Category: Houses of Worship

Montgomery Avenue: More Than Ever, a Magnet for Orthodox Jews



In 1957 there weren’t many Orthodox Jews in Lower Merion. There weren’t many Jews at all. The synagogues Har Zion, now in Penn Valley, and Beth David, now in Gladwyne were going strong, but they were still in Wynnefield. Main Line Reform was holding services in a big old house in Wynnewood. Adath Israel had already moved to its current location on Old Lancaster Road, in Merion, but construction on its big domed sanctuary did not start until the following year.

Also in 1957, Lower Merion Synagogue (LMS) moved to its current location, also on Old Lancaster Road directly across the street from Adath Israel. In 1957 LMS was the only Orthodox synagogue in the township. Its “monopoly” lasted for close to 40 years.

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Bala Cynwyd Church Does Not Rule Out “Purchase Leaseback”


Yesterday Property reported that the beautiful Bala Cynwyd United Methodist Church on Levering Mill Road was for sale. Narberth real estate agency Duffy Real Estate Inc. is listing the property for $1,500,000. Today we talked about the church buildings with Michael Duffy.

He said that the church is for sale because the size of its congregation has declined. In addition to exploring any and all options with respect to its building, the members of the congregation are also looking into various options as to where and with whom they will be worshiping.

An ideal scenario from the congregation’s point of view, according to Duffy, would be to find a buyer who would be willing to lease the sanctuary back to the congregation. Duffy also said that the church “would not rule out” the possibility of keeping the sanctuary and only selling the education building.

As is usually the case, the zoning issues will probably add some complications to the potenital sale.

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Newly Listed: The Gorgeous, Gothic United Methodist Church of Bala Cynwyd


This listing is actually a three-for-one deal. There’s the church itself–such a gorgeous church–and the education building, which has a theater, offices, classrooms, a library, a kitchen, meeting rooms, a common area with the fireplace–all of that is obviously zoned for religious purposes. Two parking lots are zoned for commercial use.

I don’t currently have more information about the sale, but the photos show that it’s a beautiful sanctuary. First Narberth, now this… Well, no need to get maudlin about it.

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Armory’s Developer Not Known for Preservation, But the Building Has to Come Down

The Broad Street armory as seen a couple days ago.

The Broad Street armory as seen a couple days ago.

Michael Carosella, the developer who owns the dilapidated armory on the 1200 block of South Broad, is not exactly known for preservation work. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the latest news about the armory–first built in 1886 for the Third Regiment of the National Guard–is that it’s going to be demolished.

Initially, the armory was sold with a “no demo” stipulation. But that was vacated, and by the time Carosella bought it a few days ago, his plan to demolish the building had been opposed only by neighborhood residents who felt it should be protected due to historical value–and due to the Frank Sinatra mural on its side. But that doesn’t matter now. Due to the Market Street disaster, the city wants the armory, which is in terrible shape, to be torn down quickly to avoid any collapse.

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Abandoned America Tours Keep Selling Out. Photos By Laura Kicey

st. peter's church

Photo: Laura Kicey

Matthew Christopher is a photographer of decrepit, abandoned places who shares his technical expertise with other photographers in weekend workshops. The Abandoned America series took Property’s Laura Kicey to the SS United States and more recently to Germantown’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Built in the 1870s and designed by Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt, the church closed in 2005 and will soon undergo renovation to become a school, so this venture was the last chance to photograph it in its in-between state. How photographers love decrepitude! And how Philadelphians love to look at it as evidence of our own present and past. But enough philosophizing (level 101): Check out Laura’s beautiful (as always) photographs.

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Renderings of Townhomes to Replace St. John the Evangelist at 3rd and Reed

st john the evangelist church

Photo: Christopher Mote via Hidden City Daily

Yet another house of worship goes the way of all Philly churches: this time, it’s St. John the Evangelist at Third and Reed, which cannot withstand the power of the wrecking ball. Hidden City Daily broke the story that a developer purchased it quickly after closure to demolish it and use the land for town homes. When Naked Philly wrote about the demolition, a commenter bemoaned the church’s fate:

I had my first communion, confirmation and first wedding in this church. My family was a active member for years. I remember holiday shows, Bingos, Easter services, the Christmas Bazaar, fundraising shows that I participated in, my grandparents funerals……all of the truly important events in my life happened at this church. I wish I had known it was coming down, I would have asked to maybe take some of the glassware or stained glass windows. My father served on the alter and I was in the children’s chior. I loved this church….I am truly saddened to see it go.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: The Hidden City Festival


Hidden City just announced the second year of its Festival, and my how it’s grown. The interdisciplinary organization–anchored by a fascinating website that delves into the history of the city’s lesser known spaces and keeps readers up to date on what’s new with the built environment–aims to spur curiosity about the city. And the festival, in keeping with its name, takes place in venues that are in abandoned, forgotten, sometimes ruined beauties for a peek into secret histories and the city’s other life.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: St. Katharine Drexel Chapel, New Orleans

st. katharine drexel

Photo: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects via designboom

Though Philadelphians can’t help but think of St. Katharine Drexel as one of our own, the Drexel heiress turned canonized nun has great import for Catholics across the world. A tireless advocate for social justice, St. Katharine traveled across the U.S. to intervene where she saw oppression of minorities, whether against sharecroppers in the South or Native Americans in the Southwest.

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