A New Year, A New Demolition In Pennsport

 

The former Greenwich Street Church, currently being demolished for two single-family homes | Photo: Christopher Mote

The former Greenwich Street Church, currently being demolished for two single-family homes, seen from Tasker Street | Photo: Christopher Mote

Demolition has begun on Greenwich Street Church, a former worship site and Sunday school for Presbyterians and later a temple for Buddhist monks, in Pennsport.

The modest building at 240 Greenwich Street is being cleared to make way for two single-family homes, a spokesperson for Landmark Architectural Design confirmed. Although the development has yet to be finalized, the church lot is over 11,000 square feet in size, which suggests homes that will have a larger-than-average footprint and/or make abundant use of the property’s open space.

No permits for new construction have been granted for the property. The owner on the deed, Leah Tartaglia, is a member of the Olivieri family of Pat’s King of Steaks fame, and the widow of Joe Tartaglia, whose family operates Connie’s Ric Rac, a performance venue on Ninth Street’s Italian Market.

"Greenwich Street Church, Greenwich and Tasker" | Image from The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 1895

“Greenwich Street Church, Greenwich and Tasker” | Image from The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 1895

The original chapel was erected in 1866 and initially used as a Sunday school by members of the Third Presbyterian Church (still active today as Old Pine Street Church in Society Hill). In December 1867, the chapel was organized for worship by the Fourth Presbytery of Philadelphia and became known as Greenwich Street Church.

The building was enlarged in 1880 and given its extant gothic façade. At one time, the western tower held a steeple that rose to 100 feet. The church property also boasted 200 feet of gardening space between Greenwich and Tasker Streets, as William P. White and William H. Scott observed in an 1895 survey of the city’s Presbyterian churches and institutions.

In 1987, the church was converted into Khmer Palelai Buddhist Temple to serve South Philadelphia’s burgeoning Cambodian population. Khmer Palelai vacated the property with the opening of its new monastery in Southwest Philadelphia, which it began building in 2011 after owning the land for a decade. Coincidentally, Landmark also drew up the designs for the temple that is under construction at the site at 58th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard.

Pennsport Civic Association did not receive nor require notification of the demolition, president James Moylan said in an email. “To my knowledge, the plan for this property requires no variances,” he said. “If that should change, the developer would be required to contact us. If no variances are required they can start work without any communication with the civic association.”

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com



1 Comment


  1. Danielle Olivieri

    also there was a Church bell that belonged to the original church that the Monks stole from us, since it belonged to the church and not to them.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
L&I An Overlooked Asset To Historic Preservation Efforts

L&I An Overlooked Asset To Historic Preservation Efforts

November 16, 2018  |  Vantage

Dana Rice looks at "demolition by neglect" and the potential of the Department of Licenses and Inspections as an unlikely ally in the fight to solve Philly's preservation crisis > more

The Making & Breaking Of The Philadelphia Commercial Museum

The Making & Breaking Of The Philadelphia Commercial Museum

November 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Edward Duffy takes us back when industry, commerce, and foreign trade flooded the halls of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, the first institution of its kind in the United States > more

Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

November 9, 2018  |  News

Affordable housing, displacement and gentrification, demolition for redevelopment--sounds a lot like today's local headlines, but Philly has been dealing with these issues for decades. This and more is addressed in the new exhibition, "Philadelphia: The Changing City," now on view at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ali Roseberry-Polier has the review. > more

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy's Philly Twin

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy’s Philly Twin

November 7, 2018  |  Vantage

Contributor Ann de Forest dials home from Italy where she visits a little chapel that, until recently, had a sibling on Christian Street > more

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

November 2, 2018  |  Vantage

A mysterious set of stairs next to Monoshone Creek leads Sharon Barr on a path to uncover its origins > more

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

October 30, 2018  |  Vantage

A secretive cult dedicated to the worship of a Swiss woman met a horrific end in 19th century South Philly. Ryan Briggs unearths the grim details > more