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Archdiocese says Fishtown church to be demolished

St. Laurentius Church at Berk and Memphis streets.Charles Mostoller

About a year after its last Mass was celebrated, the oldest Polish Catholic church in Philadelphia is set to be demolished.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday that St. Laurentius in Fishtown will be demolished.

Despite conservancy efforts by former parishioners who united as Save St. Laurentius and filed an appeal to the Vatican, which is currently pending, the Archdiocese determined that demolition was the best option.

“To attempt to repair and restore a second church building at Saint Laurentius would seriously jeopardize the fiscal welfare of the parish as well as its future existence,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “The decision was not made lightly and was made to provide for the safety of the community as well as the continued presence of a Catholic parish in Fishtown.”

Restoration of the church at Berk and Memphis streets and its 100-foot spires would cost $3.5 million, while demolition would cost $1 million, the archdiocese said.

A Save St. Laurentius member who was a contractor had put in a bid offering to restore the church for $750,000.

The process of demolition is expected to take several months.

St. Laurentius merged with nearby Holy Name parish in July 2013 and closed in March 2014.

St. Laurentius School remains open and the Archdiocese said the demolition would not endanger the school.

Its relics have been previously removed and placed in storage.

 

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