Our Mother of Consolation

Status: Active, Roman Catholic

Founded: 1855
Construction: 1855

9 E. Chestnut Hill Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118

Visit its website

Original visit: April 15, 2007

Where Is It?

Chestnut Hill Avenue, right off of Germantown Pike, in (you guessed it) Chestnut Hill.

The Skinny

This week the tour brings us to Chestnut Hill, home to one of the older Philly churches: Our Mother of Consolation, which dates back to 1855. In a way it’s fitting: an old historic church, and an old, really historic area. Normally that combination would result in some sort of ridiculous neutron bomb of churchiness, but that’s sadly not the case here.

Old vs. Older ChurchesOur Mother of Consolation's 1855 establishment date puts it more in the unremarkable “older” camp. It’s stone, which is nice, but it’s not very big. Inside, it’s incredibly plain, with little ornamentation, and even wooden ceiling beams. As it stands, the large, centrally placed spire is its most prominent and interesting feature.

That said, there's more here at work than just the construction date. As the history goes, the builders of the church concealed the nature of the project due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the area. The size and plainness, then, is at least partially due to the subterfuge necessary to get the place built.

You have to admire their guts, if not necessarily their results.

How's It Doing?

Well, it's in Chestnut Hill, so that means it won't want for attention and money. Well, at least money. The average attendance has dipped into the 800s, but they still have a school, and what real estate values tell me is a fairly well-off population. This isn't a parish that's going to give me a lot of sleepless nights.

Travel Tidbits

Chestnut Hill is one of Philly's best areas, so safety is a non-issue. It's not really located centrally or conveniently, so travel can be a bit of a bear — but unless you have a crippling aversion to cobblestones, you should be fine.

Interesting Note

I’m running out of things to say, but…err, Chestnut Hill has some amazing homes. As far as housing stock goes, no other city section can touch it. Be sure to check them out if you’re in the area.

Additional Resources

Mailbag 11 / November 22, 2009

The Final Word