims by Buddhist mobs continued in several towns. In his first public comments on the violence, Thein Sein warned in a televised speech that he would make all legal efforts to stop "political opportunists and religious extremists" trying to sow hatred between faiths. Police announced Thursday that 42 people had been killed, 37 religious buildings and 1,227 houses damaged or destroyed, and 68 arrests made in the three affected regions since unrest started March 20. The violence began with rioting by Buddhists targeting minority Muslims in the central city of Meikhtila that drove about 12,000 people from their homes.
May 10, 1987 |
A proposal to build four church buildings on a 24.3-acre tract in West Goshen Township has been rejected by zoning officials because the project's plans lacked required information. The Christ Community Church, at 1244 West Chester Pike, had proposed constructing a church, school building, and administrative centers at the southeast and southwest corners of Ashbridge and Greenhill Roads, on a tract zoned for residential use. The church had submitted a draft of the project to the West Goshen Zoning Hearing Board, which must review all proposals to construct religious buildings in residential districts.
August 26, 1998 |
Our region's oldest religious buildings represent an enduring connection between people divided into suburb and city, white and black, rich and poor. After two generations of suburbanization and population loss, many congregations in the city have dissolved or moved to the suburban counties. Yet the buildings endure in older neighborhoods like North Philadelphia. And, in many cases, new congregations with different denominations inherit the historic properties of earlier residents.
September 17, 1989 |
Saving old buildings, as any preservationist can tell you, requires imagination, ingenuity and, sometimes, fervent prayer. It took all three to pull off the conversion of the Church of the New Jerusalem, the Swedenborgian church at 22d and Chestnut Streets, into a modern corporate headquarters. The result is a mixed blessing. The bottom line is that a fine old Victorian church has been saved, with many of its features conscientiously restored or successfully rehabilitated. But other changes required to turn the church into a modern, functional office building, even if necessary, can't help causing preservationists concern.
March 19, 1994 |
Alfred "Al" Panepinto, 86, a well-known architect in the Philadelphia area for more than 40 years, died March 12 in Fort Collins, Colo. Mr. Panepinto, whose passions were art and architecture, spent 35 years working for J. Howard Pew at Sun Oil. In 50 years, he designed a wide range of industrial, educational and religious buildings, from classrooms to a convent. His last project, one of his favorites, was the Columbus Memorial completed in Norristown in 1992. A self-taught cartoonist and avid painter, he did portraits of Casey Stengel, Bing Crosby, Leopold Stokowski, Pope John XXIII and many other famous people, and traveled from Shea Stadium to the Vatican to have them autographed.