August 25, 2016
Plans to restore the oldest African-American church in Pennsylvania have taken an important step forward with the release of new renderings that depict the developers' goals for the historic space and neighboring condominiums.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia-based architecture firm S2 published images of the proposal for First African Baptist Church, located at 16th and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia.
The church, now nearly 106 years old, was headed for demolition last year before a local historic designation put a legal battle to rest and reinvigorated discussions about how to preserve the structure for contemporary use.
"From the beginning, the Developer was set on converting a majority of the Church into a daycare due to the overwhelming need for such a facility based on feedback from the neighborhood," the architects wrote in a Facebook post. "S2 and the Developer then spent several months exploring potential uses for the main Sanctuary, ranging from performance space for local academic institutions, a co-working space, and even a training facility for acrobatic troupes! However, due to timing and low interest from these groups, it was ultimately decided that the Sanctuary will house 2 large condominiums."
Many of the church's stained glass windows, as well as the rectory's brownstone facade, will be preserved and restored.
At a recent presentation before the South of South Neighborhood Association, voters approved the projects for the rectory and the church. A vote on the condo proposal will be held next month.