Status: Active, Episcopal
5720 Ridge Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19128
Original visit: April 17, 2010
Where Is It?
5720 Ridge Avenue, in greater Roxborough.
The Project returns to the Rox to visit a church that's most definitely within the neighborhood limits, no ifs, ands or buts — the Episcopalian parish of St. Timothy. Most definitely not to be confused with the Mayfair parish of the same name.
Not that anyone really would. Roxborough's St. Timothy is a squat, sprawling Gothic structure that's in no way similar to its towering, tweener Mayfair cousin.
A squat church, you say? Why bother? It's actually not a bad trip. No one is going to mistake St. Timothy for the best in Philly church architecture, but it has some interesting features. Most prominent is the large, almost bucolic cemetery that extends out from both sides of the building.
As you know, the Project loves cemeteries, and this one's pretty good. Not as large as Cathedral Cemetery at Our Mother of Sorrows or even as ornate as the one at St. James the Less, but nice nonetheless. A big plus.
The building, as noted above, is kind of squat, but the dark stone and red-highlighted black roof are eye-catching. Inside, there's a very lovely tile mosaic sanctuary and apse, a handsome side altar, some smaller but nice stained glass windows and even stations of the cross, which is a real rarity in Protestant architecture.
Beyond that, dark wood, white paint. Meh.
How the $#%@ do I get in here? Not easily, I grant you. There are only two entrances, both side doors, and one is accessible only from the porch of the adjoining parish house. It's not tough to find, but come on! Give the poor Project a break.
Old vs. Older Churches: St. Tim's was built in 1862, making it one of the older churches we've seen, so that explains some of the architectural choices.
Bottom line: a neat cemetery and some other interesting features make for a decent time. Temper your expectations and you just might enjoy yourself.
How's It Doing?
Ah, the "Protestant Puzzle." Mass turnout was almost pathetic, but they have a lot of active ministries and events, and, aside from a couple of damage spots, the building is in good shape. So, uh, overall....eh, ok I guess.
Roxborough is an almost uniformly stable area, and in some cases, particularly in the upper reaches, a very pretty one. St. Timothy is right smack in the middle, towards the higher-density end, but everything looks pretty good. Nothing you need worry about.
What you should worry about is parking, since St. Timothy has no lot. You can probably find street parking in front of the property or along the sides or the back, provided you can navigate a bedeviling maze of one-way streets. Again, no safety concerns — just kind of irksome.
The rector bears an uncanny resemblance to loudmouth magician Penn Jilllette, ponytail and all. Don't believe me? See for yourself:
The Final Word
St. Tim's was founded as a "small country parish," and it certainly lives up to its name. Minus the country part, of course.