Community members gather to prevent demolition of historic church in West Philadelphia
Published by John on
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — For more than 130 years, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church has stood tall in West Philadelphia, but community members are upset and frustrated surrounding its planned demolition.
Those who gathered in front of the church, formerly known as Our Lady of Rosary on 63rd and Callowhill streets, say the church is a historic landmark and would like to have a say in its future.
“This church was a pillar for this community, and I think as it was growing, as it’s going to come down, that same consideration should be giving to the people around here,” said Ruth Johnson of West Philadelphia.
Johnson was one of the residents who took unexpected notice to the demolition sign posted on the front door of the church. She says it once was a place remembered for graduations, baptisms, and weddings.
The building was purchased by Boys’ Latin Charter School, as they plan for new growth developments in their network. Christopher Daniels, a teacher in West Philadelphia, says the notice of demolition was not noted in the original contract two years ago.
He believes demolition should not be the answer. “The church has been here since 1887, so whether or not it has that historic designation, it’s still a landmark to a lot of people,” said Daniels.
Boys’ Latin Charter School CEO issued a statement that reads: “We looked at this decision for a long time and looked at a lot of options. The one we chose (demolition) was the least expensive and the one that best serves the needs for our school.” Daniels says while many organizations have approached the owners with different ideas to help with the renovation, he ultimately believes there should always be a balance between new development and preserving community history.
“I think when it comes to historical properties in Philadelphia, you lose out on a history that you can’t necessarily get back,” added Daniels. “Tearing it down just seems so unnecessary.”