Committee considers adding more churches to Philly Register of Historic Places

Mike DeNardo
April 17, 2019 - 4:36 pm
Four more Philadelphia churches have been nominated for historic designation by the City of Philadelphia, but the Archdiocese is concerned that the list may be growing too large.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Four more Philadelphia churches have been nominated for historic designation by the City of Philadelphia, but the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is concerned that the list may be growing too large. 

Local historian Celeste Morello doesn't attend any of them, but she told a city Historical Commission committee that three churches should be added to the city's Register of Historic Places. 

"They are at a point where they should be historically designated and preserved," Morello said. 

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She says St. Leo the Great in Tacony, St. Thomas Aquinas in South Philly and St. Dominic's in Holmesburg have significant architectural features and social importance. 

"They served the community. They were the catalyst or, the focal point. In the 19th century, all a person had, really, was work, home and the church to guide them," she explained. 

The Committee on Historic Designation recommended that the full commission next month add all three to the historic list. The committee recommended that a decision on a fourth church, St. Francis de Sales in Southwest Philly, be delayed until June.

Once a building is on the Register, the commission has to approve any modifications.

No one from the Archdiocese attended the meeting, but spokesman Ken Gavin later issued a statement saying the Archdiocese has not taken a position on the pending nominations.

Gavin said a quarter of the active parishes in the city already have buildings on the Register, and the Archdiocese is concerned about the number of historic nominations and the effect the designation has on parishes' finances.