Status: Active, Roman Catholic
Rising Sun Avenue and Devereaux Street
Philadelphia, PA 19111
Original visit: April 8, 2007
Where Is It?
Rising Sun Avenue and Devereaux Street, in the Lawncrest Section of Northeast Philadelphia
Let’s call this the Project's backup church, since we often used it as a secondary option when we were unable to attend our primary parish, St. Helena. That said, I had never been in the St. William upper church. Any and all masses I ever attended were downstairs. Easter Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity to discover this rarely seen, often heard about treasure.
Unfortunately, St. William isn't much to write home about architecturally. The main problem is that while the parish was founded in 1920, due to a myriad of design and financial issues the church itself wasn't finished until 1963. That's way past the sweet spot of church design in this area, and the result is a building that's pretty plain — the windows are spartan, most of the walls are bare, and there's little in the way of timeless ornamentation. Witness this picture, provided by Ken Houser and the good folks of the parish:
A shame, because structurally the place isn't bad. A little on the smallish side, but the Greco-Roman-style columns out front add an interesting flair. And for the second time, we see lower church doors in the front, which is fairly unique.
How's It Doing?
Oh, man, another Lower Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood in the midst of a lot of changes. Lawncrest's lily-white past is a thing of the, well, past, and it's diversified a lot in recent years. Lawncrest as a whole is still better than a lot of people think, and St. William still boasts eight Sunday masses (including vigil) and an 1,100+ average attendance.
Good for now, but again, like I said with neighboring St. Martin of Tours — as go these neighborhoods, so too will their parishes. And their challenges won't get any easier.
Rising Sun Ave. can be a little tricky to navigate, but otherwise the travel is fine, especially since you really needn't be afraid of parking on side streets. It's still a relatively safe area.
Errr…well, my doctor’s office used to be next door to this church. I don’t go there anymore.
The Final Word
Not really worth your time, architecturally, unless you’re a perfectionist.