St. Francis of Assisi

Status: Closed, Former Roman Catholic

Founded: 1899
Construction: 1924
Closed: 2012

Greene & Logan Street
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Original visit: September 16, 2007
Subsequent visits: July 20, 2008

Where Is It?

Greene & Logan Streets, in the Germantown section of Northwest Philadelphia.

The Skinny

The Project returns to familiar haunts: Germantown, the site of so many of our past successes. Here, we find the former St. Francis of Assisi, which sits at the southernmost tip of the neighborhood, overlooking Wayne Junction station and the barrens of Nicetown-Tioga and beyond.

The Francis Triangle: You may remember that St. Francis of Assisi is one of the three members of the Francis Triangle, joined by Cedar Park's St. Francis de Sales and Spring Garden’s St. Francis Xavier. I am still working intently to solve the triangle's meaning; stay tuned for further developments.

Francis of Assisi was not quite in the same league as de Sales, but that’s really not a knock against it. Few churches are in de Sales’ league. Francis of Assisi was still a lovely parish, and ranked solidly in the upper echelon of Philly churches.

It was a pretty sizeable non-columned, cruciform Romanesque beauty, highlighted by a really unique, tri-layered design. The bottom layer was done in a Mahogany-style wood paneling; the middle section was done in a light, almost crème-colored stone; and the top layer, including the roof, was done in a combination of plaster and stone.

The top two layers particularly effected an Egyptian-style feel, both in the blue and gold gilding and in the light-colored stone. It was a strange effect, particularly given the wood paneling at the bottom, but it worked better than you might think.

I should also mention the sanctuary area, which was done almost entirely in wood paneling. Once again, you’d think the rec-room finish would detract, but…it just worked somehow.

What Happened?

The Closer has come here as well, and St. Francis got the axe on July 1, 2012.

A real shame, although with the attendance falling to just over 100 — 100! — what do you really expect? The parish was consolidated, along with Immaculate Conception, into St. Vincent de Paul. Nobody wins in that arrangement, because St. Vincent, for all of their endearing wackiness, doesn't have a particularly great church. Certainly not as nice as this, and not even in the same galaxy as Immaculate.

Chalk it up to a declining neighborhood and all of the assorted problems that causes. St. Francis wasn't in the best of shape — one back corner of the church was roped off during our original visit — but in the hands of a stronger congregation, that wouldn't have been a problem.

I kept hoping they would hold on until Germantown came around again. Sadly, they didn't get that chance.

R.I.P., St. Francis.

Travel Tidbits

As I just said, the surrounding area is a little shady, but that’s what you get with Wayne Junction. Still, you’re all veterans by now, right? It’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle.

Interesting Note

The church’s most visible feature is its green-domed spire, which is visible (albeit briefly) from the vicinity of the Wayne Junction SEPTA station. Sit on the side of the train that faces west, and keep your eyes peeled toward the hills that rise up behind the station. You could also get off at the station and get a static view, but I wouldn’t really recommend that.

Additional Resources

The Closer Comes to Germantown / April 15, 2012

Image Gallery

The Final Word

Saint Francis of Assisi is a fine, fine addition to the Project — too bad it's not sticking around for future generations.