Last Days of 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church

Demolition notice: 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church
Demolition notice: 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church

Across South 40th Street from The Fresh Grocer, tucked behind McDonald’s and The Radian, is Samuel Sloan’s little 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church. But not for long.

On a walk through the neighborhood last week I noticed that the 140 year-old brownstone church’s front door had been posted with an orange notice of demolition sticker, stating that the building could start coming down on or after October 9. New demolition permits were pulled in September by J.F. Huebner and Son.

After spending some time on the market, the sales pitch for this church shifted and a demolition permit was obtained in 2011. As Hidden City Daily reported in September 2011, the church’s fate seemed sealed: The church will be demolished in favor of a new two-story development with 7,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. Signs outside still read “new development coming soon!” and promise a restaurant/retail use.

The 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church is a handsome, understated building that appears (from the outside) to be in good shape, and given its scale this demolition feels like another squandered reuse opportunity.

These are dark days for Samuel Sloan’s buildings, as Hidden City Daily has documented. Three of Sloan’s buildings are currently threatened with demolition. And, of course, the 40th Street Methodist Episcopal Church is one among hundreds of religious buildings in the city that is at once ripe for redevelopment and on the brink of extinction. The church, like so many, is not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

For now, stop by 40th and Sansom to say farewell before this subtle beauty is wastefully reduced to a heap of rubble.

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