PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is more trouble for a shuttered church in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood as the facade is crumbling again. The church was already dealing with issues to its facade earlier this year, and after Sunday night, is doing so again.
St. Laurentius School in Fishtown was closed Monday because of the falling bricks from the nearby church. The church is located at Memphis and East Berks Streets.
According to church officials, around 6 a.m. Monday, large pieces of the facade came crashing to the ground. One neighbor described the sound as a thunder clap that woke him up.
This church was shut down by the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2014 and has been at the center of a hotly-contested community debate on what to do with it.
Multiple fundraisers to keep it alive have not worked. Father Albert Bradley estimates the archdiocese has spent well over $100,000 on the church in the last year along.
With the church seemingly beyond saving for religious use, a developer has the option to buy the church and turn it into a 23-apartment facility with no parking — an option that has split the neighborhood.
Michael Sodowski has lived in Fishtown for 43 years. After opening in 1882, he says it’s time to let the church go.
“Historically, it’s been such a big part of the neighborhood, but I think it’s time for it to come down,” Sodowski said.
The development project would allow the church to get out from its financial burden of maintaining the structure.
“The majority of people definitely don’t want apartments in there because of the parking situation,” parishioner Ken Schwarz said. “The city is being run by idiots. They’re overdeveloping and we have no parking.”
“They need to be saved. I can’t imagine living in this neighborhood without those spires here,” parishioner Patricia Kinsman said. “They don’t understand the historical importance of things.”
One thing the community mostly does agree on is the facade should be saved.