Churches for sale tell tale of a secular shift

Hallowed grounds in many Philadelphia neighborhoods are not what they used to be — like vacant Catholic churches up for sale and synagogues that have been converted into condominiums.

More secular than perhaps ever before, the city’s population is now witness to a sell-off of places of worship by many denominations, most notably the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which, according to one real estate consultant recently, has about 20 buildings up for sale.

One observer of the city’s churn toward fewer religious sites said the fabric of certain neighborhoods is torn loose by such sell-offs.

“These buildings aren’t just a building,” said Patrick Hildebrandt, facilitator of the Philadelphia Church Project, a website on religious architecture in decline. “They are a living history of a person, of a family, of a neighborhood. To take away one of these buildings is to take away from the fabric of the community.”

The Church of the Assumption on the city’s Spring Garden Street is the most prominent example. The city Historical Commission has voted to permit demolition of the twin-steeple building which Cardinal John Neumann helped consecrate in 1854. The Archdiocese declined to comment for this story.

“Every denomination in the city is suffering the same issue,” said Bob Jaeger of Partners for Sacred Spaces, a national nonprofit that helps maintain historic religious properties.

End for churches

North Philadelphia, one of the city’s most economically challenged sections, has been hit hard by closings, especially Catholic churches. Lux Rivera, who with her husband owns and operates a laundromat, attended St. Boniface for eight years before it was shut down. When it closed, items from the interior were sold or given away.

Rivera said her daughter’s godfather purchased the church’s Stations of the Cross for $100 at a parish sidewalk sale and Rivera had a new door to her home crafted from its wooden pews.
“It’s very sad that the church closed,” said Rivera who now attends Mass at other Catholic sites like a Spanish chapel at 19th and Spring Garden streets.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."