Morning Headlines: Ruffin Nichols Church Is Really Gone

Ruffin Nichols painting

Fragment of what was lost when the Ruffin Nichols church was demolished. Photo: Liz Spikol reports that OSHA fined Upper Darby for “serious violations — like a lack of training regarding hydrochloric acid — that “posed a substantial possibility of serious harm or death.”
• Ruffin Nichols Church is completely demolished, says Naked Philly. “Now, the spot where the church stood for many decades is a flat dirt lot. Eventually, we understand fourteen condos and four townhomes will rise here.”
• Berlin-based artist Katharinia Grosse will paint a five-mile stretch of dilapidated buildings along the train track tracks, in a “torrent of color,” says Neast Philly.

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Recommended: “The Lion and the Leopard” by Nathaniel Popkin

krimmel painting

“Independence Day Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia” by John Lewis Krimmel, a central figure in Popkin’s book.

Nathaniel Popkin’s Philadelphia-set historical novel, The Lion and the Leopard, is a curious book. While it’s not an epistolary novel, it reads a bit like one, with separate sections narrated by different characters, each section headed by date and place. Some of the characters recur, like the famed American artist Charles Willson Peale. Others — most notably, Peale’s pet monkey — do not. Also included: a prostitute who seduces an accomplished painter; a woman who sells fruit at a street stall; Peale’s sons; and an artist who dies just as his career is taking off. There is also a writer, Caleb Cloud — the closest we get to a protagonist — through whose narration much of the book’s action is related.

That action takes place in the Philadelphia of the early 1800s, when the art establishment thrived at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and the city was flush with portraitists. Charles Willson Peale was the éminence grise of that scene, and his rather prickly persona–including a hefty dose of judgement directed at his sons–provides the novel with some of its fire. Peale’s sons, Raphaelle and Rembrandt, both struggle to define themselves outside of their father’s long shadow, but Raphaelle drinks and Rembrandt is tortured by his artistic mediocrity. Elsewhere, the devout Quaker Edward Hicks struggles to suppress his artistic urges but is unable to do so.

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Eighth Street Wall Collapse: God to Be Arrested Any Minute?

A dividing wall at 606 S. Eighth collapsed this morning, leaving eight people displaced though none injured or dead, which marks a significant improvement over last week. The heavy rain–not laced with marijuana, to our knowledge–seems to be to blame.

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin, who lives nearby, wrote that neighbors were nervous something like this might happen:

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

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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This Weekend’s Must-Do: Hidden City Philadelphia Block Party Under the Reading Viaduct

The Hidden City Philadelphia Festival kicks into full swing this weekend with an Eraserhood/Loft District/Callowhill/Provence-zone block party with DJs, craft brews and food trucks (the obligatory triple threat for any Philly outdoor gathering). The party celebrates the official launch of the city’s most unique celebration–one we like to call the Fringe for the Forgotten.

The Fest brings contemporary art installations and performance into forgotten architectural spaces that the general public is generally too general to get into. It’s six weeks of programs to gratify music lovers, urban explorers, ruin festishists, art enthusiasts, history buffs and, most especially, The Philadelphia Obsessive, that strange breed of person who gets flushed talking about the fate of the Sameric (sorry, the Boyd) and who worries a lot about the Reading Viaduct.

So what could be better than a block party under the Viaduct to get things going? Nothing! For tickets, go here. For more info, there’s more. And Read more »

City Stunned: Man Moves to Philly From Portland Simply Because He Likes It Better

Bradley Maule, the new co-editor of Hidden City Daily–the hands-down best blog about Philadelphia’s built environment–lived in Portland, Oregon, for three and half years and liked it quite a bit. But the former editor and founder of Philly Skyline–another terrific blog about Philly’s built environment–felt something was missing, so he’s returned to Philly. To introduce himself to Hidden City’s audience, Maule wrote a piece titled “I Like To Be Here When I Can,” in which he explained his decision to return.

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