Preservation

Unlisted Philadelphia: New Bethlehem Baptist Church

June 24, 2021 | by Ben Leech

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Spring 2021 issue of Extant, a publication of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

Unlisted Philadelphia highlights interesting and significant Philadelphia buildings not yet listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. To learn more about the local designation process and how you can participate in nominating a building to the Philadelphia Register, visit the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s website for more information.

 

New Bethlehem Baptist Church

Location: 4036-52 Aspen Street

Architect: T. Frank Miller

Built: 1892

Little-known, but prolific architect T. Frank Miller designed this soaring Romanesque Revival church in Mantua for its original congregation, West Hope Presbyterian Church, in 1892. An ornate, imposing bell tower marks the church’s grand ogee-arched main entrance at the corner of Aspen and Preston Streets, but Miller plenty of architectural drama was reserved for the back door, too. Seen here, an otherwise modest doorway is crowned by an unusual spindle-capped turret bracketed by impressive flying buttresses, while an onion-domed, copper-clad cupola hovers over the entire ensemble. Equally impressive is the church’s extensive inventory of stained glass windows by William Reith. Home to the New Bethlehem Baptist Church since 1949, the church is one of West Philadelphia’s most notable religious structures, but it has yet to be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.  

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About the Author

Ben Leech Ben Leech is a preservationist, architectural historian and illustrator based in Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Instagram @bentleech and support his capitalist alter-ego at Archivolt Press

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