Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Fight to Save the Church of the Assumption

Amidst car washes, gas stations and parking lots stands the forgotten edifice of the Church of the Assumption. A nostalgic relic of Philadelphia's past when spires and domes towered over the low expanse of row houses and mansions, which dominated nineteenth century Spring Garden. Presently, this majestic neo-gothic structure is being threatened with demolition by its owner, Siloam Wellness. The non-profit AIDS/HIV organization is intending to raze the structure on the grounds for financial hardship and as of September 10, 2010 the Historical Commission has granted Siloam a permit for demolition. However, the Callowhill Neighborhood Association with the support of the preservation community has appealed the demolition permission to the Licenses and Inspection review board who will ultimately provide a ruling on March 28.
The Church of the Assumption was erected in 1848-1849 and is considered to be a prolific example of American ecclesiastical architecture . It was designed and built by noted architect, Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896) who had built over 600 churches during his career. Assumption Church is the oldest extant Keely structure in the country and subsequently possesses great architectural and historical significance. In addition, John Neumann helped consecrate the church and Katherine Drexel was baptized there. Both became Catholic saints.

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