Philly’s Pain, Raleigh’s Gain

January 29, 2014 | by Christopher Mote


Ascension of Our Lord Parish | Photo: Bradley Maule

Ascension of Our Lord Parish | Photo: Bradley Maule

What two shuttered Philadelphia Catholic churches are losing, a new cathedral in Raleigh, NC stands to gain.

Forty-two stained glass windows have been removed from the Ascension of Our Lord Parish in Kensington. The windows, 17 feet in height, are being restored, panel by panel, by Beyer Studio in Germantown. When finished, they’ll find a new home at the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus. The Diocese of Raleigh estimates the project, which includes the 2,000-seat cathedral, a gathering hall, and a three-story parking garage, will cost between $75 and $90 million. So far, about $62 million has been raised.

Beyer Studio has dedicated a page on its website to the restoration of the glass, as well as a few short videos narrated by Joseph Beyer on the history of several windows just prior to their removal.

The diocese has also acquired 14 panels depicting the Stations of the Cross from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Germantown. The three-by-five panels, reports the diocese, are in good condition and require minimal restoration.

Ascension, which opened in 1914, and St. Francis, erected in 1928, were both included in Hidden City’s top ten list of significant, vulnerable churches in 2013. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which still owns the two structures, closed both in 2012.


About the Author

Christopher Mote 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.


  1. matt szalwinski says:

    In the early 1990s, I discerned a call to the priesthood at St. Charles Seminary. Our dean at the time was Father Michael Burbidge. Several years after I left the seminary, I was attending Sunday mass in Elkins Park and was very surprised that the guest celebrant was Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.
    This story sounds so much like the Father Burbidge I remember. A true proud Philadelphian, huge Eagles and Phillies and Sixers fan. I think it’s wonderful that he is saving a piece of home and taking it with him.
    Great story!

  2. James says:

    Better to reuse the stained glass windows than destroy them. At least people in North Carolina will get to enjoy them.

  3. Roman Blazic says:

    I took these pictures of the stain glass windows of Holy Name Church in Fishtown. One never knows when another Catholic church will close and be forgotten.

  4. James Derogatis says:

    The church is now covered graffiti. Whatever windows remain have been broken. I grew up a few blocks from this Church and its architecture is magnificent. Its unfortunate that the so called historic commission and preservation societies in Philadelphia are always MIA when it comes to preserving neighborhood gems.

    1. L. Diernback says:

      I grew up on Westmoreland St., a half block from the Ascension
      church, and graduated from the grade school in 1962. My first
      grade class was the first to be in the “new” school building in
      1954. My parent’s generation considered the area to be
      Harrowgate, while mine (l’m 71) always called it Kensington.
      Being close to the iconic intersection of Kensington and
      Allegheny Avenues (“K&A”) probably had something to do with
      the change in our thinking. I was sad to see the Ascension
      church in its deteriorated condition but l’m glad that the
      magnificent stained glass windows will be saved. I recall being
      awed by them as a kid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.