Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fishtown's St Laurentius Chuch (Parafia św. Wawrzyńca)

May Soon Be Demolished

St Laurentius is an icon of Fishtown and a historic structure and testament of the Polish immigrants in Philadelphia. Its origins date back to a time when pious, but poor, immigrants sought a house of worship. With fewer than fifty devoted family followers and only US$31.50 in the treasury, the Polish people petitioned Archbishop of Philadelphia James F. Wood for a church. In 1882 a house of worship was established. St. Laurentius Church was named (in Latin) after St. Lawrence, a deacon who was martyred under the reign of Roman Emperor Valerian. *
Church services began in a modest basement facility at Berks and Memphis Streets. Children began attending school there in 1890, under the instruction of the Felician Sisters, a Polish order of nuns. *
The first Polish-speaking priest at St. Laurentius Church, Father Adalbert Malusecki, led efforts to build the church’s upper chapel. Architect Edwin Forrest Durang constructed a Gothic-style décor for the sanctuary, which is 114 feet long, 60 feet wide, with three naves. Master craftsmen from Mannheim, Germany were called upon to build an ornate wooden altar, pulpit, statues and elaborate cut-glass windows. Later, in 1912, under the stewardship of Father Gabriel Kraus, the sanctuary was embellished with oil paintings portraying the life of Christ and his Saints. *  Read more,_Philadelphia

Last week, the archdiocese closed the church until further notice, citing its physical condition. Its walls have cracks and loose or missing stones and bricks. Last October, Licenses & Inspections deemed the structure "unsafe, in whole or in part" and in danger of collapse. Scaffolding and netting now surround the church as a precaution, but the cruel winter heaped more abuse on the 132-year-old building.
On March 19, L&I reiterated its October findings, giving the church 30 days to eliminate the dangerous conditions. The archdiocese must decide by April 18 whether to restore the building or take it down. The archdiocese has said that it would be expensive to fix. A contractor has provided repair estimates ranging from $1.2 million to $3.4 million, and a demolition estimate of $1 million.
However, says parishioner Tim Breslin, "We got our own estimates," from an engineer and contractor who preserve historic churches - "and we were told that repairs can be done for $691,000."          Read more at
Fishtown's strength has gained much community spirit to lose a significant neighborhood asset of architectural beauty, faith and togetherness. The school is also an integral part of the community that is welcoming new residents who seek quality education. It is the last Catholic school in the neighborhood and openly welcomes non-Catholic's and non-Christians. (St. Laurentius stands tall as the highest-rated school in the area by the independent
 A group of parishioners is getting together to try to save beautiful, historic St. Laurentius Church.  They sincerely ask that all Fishtowners (and the world community) - not just the parishioners and Catholics- lend their voices and support to join them. ( & on Facebook
Contributions to: Friends of St Laurentius_3rd Federal Bank_2330 E. York Street_Philadelphia, PA 19125 and
Don't let this happen

first and last photo by roman blazic_all rights reserved
the other two photos had no credit
ending paragraph was para-phrased from a.j. thomson community advocate

1 comment:

  1. $600K to fix or $1 million to demolish, hmmm. Always idiot.