The Redundant Church

The Redundant Church

It was slightly challenging to discover the history of this elegant religious architecture located at 22nd and Chestnut Streets. With no signs or billboards, it had the vestiges of yet another abandoned church, yet it seemed to be well preserved. It turned out that Wikipedia had a brief history of this building.

The building in the photograph was erected in 1881 for The Church of the New Jerusalem, a Swedenborgian organization. The church is reported to have closed in the mid-1980's due to its diminished congregation. In 1990, it was converted into modern executive office space while the exterior elegance was preserved. Although it was profiled as a good example of adaptive reuse by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the building has already had a couple of tenants and it currently seems to be vacant.

A Redundant Church is a term used mainly in the United Kingdom to denote a building that is no longer required for regular public worship. Although there a number of reasons for redundancy, the primary reason seems to be diminishing attendance. Most people, religious or not, would agree that many Places of Worship around the world are historically and architecturally significant enough to be preserved rather than demolished.

Philadelphia, as one of the most historic cities in the United States, has a significant number of Redundant Places of Worship. Although The Church of the New Jerusalem has been spared so far, a number of churches have already been demolished, while others await the determination of their fate.
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