PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The demolition of a closed 19th-century church in Philadelphia began after a years-long battle by some neighbors to save the crumbling structure.
Last week, crews surrounded the 140-year-old St. Laurentius Church in the Fishtown neighborhood with scaffolding, fencing and barricades. Neighbors gathered Wednesday for a final look, taking photos and pointing out the huge cross, once placed on the building, that lay against a fence, KYW reported.
“I don’t want a church, regardless of denomination, to come crashing down,” Margaret Ann Ramsey told KYW. “It’s always been part of the area, so it’s sad, especially for people who belong to this parish.”
Michael Johnson of HC Site Construction told WTXF-TV that the work to dismantle the 150-foot towers is being done by hand, with the material being dropped through chutes into the basement to avoid vibrations from the drilling activity. The trucks.
The city’s licensing and inspection department issued a demolition permit nearly a year ago, but officials said relocating power poles and cables surrounding the property took longer than expected. Teams were also told to wait until summer because of classes at a Catholic school next door, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
St. Laurentius is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, and the developer has been directed by the Philadelphia Historical Commission to preserve or rebuild the frontage of the church in any new development. A zoning permit for a proposed eight-story, 49-unit multifamily residential building is being appealed, the newspaper reported.
The church was built in 1882 with the donations of Polish immigrants. In 2014, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced its closure, citing “vertical cracks” and a “heavily deteriorated” facade that threatened to collapse without a $3.5 million restoration. Supporters said their estimates totaled just $700,000. The historical commission added the church to the city’s historical register in 2015.
Concerns arose in 2019, when parts of the façade collapsed, in one case with 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms) of rock dislodging from a spire, puncturing steel scaffolding and falling into a fenced-in security zone around the church, which caused the closure of the nearby school for boys. two days.
The archdiocese spent $135,000 to stabilize the building, and city inspectors said it appeared to be in better shape, but later two engineers hired by the new owner concluded that St. Laurentius had substantially deteriorated, with one predicting “at least a collapse.” partial” within a decade. A structural engineer hired by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia said the building stood up despite dire evaluations from various engineers.
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