Status: Closed, Former Roman Catholic
Buckius & E. Thompson Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19137
Original visit: August 18, 2007
Subsequent visits: June 23, 2013
Where Is It?
Bridesburg, baby! Buckius & E. Thompson Streets, to be specific.
Welcome to Bridesburg! Church Alley's prominence to I-95 is well documented, but Bridesburg is no slouch, either. Their two churches are easily visible from the highway as well.
(Admittedly, the large chemical plant sometimes obstructs the view, but hey, it's something.)
The first of those, All Saints, is one of the older parishes we've seen, dating back to 1860. The church didn't come along until 1895, however, so we ended up with a pretty decent building. Well, at least we *had* a pretty decent building. In its current incarnation, All Saints isn't that great.
Now, now, calm down. The place still has some things going for it, including the distinctive (if somewhat nightmare-inducing) brownstone and black-roofed exterior. Inside, you get a nice columned, Gothic construction with pretty nave windows and sizeable organ.
Problem is, All Saints, like a lot of places, has the fingerprints of the past all over it. Renovations, galore! Most notably, the main and side altars have been drastically cut down and / or removed in spots, the marble altar rail replaced with a cheap, flimsy steel version, and much of the paintwork replaced with...well, less interesting paintwork. It's not bad, but it's also nowhere near the standard of what it used to look like.
Here's how All Saints originally looked:
That's really the problem here. I get stuff that happens with the passage of time, especially when delicate plaster is involved. But a lot of what happened here (the altars, etc.) were changes that didn't need to be made, and knowing that just kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
It doesn't matter much now that the parish is closed, but man, architectural loss is architectural loss — even if it happens decades before a church closes.
Note to churches: please, please leave your ornamental legacies alone.
Well, we're well past the point where neighborhoods need multiple churches, especially neighborhoods as small as Bridesburg. All Saints was not substantially healthier than its neighbor, St. John Cantius, but St. John is the site of the regional school, so that's probably why they got the nod in the consolidation.
Like nearby Church Alley, All Saints is easily accessible via I-95. Also like Church Alley, you’ll need to put up with one-way streets and street parking, but it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle.
Bridesburg, like Port Richmond, looks to be a fairly stable working-class environment. I doubt you’d encounter any major problems.
That squat spire actually has a more glorious past:
Like a lot of spires, however, time and the elements conspired against it, and it was removed after a 1950s hurricane.
Images taken June 2013. Click to enlarge!
The Final Word
Sorry, All Saints. This town wasn't big enough for the both of you.