Hidden City Daily has been following the slow demise of Fairhill's St. Bonaventure Church this year, and reported Wednesday that the Department of Licenses & Inspections would be starting demolition of Fairhill’s St. Bonaventure Church soon. Soon came quicker that some may have expected: Demolition got underway on Wednesday.
Workers from Geppert Bros. started taking down a portion of the building facing Hutchinson Street, as seen here:
The St. Bonaventure complex, built at the turn of the 20th century, includes the church and convent facing the 2800 block of North 9th Street and the rectory and school which face Hutchinson Street, between West Somerset and West Cambria streets.
It's beautiful spire topping a clocktower steeple reaches high above North Ninth Street and is visible from afar. Up close it is hard to miss that pieces of the steeple are gone and there are holes in the roof. After numerous violations and court proceedings, L&I deemed the building imminently dangerous in August and determined that the massive century-old building must go. Why? Because the owner, New Life Evangelistic Church, “has not provided any evidence that it is capable of correcting the imminently dangerous conditions,” L&I spokeswoman Rebecca Swanson told Hidden City. Additionally, taking down the entire building and its adjacent school are the cheapest and safest options for the city-funded demoltion. (A lien will be placed on the property to cover the cost.)
St. Bonaventure closed in 1993, which the Philly Church Project reminds us was a rough year for Catholic church closings across North Philadelphia. Since that time the once-proud and richly decorated building has steadily deteriorated.
For a farewell peek inside, check out this set from Jeremy Marshall.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.