Center City Churches Open Their Doors For Sacred Spaces Tour

 

Inside the sanctuary of First Baptist Church at 17th and Sansom | Photo: Michael Bixler

Thirteen churches in Center City will open their doors to the public this Sunday for an exclusive look inside their walls of worship. Sponsored by Center City Residents’ Association, the tour is self guided and free to the general public. Along with tour maps, church leaders and docents at each congregation will be on hand to lead stained glass window tours and answer questions about the history and architecture of their respective buildings.

“The architecture we have inside these churches downtown are extraordinary,” says Stephen Huntington, executive director of the Center City Residents’ Association. “Tens of thousands of people walk by churches like First Baptist [Church of Philadelphia] at 17th and Sansom every day and never get to see the inside.” In their second year hosting the tour, Huntington says Sunday will give the public an opportunity to get an exclusive glimpse of the grandeur inside these historic churches.

Pull up a pew and take a load off | Photo: Michael Bixler

Pull up a pew and take a load off | Photo: Michael Bixler

The open house idea was conceived in 2008 as an offshoot of an interfaith breakfast to bring Center City religious congregations together–a meet-and-greet and dialogue starter. Huntington explains, “A board member of ours, a minister, was retiring. He said that churches here aren’t nearly as collegial here as they are in the Midwest and that bothered him. Churches in Philadelphia seldom talk to each other and he wanted to bring them together in some way. We decided to host a breakfast and members from all 18 congregations we invited showed up so it was very successful.” Huntington says that the churches included in the tour see Sunday as an opportunity “to put their best foot forward,” not only in showcasing their beautiful buildings, but also to attract new members.

Churches participating in the open house tour include the Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church (“Big Wesley”) at 1500 Lombard Street, an historic leader in civil rights movement, the Frank Furness-designed First Unitarian Church at 21st and Chestnut Street, and City Hall architect John McArthur’s Tenth Presbyterian Church at 17th and Spruce Street.

The Sacred Spaces Open House tour begins at 1PM this Sunday. For a complete list of participating churches see their website HERE.

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
On The Hunt For Brains, Discovering The Wistar Institute

On The Hunt For Brains, Discovering The Wistar Institute

February 21, 2018  |  Vantage

Mickey Herr dissects the origins of the Wistar Institute and examines the brain of a man that turned the medical world on its head > more

Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

February 19, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow waltzes through the history of an old auto dealership in South Philly that has been a hub of classical dance training for over 30 years > more

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania's Original Turnpike

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania’s Original Turnpike

February 16, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

As Phase One of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park sets to open this spring, Harry K. takes us on a ride along the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, one of the earliest railroads in America > more

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

February 15, 2018  |  Buzz

Michael Bixler takes us on a stroll down the newest segment of the Schuylkill River Trail > more

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

February 14, 2018  |  News

Missing for decades, two signature sculptures come home to Fairmount Water Works. A. Leonard Pundt has the details on how conservation efforts and carefully-crafted reproductions brought the iconic public artwork back to life > more

Discovering My Family's Place In The Workshop Of The World

Discovering My Family’s Place In The Workshop Of The World

February 12, 2018  |  Vantage

In Port Richmond, Amy Cohen has a chance encounter with her family's industrial past when she happens upon a sign for her grandfather's old business, the Philadelphia Rust-Proof Company > more