Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spring Garden's Church of the Assumption

Spring Garden's Church of the Assumption's new owner is seeking to demolish the decaying relic. After changing hands numerous times since it was sold by the Catholic Church, the landmark cathedral has deteriorated due to neglect, nature, and ineptitude.

The saddest point in the site's fate is the inevitability of its demolition and preservationists' reluctance to accept that. Adaptive reuse has a threshold, and retrofitting churches as anything, particularly ones with such unique and unusable architectural elements, is cost prohibitive and often pointless.

Realistically, the Church of the Assumption has been dying a slow death since its previous owners began gutting it in anticipation of its demolition. At this point, any appeal to save the church will at best simply stave off the demolition for a future date.

It's a shame that the Callowhill Neighborhood Association and preservation advocates are so resistant to compromise because a demolition permit does not have to mean the complete demise of a landmark and another surface parking lot. Ironically the same neighborhood full of industrial relics creatively advocating the reuse of the Reading Viaduct has offered little to no outside-the-box solution to save the Church of the Assumption's presence in their neighborhood.

The ruins of Windsor Plantation near Port Gibson, Mississippi stand among park space.

Across Europe, countless churches and castles have been stripped of all but the necessary masonry to serve as parks. Even in the United States, Windsor Plantation near Acorn State University and Port Gibson, Mississippi remains in ruins as a testament to another time. 39 of the original Capitol Building columns stand at the D.C. Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Our situation offers Spring Garden, Callowhill, and Philadelphia the unique opportunity to conserve the easily maintainable elements of a condemned relic as urban ruins.

Nothing remains of Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire but the masonry that once upheld the structure.

The site could be saved - at least in part - as a park frequently used for art exhibits, outdoor theater space, a concert venue, a beer garden, and private events. If you accept the fact that the Church of the Assumption has reached the point at which it cannot be reused as a habitable structure, the creative uses for the site become endless.

No comments:

Post a Comment