Current Advocacy Issues
UPDATE: DEMOLITION DENIED!
On May 17, 2011, the L&I Board voted unanimously in favor of the Callowhill Neighborhood Association, overturning the Philadelphia Historical Commission's demolition approval. Advocates for the historic church are hopeful that this ruling will encourage a prospective new buyer to emerge. However, on June 22nd, 2011, building owner Siloam Inc. announced its decision to appeal the L&I decision to Commonwealth Court. In January 2012, the L&I Board issued its findings in the case, which held that Siloam failed to demonstrate financial hardship sufficient enough to justify demolition of the structure, citing among other evidence the testimony of the Preservation Alliance's John Gallery (click here to download these findings). The case now awaits a ruling by Common Court Pleas Judge Idee Fox.
Church of the Assumption
On March 28, 2011, the City of Philadelphia's Board of Licenses and Inspections concluded hearing an appeal brought by the Callowhill Neighborhood Association contesting the Philadelphia Historical Commission's September 2010 decision to allow the razing of the Church of the Assumption on the basis of the current owner's claimed economic hardship. At issue is whether the church's owners have met the burden of proof to allow demolition based on the infeasibility of stabilization or sale to a new owner. The board's decision whether or not to overturn the Historical Commission's demolition approval is expected shortly.
The church is owned by Siloam, Inc., a not-for-profit social services organization housed in the adjacent rectory building. In October 2010, Siloam unexpectedly suspended its neighborhood services and laid off most of its staff, raising questions about its ability to undertake the building's demolition.
The church has stood at 1123 Spring Garden Street since 1848-- longer than virtually every other building on Spring Garden. It was designed by the famous ecclesiastical architect Patrick Charles Keely, and is his oldest surviving church. Saint John Neumann helped consecrate it, and Saint Katherine Drexel was baptized here. It was listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2009.Supporters of the church continue to seek a preservation-minded buyer for the structure. Stabilization costs have been estimated at $1.5 million, with a full rehabilitation requiring an estimated $5 million. A structural engineer testified to the L&I Board that the church could be "mothballed" for up to five years for as little as $150,000. The church is located in a rapidly-developing area along the northern edge of Center City and could accommodate a number of potential new uses.
CLICK HERE for photographs of the interior from abandonedamerica.org.
Media coverage of the Church of the Assumption:
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