By MICHAEL GREENLE
TOMORROW, the city Board of License and Inspection Review will continue to consider an appeal from the Callowhill Neighbors Assn. to reverse the decision allowing demolition of the Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden Street.
Last fall, the Historical Commission voted to grant Siloam, the nonprofit that owns the church, permission to demolish it despite its historical significance. Built in 1848, the church is the oldest building remaining on Spring Garden Street, and is significant to local history by its association with the city’s two Catholic saints: St. John Neumann consecrated it, and St. Katharine Drexel was baptized there. The board is a relatively obscure body, less well-known than the Zoning Board of Adjustment or the Planning Commission.
Luckily, its lack of prominence hasn’t prevented it from demonstrating an independent streak in previous cases, including rejecting the Historical Commission decision to allow partial demolition of the Dilworth House and the ZBA variance for a UNISYS sign on the Two Liberty Place tower. Especially encouraging is the board’s openness to hear neighbors’ arguments in challenging city decision-making, and rejecting the notion that previous decisions are a done deal.