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Voice your opinion! Last chance for 1849 Philadelphia church building

September 7, 2010

If you missed the previous post about the Church of the Assumption (with historical background of the 1849 edifice), let me remind you that the Financial Hardship Committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission will hear the owner’s case tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1:00 pm at City Hall, Room 578.

Attend and see if Siloam Ministries makes the case for demolition, that they’ve made every effort to find a new owner and that no other solution exists for the building or for their organization.  If you can’t attend, but have an opinion, let the Historical Commission know.

Philadelphia Historical Commission City Hall, Room 576 Philadelphia, PA 19107

Telephone: 215.686.7660 Fax: 215.686.7674

Email:  Jon dot Farnham at phila dot gov

To see what possibilities exist for a former church complex, see the Community Design Collaborative’s design work for St. Boniface in Norris Square.

Below is some visual perspective on Church of the Assumption and its landmark spires, as well as some historical perspective, drawn from 19th century accounts of the building’s opening, its restoration, its rebirth.  Will the church be renewed again or will it become a ghost on the landscape?

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 1849

A Dedication.—The Church of the Assumption will be dedicated tomorrow, at ten o’clock. The Right Rev. Dr. Reynolds, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, will preach the Sermon of the Dedication, and a collection will be taken up in aid of the Church. Tickets of Admission, Fifty Cents, to be had at the Assumption, the Sexton of St. Mary’s Church, the Orphan Store, Chestnut above Twelfth street, and Jas. Fullerton’s Bookstore, No. 57 south Fourth street.

Photo by A. Palewski

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, July 9, 1874, “Church of the Assumption”

The Roman Catholic church of the Assumption of which Father Carter is pastor, situated on Spring Garden street, below Twelfth, has recently been undergoing extensive repairs and improvements, and has been thoroughly renovated.

The steeples have been scoped down and all the defects removed. In the interior of the church the ceiling is in neutral tints and gold,, and the columns have been marbleized in imitation of Tennessee marble, presenting a beautiful appearance.

The walls of the sanctuary have been elegantly frescoed, the work being done by Messrs. C. Bremer & G. Gallaschik in person.

On the left are figures of St. Mark, St. John and St. Charles Borromeo, and on the right St. Patrick, St. Luke and St. Matthew, all six feet in height.  In the centre are the Annunciation, the Immaculate Conception, the Madonna and the Ascension, and behind the tabernacle the remonstrance, the figures being four feet in height.  The work is very artistically executed. And the figures stand out, presenting a remarkably lifelike appearance. The drapery is correct, and hangs naturally, and the characters are well modeled.  The figures are in old Indian costic, and above each of the side altars are two angels.

The principal altar will be gold and white, and the pews will be grained.  All the high points in the mar of the sanctuary have been dipped with eighteen-karat gold and filled in with neutral tints, and the columns of the same have gold leaves on a white ground.  Messrs. Bremer & Gallaschik have executed well the work assigned them, and the church will hardly be recognized by those who saw it before the improvements, the cost of which when completed will be from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars.

There will be a grand opening on the second Sunday in September, the anniversary of the consecration of the church.

Photo by A. Palewski

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 1889, “A Perilous Position.”

Gilding the Cross on a Lofty church Spire.

Crowds gathered yesterday afternoon at the street corners in the vicinity of the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption, on the north side of Spring Garden street below Twelfth, and all eyes were turned to the top of the lofty eastern spire of the church, where a workman was seen in a position calculated to make the spectators’ flesh creep with a feeling of intense anxiety.

For some time past the work of repainting the two spires of the church has been going.  Last Thursday afternoon Moses Coster, a painter, slipped from a scaffolding near the top of the spire and was terribly injured.  But for coming in contact with telegraph wires he would have been instantly killed.  That accident did not deter a painter and gilder yesterday from ascending to the very top of the spire and to go through with the work of gilding the cross and globe that surmounts it. He performed the task with as much equanimity as though he was on terra firma.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 3, 1899, “Assumption’s Fiftieth Year”

Arrangements for Celebrating the Church’s Golden Anniversary

Elaborate preparations are now being made for the celebration of the golden anniversary of the dedication of the Church of the Assumption, at Twelfth and Spring Garden streets.  In honor of the event special services will be held in the church on Sunday, November 12.

…Work upon the foundation of the church was begun in July, 1847, by Rev. Charles I. H. Carter, who was then pastor of St. John’s Church, and it was wholly due to his own individual efforts in raising and collecting funds that on May 21, 1848, the corner-stone of the new structure was laid with impressive ceremonies by Bishop Smith, of Glasgow, Scotland., The address was delivered by Bishop Kenrick, of St. Louis, Mo. The church was completed early in November, 1849, and on the 11th of the month was dedicated by Very Rev. R. X. Gartland, the sermon being preached by Bishop Reynolds, of Charleston, S.C.

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