Demolition of shuttered church begins after long battle

Aug 20, 2022, 9:16 AM | Updated: Aug 21, 2022, 4:48 am
FILE - This Feb. 23, 2016 file photo shows the St. Laurentius Roman Catholic church in Philadelphia...

FILE - This Feb. 23, 2016 file photo shows the St. Laurentius Roman Catholic church in Philadelphia. Demolition of a shuttered 19th-century church in Philadelphia has begun following a yearslong battle by some neighbors to save the crumbling structure. Crews last week surrounded the 140-year-old St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown with scaffolding, fencing and barricades. Neighbors gathered Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 to get their final look at the structure. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Demolition of a shuttered 19th-century church in Philadelphia has begun following a yearslong battle by some neighbors to save the crumbling structure.

Crews last week surrounded the 140-year-old St. Laurentius Church in the Fishtown neighborhood with scaffolding, fencing and barricades. Neighbors gathered Wednesday to get their final look, taking pictures and pointing to the huge cross, once affixed to the building, that lay against a fence, KYW reported.

“I don’t want to see a church, regardless of denomination, to come down,” Margaret Ann Ramsey told KYW. “It’s always been part of the area, so it’s sad, especially for the people who belong to this parish.”

Michael Johnson of HC Site Construction told WTXF-TV that the work to dismantle the 150-foot spires is being done by hand, with material dropped through chutes to the basement to prevent vibrations from truck activity.

The city’s department of licenses and inspections issued a demolition permit almost a year ago, but officials said relocating utility poles and wires ringing the property took longer than expected. Crews also were 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 Philadelphia Historical Commission has ordered the developer to preserve or rebuild the church’s front face 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 collapse absent a $3.5 million restoration. Supporters said their estimates totaled only $700,000. The historical commission added the church to the city’s historic register in 2015.

Concerns arose in 2019, when pieces of the facade crumbled, in one case with 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms) of rock breaking off a spire, puncturing steel scaffolding and falling into a fenced safety zone around the church, prompting closure of the nearby school for 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 decayed substantially, with one predicting “at least partial collapse” within a decade. A structural engineer hired by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia said the building had remained standing despite dire assessments by a number of engineers.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A man works at a manufacturer of Integrated Chip encapsulation in Nantong in eastern China's Jiangs...
Associated Press

China manufacturing weak, adding to economy pressure

BEIJING (AP) — Growth in Chinese factory activity was weak in September, export orders fell and employers cut jobs, two surveys showed Friday, adding to pressure on lackluster economic growth. A monthly purchasing managers’ index released by business news magazine Caixin fell to 48.1 from August’s 49.5 on a 100-point scale on which readings below […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das gestures during a press conference afte...
Associated Press

India raises interest rate to 5.90% to tame inflation

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s central bank on Friday raised its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 5.90% in its fourth hike this year and said developing economies were facing challenges of slowing growth, elevated food and energy prices, debt distress and currency depreciation. Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das projected inflation […]
23 hours ago
Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquart...
Associated Press

Asian stocks sink on German inflation, British tax cuts

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks sank again Friday after German inflation spiked higher, British Prime Minister Liz Truss defended a tax-cut plan that rattled investors and Chinese factory activity weakened. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Oil prices edged lower. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 2.1% on Thursday to its lowest level […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba participates in a forum about the challenges Mississippi's capi...
Associated Press

Water crisis tests Mississippi mayor who started as activist

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The mayor of Mississippi’s capital was 5 years old when his parents moved their family from New York to Jackson in 1988 so that his father, who had been involved in a Black nationalist movement in the 1970s, could return to the unfinished business of challenging inequity and fighting racial injustice. […]
23 hours ago
Residents check on one another in a flooded neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursda...
Associated Press

After Ian, the effects in southwest Florida are everywhere

Hurricane Ian was over southwest Florida for only a few hours. It will take months to clean up all the damage. Maybe longer. And some of the destruction can’t be cleaned up at all. From trees getting ripped out of the ground to signs being ripped apart, traffic lights crashing onto roadways and some buildings […]
23 hours ago
In this image made from video, James Burdette speaks during an interview on Thursday, Sept. 29, 202...
Associated Press

At a Florida trailer park, survivors speak of Ian’s wrath

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — When Ian’s winds swept into this Gulf coast trailer park, they howled with such force that residents felt they would be lifted off the ground, even blown away. Now many homes in this community in North Fort Myers are crumpled and splintered. Hurricane Ian pulled, twisted and bent their […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Demolition of shuttered church begins after long battle