Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament: Community members unite to prevent the demolition of a historic church in West Philadelphia
Those who have gathered outside the church, formerly known as Our Lady of Rosary on 63rd and Callowhill Streets, say the church is a historic monument and would like to have a say in its future.
“This church was a pillar for this community, and I think as it grew, as it went down, this same consideration should be given to the people here,” said said Ruth Johnson of West Philadelphia.
Johnson was one of the residents who unexpectedly noticed the demolition sign posted on the front door of the church.
She says it was once a place remembered for graduation ceremonies, baptisms and weddings.
The building was purchased by Boys’ Latin Charter School as they anticipate further growth developments in their network.
Christopher Daniels, a teacher from West Philadelphia, says the demolition notice was not noted in the original contract two years ago.
He thinks demolition shouldn’t be the solution.
“The church has been here since 1887, so whether or not it has that historic designation, it remains a landmark for a lot of people,” Daniels said.
The CEO of the Boys’ Latin Charter School issued a statement which reads: “We have considered this decision for a long time and have considered many options. The one we chose (demolition) was the cheapest and the one that best meets the needs of our school. “
Daniels says that while many organizations have approached homeowners with different ideas to help with the renovation, he ultimately believes there should always be a balance between new development and preserving the history of the community.
“I think when it comes to historic properties in Philadelphia, you’re losing a story that you can’t necessarily get back,” Daniels added. “Tearing it down seems so unnecessary.”
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