Salvage Begins On Pennsport Church, Condos Coming


St. John the Evangelist Episcopal being scrapped | Photo: Christopher Mote

St. John the Evangelist Episcopal being scrapped | Photo: Christopher Mote

A salvage crew was removing the pews of the St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Pennsport today in advance of demolition. The building, which along with the Sacred Heart Church and school and other massive ecclesiastic buildings to the north (which have been converted to residential use), marks the distinctive cityscape of Moyamensing Avenue. The Sacred Heart School is for sale though the parish is active.

St. John closed about a month ago. The property was purchased by a developer who plans to demolish the the church for twelve condominiums, according to Hidden City sources.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. His essays and book reviews appear in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, The Millions, and Fanzine.


  1. Does anyone know the age of the church? Although, I guess that doesn’t really seem to matter anymore in this city…

    • If I were considering buying a condo in this rather depleted area — I’d be far more likely to pay top dollar for a place that incorporated the entire façade and as much of the interior as possible into it’s condo building. This is a beautiful, but not overly ornate, building. It stands out and has a history. A creative architect, and a developer with good marketing instincts, would recognize that the positives of saving and enhancing this structure far, far outweighs the challenges.

      You can’t put a price on the good will it would generate within the community (and some of those people may be buying units there, or referring friends and relatives); it would be more aesthetically appealing than any bland contemporary architecture they are considering; potentially tremendous press coverage of their “saving” the church through conversion (irony intended) — a press release could go out on every stage of the effort, and follow its success as well.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more ! These condos will be BORING…. No one will remember them .
        How LAZY does a developer have to be to not see the value in this building ? If his architect
        can’t carve out condos from this wonderful structure then he or she should get their money back
        for the education in archetecture they DIDN’T RECEIVE ! If I had the money I’d love to live in
        such a NON BORING didn’t come off the assembly line condo. Perhaps just as the movies have
        the razzies for horrible acting , someone could bring light to some of the most TALENTLESS
        and unimagentive developers and architects in the Philly area . Maybe they could call it the
        ROBERT MOSSES AWARD ! Just a thought !

      • I agree 100%. In fact there’s an old, lovely church in Toronto now that looks similar to St. John, that has kept its facade and much of the interior, converted it into condos and it’s well worth the price. To live in architecture like that (above)? Wonderful. In Toronto they didn’t demolish their church to build some ugly, cookie-cutter structure.
        So sad.

    • It’s a mid 19th century church – the spires were removed many many years ago. Inside it is undistinguished, but certainly the shell could have been rehabbed well into something interesting – better than what will replace it.

  2. The congregation of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church was established in 1854; the present building is from 1867. The adjoining parish house is 100 years old. I was a life-long (64 years) member
    of the parish. It is heart-breaking to me that the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and now the developers could not do more to preserve this beloved building.

  3. Rebecca Potterfield

    It is a shameful reflection upon our society that historic church homes are not given more consideration. The people who are responsible for this will line their pockets with money earned in a dispicable manner, no consideration given to the lives of parishioners that these churches served. only considering the bottom line. Sometimes I wonder how people like this sleep at night.

  4. This whole city is shameful in how is allows these money grubbing developers to destroy history so they can get a few extra coins in their pocket.


  1. Another Church Set to Come Down, This Time in Pennsport | NakedPhilly
Recent Posts
And Liberty For All

And Liberty For All

November 27, 2015  |  Last Light

Sure, City Hall has its wee observation deck with its 15-minute window for viewing. And the skyline view from the 33rd floor of the Loews is the worst-kept secret in town. But with its opening at One Liberty Place on Saturday, Philadelphia gets its first grown-up observation deck > more

Chestnut Hill To Include Modernist Buildings In Historical District

Chestnut Hill To Include Modernist Buildings In Historical District

November 25, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A more inclusive history in Chestnut Hill, more time bought for Pennsport oceanliner, Temple architect shares landscape thinking, and a mixed-use for NoLibs > more

Hugo Bilgram And His Machine Works

Hugo Bilgram And His Machine Works

November 25, 2015  |  The Shadow Knows

Bilgram Machine Works at 12th and Spring Garden was the first reinforced concrete building in Philadelphia. The Shadow puts a spotlight on the formal industrial heavy weight and the busy Bavarian behind it > more

Bidding Farewell To The (Full-Length) Route 23

Bidding Farewell To The (Full-Length) Route 23

November 24, 2015  |  Last Light

As a native of Northwest Philadelphia, Steve Weinik grew up on SEPTA's X and XH bus lines. But it was the 23 that captured his imagination. With the 23 set to become two separate lines this weekend, he took one last ride roundtrip to produce this photo essay > more

Sunset In South Philly For The 23, Dawn For The 45

Sunset In South Philly For The 23, Dawn For The 45

November 24, 2015  |  News

SERVICE ALERT: This weekend marks the end of an era for a SEPTA legend. The Route 23, by far the longest and most ridden of SEPTA's city bus lines, will split in two, retaining the 23 on the northern portion and becoming the Route 45 in Center City and South Philadelphia. Brad Maule breaks down the line that's a geographic and cultural cross-section of the city > more

Ground Broken For Next Mile Of Schuylkill River Trail

Ground Broken For Next Mile Of Schuylkill River Trail

November 24, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A ceremonial groundbreaking in Southwest Philly, traffic concerns for Italian Market project, and the impact of a transformed 40th Street Trolley Portal > more