Philly loves the wrecking ballJune 14, 2013
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the six deaths in Philly last week due to inept/corrupt slumlords/developers and their love of money and lack of respect for anything else. Now there’s 7 dead; the inspector in charge of the demolition committed suicide.
When it comes to historic building preservation, Philly had a better track record than many other US cities, but lately its record stinks. If you’re a landowner or a developer in the city and you want to take down a historical structure, all you do is sit on the property, board it up and let the elements do their thing. Oh, you can also speed up the process by ripping out all the upper floor windows to make sure the rain gets inside and rots everything a bit faster.
Above is the Monestary of Saint Clare, which consisted of a small church bookended by two very large brownstones, and sat a block away from my house across from Girard College. It was neglected just long enough for the outside wall to cave and topple onto the sidewalk. That was reason enough for the city to grant the developer demolition, and he now wants to stuff over 60 units (basically dorms) onto the tiny lot.
The before and after photos below are (were) the Emmanual Lutheran Church (formerly St. John the Evangelist) at 3rd and Moyamensing in my old hood that just succumbed to the wrecking ball last week. I haven’t heard what is planned for that space, but I could take a wild guess and say condos, and more than 10 units.
The final photo is another church (the 19th Street M.E.) just a half block from me that sat vacant for years until the city deemed it unsafe, then the owner could claim hardship (“it cost too much to maintain- I HAVE to tear it down!”) then quickly built something like six shitty condos.
Even one of the most historically significant churches in the city isn’t immune to the wrecking ball. And it ain’t just churches. The old Schmidts complex was torn down, I mentioned the Ortleibs Brewery previously, and now there’s word the Gretz Brewery is also slated to get the ax. C’mon Philly. We used to be better than this!