Former St. Bonaventure Catholic Church Now Dangerous Eyesore - New York News

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>>

  • Getting Results: Woman Says Her Car Was Damaged By Plow Truck

    Getting Results: Woman Says Her Car Was Damaged By Plow Truck

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:05 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:05:44 GMT
    When a worker for a State Agency accidentally does you harm, you might expect to be compensated in some way.However, when an Emergency Proclamation is declared all bets are off/Sheila Bradley-Oben searched for photos that illustrate the scene when her son called her the night of February 13th.“He was like, 'Mom, I have something to tell you...your car has been damaged.' and I said, 'damaged?' what happened?” Oben explained.She says her 2002 Nissan Altima was covered in a mound of ice and snow...
    When a worker for a State Agency accidentally does you harm, you might expect to be compensated in some way.However, when an Emergency Proclamation is declared all bets are off/Sheila Bradley-Oben searched for photos that illustrate the scene when her son called her the night of February 13th.“He was like, 'Mom, I have something to tell you...your car has been damaged.' and I said, 'damaged?' what happened?” Oben explained.She says her 2002 Nissan Altima was covered in a mound of ice and snow...
  • Fox 29 Gets Results For Residents Fed Up With Illegal Dumping

    Fox 29 Gets Results For Residents Fed Up With Illegal Dumping

    Monday, April 14 2014 9:51 PM EDT2014-04-15 01:51:35 GMT
    Residents along the 8400 block of Crane Street have been putting up with "short-dumpers" in their neighborhood for years.
    Residents along the 8400 block of Crane Street have been putting up with "short-dumpers" in their neighborhood for years.
  • 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
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dead cats found hanging from trees in Yonkers

    Dead cats found hanging from trees in Yonkers

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:03 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:03:00 GMT
    SPCA of Westchester photoSPCA of Westchester photo
    Police are investigating the discovery of at least two dozen dead cats found inside plastic bags hanging from trees in Yonkers Thursday, according to the SPCA of Westchester. Some of the cats were badly decomposed but others appeared more recently killed.
    Police are investigating the discovery of at least two dozen dead cats found inside plastic bags hanging from trees in Yonkers Thursday, according to the SPCA of Westchester. Some of the cats were badly decomposed but others appeared more recently killed.
  • Some residents return after NJ brush fires force evacuations

    Some residents return after NJ brush fires force evacuations

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:42:55 GMT
    A school and many homes in Ocean County, N.J., were evacuated on Thursday afternoon because of several brush fires that were fanned by winds. Some residents returned a few hours later. The largest fires burned about 300 acres around Berkeley Township. Firefighters had about 30 percent contained late Thursday night.
    A school and many homes in Ocean County, N.J., were evacuated on Thursday afternoon because of several brush fires that were fanned by winds. Some residents returned a few hours later. The largest fires burned about 300 acres around Berkeley Township. Firefighters had about 30 percent contained late Thursday night.
  • 'Here Lies Love'

    'Here Lies Love'

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:33 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:33:22 GMT
    "Here Lies Love" tells the rise and fall of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. History meets disco literally as the story is told in a nightclub.Ruthie Ann Miles plays Marcos. Miles admits a big challenge is bringing to life a woman with views vastly different from her own and giving that to show-goers. "As an actor you believe in yourself," Miles says. "You need to be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter so that the audience can come on a journey with you."
    "Here Lies Love" tells the rise and fall of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. History meets disco literally as the story is told in a nightclub.Ruthie Ann Miles plays Marcos. Miles admits a big challenge is bringing to life a woman with views vastly different from her own and giving that to show-goers. "As an actor you believe in yourself," Miles says. "You need to be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter so that the audience can come on a journey with you."
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices