Immaculate Conception BVM
Status: Active, Roman Catholic
602 West Avenue
Jenkintown, PA 19046
Original visit: February 25, 2007
Subsequent Visits: November 30, 2008
Where Is It?
West Avenue, just off of Old York Road in Jenkintown.
Yes, usually the suburbs are the epitome of abominable ecclesiastical architecture. But not if you know where to look! If you troll the right areas, particularly the older streetcar-era suburbs, you just might find some proverbial diamonds in the rough.
Enter Jenkintown's Immaculate Conception BVM. Not to be confused with Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Conception, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and the Ukranian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Oh yes, the Immaculate Inception at work.
No one is going to confuse this particular version with, say, the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. But Jenkintown is old enough that this church was built back when they actually knew what they were doing.
The result is a fairly interesting Romanesque-style church. To that end, we get semi-circular arches and windows, a barrel-vaulted ceiling, sculptures on the exterior face, and, yes, lots of stone. But we also get some plaster work, too, and the balance between the two is a little odd and not entirely organic. It's not helpful that the plaster is mostly unadorned.
Still, this church has enough of the things the Project admires. It's a little smaller and plainer than others, but it's nonetheless worthwhile — especially by suburban standards.
How's it Doing?
Pretty well. The parish lost its school, but the average attendance and registered population have held fairly steady for the past several years, and the former is just under 1,000, which is about all that most churches can ask for these days.
Jenkintown has amazing regional rail access, and...not much else. It's not near any major roads or arteries (convenient ones, anyway), so unless you're in the vicinity of lower Montgomery County or don't mind walking from the train — good luck.
Once you do get here, though, you've got nothing to worry about. You’re in the middle of the suburbs, so you've got a greater risk of getting hit by lightning. Or dying from an infected paper cut.
Slightly Annoying Note
As we left church, we were bombarded by representatives from the Catholic Standard & Times. You know, you try to tell people you already have four subscriptions, but they just don’t want to listen.
The Final Word
Not the best you'll see, but a good option if you're stuck in suburban purgatory.