Philly panel says Church of the Assumption can come down

The new owner of the Church of the Assumption building in Philadelphia has permission to tear it down, at least from the city’s Historical Commission. 


The commission agrees that a hardship permit issued to structure’s former owner, AIDS service group Siloam, travels with the property to latest owner, John Wei.

The decommissioned church and its two towers rise high over the Callowhill neighborhood. It dates back to 1848 and has ties to two Philadelphia saints, St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Siloam representatives previously argued that the building was structurally unsound and just too expensive to repurpose. The opinion brought an objection from Sam Stretton, an attorney for the Callowhill Neighborhood Association, which wants the building preserved.

“Mr. Wei bought the building knowing full well that it was pending appeal. He bought it knowing that there [were] issues with the property,” Stretton said. “So he himself has no hardship.” The matter now goes back to another city board, Licenses & Inspections, for a final decision. Even though Stretton is still litigating in the courts, demolition could still go ahead with the review board’s OK. Wei, who has looked for a new buyer, could not be reached for comment. 

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal