PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tucked in the shadows of booming new construction projects sits Philadelphia’s hidden history — old forgotten factories, buildings, even churches from another time and era.
With owners’ permission, CBS 3 toured some of our city’s forgotten past.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
We toured Ascension of our Lord Catholic Church. Built in 1914, so much history down this aisle. Weddings, funerals, Sunday Mass. But this was decommissioned 10 years ago and its sat empty ever since.
Once a bustling parish, Ascension Church on E. Westmoreland Street in Harrogate sits empty, artwork removed, windows smashed.
Brian Elmer, who works for the current owner of the property, says there are some promising plans for the once holy site.
“It could be a women’s shelter. It could be a men’s shelter for vets. There are quite a few different options,” Elmer said.
Just a few blocks from the church, sits the old Blasius Chocolate Factory in Kensington. The business had been open for decades, but closed suddenly in 2014.
Councilman Mark Squila has the goal of preserving historic buildings in the city and finding purpose for them.READ MORE: 13-Year-Old Leienna Cuevas Found, Reunited With Her Family, Philadelphia Police Say
“The city of Philadelphia is something that people come to for history so why destroy. Why can’t we reuse it?” Squila said.
He represents the First District, stretching from the Delaware Riverfront up to Port Richmond, full of places like the Willow Steam Plant which closed 27 years ago and is now full of asbestos. There are no plans for revitalization.
“We want to be able to save these things. What can we do to make that happen? You can see there is a tree growing out of it,” Squila said.
Joel Palmer is one of the people involved in revitalizing the city’s old and blighted properties. He runs a two-person conservancy.
“A conservator doesn’t take ownership. We take title to the property,” he said.
His company then petitions city courts to give control of the properties to allow repairs, or if need be, demolition.
“If a building is fallen into such disrepair that it’s not economical to fix, we’ll take it down,” Palmer explained.MORE NEWS: Wife Accused Of Dismembering Husband's Body, Collecting Social Security Benefits For Years After He Died In Their Pennsylvania Home
But, the goal is not destruction. It’s rebirth, breathing new life into old places like a Kensington factory which sat empty for years. It is now refreshed and on the market as new homes.