Former St. Bonaventure Catholic Church Now Dangerous Eyesore - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Former St. Bonaventure Catholic Church Now Dangerous Eyesore

Posted: Updated:
Neighbors of the former St. Bonaventure Catholic church near 9th and Cambria say the building is becoming a dangerous eyesore. Neighbors of the former St. Bonaventure Catholic church near 9th and Cambria say the building is becoming a dangerous eyesore.
A shingle from the roof of the church is seen on the sidewalk. People who live in the area say the wind blows the shingles off of the roof. A shingle from the roof of the church is seen on the sidewalk. People who live in the area say the wind blows the shingles off of the roof.
NORTH PHILADELPHIA -

For a century, it was a religious centerpiece of Philadelphia's Fairhill neighborhood.

But now, the former St. Bonaventure Catholic church near 9th and Cambria is literally endangering lives.

Gaze skyward at the crumbling steeple of St. Bonaventure and you'll notice a family of Peregrine falcons.

But don't linger on the sidewalk below.

That's Ground Zero for the razor-sharp slate roofing shingles that fall from the spire when the winds blow.

Elizabeth Gutierrez lives just around the corner from the church, and remembers the late October night when Superstorm Sandy rumbled through the neighborhood.

"And my daughter sleeps in the back and the only thing she heard was, 'pop! pop! pop!' She said, 'mom, something's wrong!' (It was) slates coming down."

She says she called Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections to complain about the danger.

The city posted a sign, calling the structure "imminently dangerous," and ordering the owner- the New Life Evangelistic Church- to remove the steeple immediately.

That was November 3rd.

"So it says something there," says Gutierrez, as she peers at the sign with FOX 29s Bruce Gordon, "(but) there's nothing done."

St. Bonaventure was built in 1894, and served the community until dwindling attendance forced the Philadelphia Archdiocese to close its doors in 1993.

The city says New Life Evangelistic bought the place shortly thereafter, but the building has been vacant for years.

The women's halfway house right next door to St. Bonaventure has a bird's eye view of the damage done by scavengers.

The church has been stripped of copper, stained glass- anything of value.

And the lawn here is littered with fallen slate.

Rev. Mildred Kee surveys the mess and tells Gordon the church has been an eyesore for years

About two years ago, she says "the crack heads went in and ripped out all the water pipes, so the water came over in my building and I had a foot of water in my basement."

Gordon called Licenses and Inspections to report the neighbors' concerns.

A spokeswoman acknowledged the posted sign is misleading- that the city considers the church building "unsafe," but not yet "imminently dangerous."

Gordon's phone call to New Life was not returned by Thursday afternoon, but L & I got back to him and said his report had prompted them to re-inspected the structure.

L & I agreed, the building has deteriorated, and the city will now take the owner- New Life- to Equity court, where it can force repairs or demolition.

That's the good news.

The bad?

The legal process could take months to play out.

In the meantime, folks in the neighborhood around St. Bonaventure would be well advised to steer clear of the crumbling steeple.

"If that does come down," says Gutierrez, "somebody's going to die."

  • Send Email To FOX 29 News

    Have problems? Tell us.

    FOX 29 News is #GettingResults.

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 29 News!

  • Getting ResultsMore>>

  • Ya Gotta Try This Tasting

    Ya Gotta Try This Tasting

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-08-26 15:27:40 GMT
    Join FOX 29's Mike Jerrick and the Good Day Philadelphia team for a tasty night of yummy treats benefiting local youth.You've all seen Mike's weekly "Ya Gotta Try This" segments on Good Day Philadelphia, where he visits local restaurants and eating establishments to try their signature, and sometimes, unusual, dishes. Now you have the chance to do the same at the "Ya Gotta Try This" Tasting, Thursday, October 2nd, 6:30 to 9:30, at the Independence Visitor Center, One North Independence Mall W...
    Join FOX 29's Mike Jerrick and the Good Day Philadelphia team for a tasty night of yummy treats benefiting local youth.You've all seen Mike's weekly "Ya Gotta Try This" segments on Good Day Philadelphia, where he visits local restaurants and eating establishments to try their signature, and sometimes, unusual, dishes. Now you have the chance to do the same at the "Ya Gotta Try This" Tasting, Thursday, October 2nd, 6:30 to 9:30, at the Independence Visitor Center, One North Independence Mall W...
  • Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Wednesday, June 11 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-06-12 02:24:23 GMT
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
  • Veterans' Career Expo Held On Pearl Harbor Day

    Veterans' Career Expo Held On Pearl Harbor Day

    Friday, December 7 2012 6:04 PM EST2012-12-07 23:04:33 GMT
    December 7th, 1941, is of course "a date which will live in infamy." Seventy-one years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. The assault on the Hawaiian
    December 7th, 1941, is of course "a date which will live in infamy." Seventy-one years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. The assault on the Hawaiian
  • Bruce Gordon ReportsMore>>

  • Baby That Needs Specialized Formula Receives Overwhelming Support

    Baby That Needs Specialized Formula Receives Overwhelming Support

    Thursday, August 14 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-08-15 01:59:13 GMT
    Insurance policies have rules governing what's covered and what's not. Generally, they make sense. The rules are designed to prevent unreasonable costs from being passed along to the insurer, and by extension to other insurance customers. But listen to Sheree Kober's story. 
    Insurance policies have rules governing what's covered and what's not. Generally, they make sense. The rules are designed to prevent unreasonable costs from being passed along to the insurer, and by extension to other insurance customers. But listen to Sheree Kober's story. 

  • Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Getting Results: Resident Fed Up With Living Next To Vacant Home

    Wednesday, June 11 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-06-12 02:24:23 GMT
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
    Fox 29 is working to get results for one local woman who fears for her safety.In a region filled with rowhomes, a homeowners’ worst nightmare is the home next door becoming vacant, and slowly disintegrating.Sharon Redwood says she's owned her home on West 6th Street in Chester, Delaware County, for most of her adult life.She says the place next door has been vacant for years.It’s become an eyesore, and a dangerous one at that."The roof has fallen from the third floor, down to the basement. (F...
  • Philadelphia Police Says #NoSavesies To Public Parking

    Philadelphia Police Says #NoSavesies To Public Parking

    Wednesday, January 29 2014 7:10 PM EST2014-01-30 00:10:03 GMT
    It follows major snowstorms like day follows night, the practice of using old junk to save the parking space you just dug out!
    It follows major snowstorms like day follows night, the practice of using old junk to save the parking space you just dug out!
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Vigil Held For Teen Killed On North Philadelphia Basketball Court

    Vigil Held For Teen Killed On North Philadelphia Basketball Court

    Thursday, August 28 2014 12:48 AM EDT2014-08-28 04:48:59 GMT
    A shooting on a North Philadelphia basketball court has left a 17-year-old man dead.
    A shooting on a North Philadelphia basketball court has left a 17-year-old man dead.
  • Swedesboro Liquor Store Owner Accused Of Racist Comments

    Local Liquor Store Owner Accused Of Racist Comments

    Thursday, August 28 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-08-28 04:31:44 GMT
    A quiet little liquor store in Gloucester County is stirring up a big controversy. The store's owner is under fire accused of making racist comments to customers.
    A quiet little liquor store in Gloucester County is stirring up a big controversy. The store's owner is under fire accused of making racist comments to customers.
  • Police: Man Kills Wife At Hospital; Son Found Dead In Home

    Police: Man Kills Wife At Hospital; Son Found Dead In Home

    Thursday, August 28 2014 12:28 AM EDT2014-08-28 04:28:18 GMT
    Authorities say a man shot and killed his wife, then shot himself at a New Jersey hospital around 9:25 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
    Authorities say a man shot and killed his wife, then shot himself at a New Jersey hospital around 9:25 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices