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
Ghosts Of The Abandoned Arch Street Subway Line

Ghosts Of The Abandoned Arch Street Subway Line

April 18, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us into the abandoned subway tunnels below Arch Street with the history behind Philly's unfinished plans for a grand underground transit system > more

Unlisted Philadelphia: Tourison Building

Unlisted Philadelphia: Tourison Building

April 17, 2018  |  Unlisted Philadelphia

Ben Leech spotlights unique and significant buildings not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places with his architectural illustration series, Unlisted Philadelphia. In this installment, an Art Deco delight fills the heart of Mount Airy > more

Old Iron Works In Logan Square To Face The Wrecking Ball

Old Iron Works In Logan Square To Face The Wrecking Ball

April 13, 2018  |  News

When the housing bubble burst and the recession hit in 2007, plans to convert Creswell Iron Works on Cherry Street into apartments tanked. The quaint collection of industrial buildings is now headed for demolition. Michael Bixler has the details > more

American Revolution Landmark To Be Auctioned Off At Sheriff Sale

American Revolution Landmark To Be Auctioned Off At Sheriff Sale

April 11, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia, News

Old stone home in Frankford with ties to the Declaration of Independence goes up for auction at a sherif sale in May. Harry K. has the news and history behind this threatened national landmark > more

Time Travel At Trader Joe's Reveals Tuxedos & Snazzy Shoes

Time Travel At Trader Joe’s Reveals Tuxedos & Snazzy Shoes

April 9, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow makes a run to Trader Joe's where fine footwear and totally awesome 1980s tuxedos kept things classy at 2121 Market Street > more

Battered Brutalist School Awaits Neighborhood Plan

Battered Brutalist School Awaits Neighborhood Plan

April 6, 2018  |  Last Light

In Eastwick, powerful architecture battles trash and vandalism at vacant George Pepper Middle School. Michael Bixler takes a look with this photo essay. > more