The fenced-in church building that once housed a Methodist congregation and then the Frankford Group Ministry soon will be torn down.
The Rev. Thomas Brooks, president of FGM’s board, said the city has arranged for the Romanesque building’s demolition. The city will then bill FGM for the work, he said, and the non-profit organization won’t be able to sell the property until the tab is paid.
Brooks said the city has indicated it wants to move quickly. The ministry had given the city the right to tear down the building, which was damaged in a summer wall cave-in, because the group didn’t have the funds to get the job done, he explained.
“It’s a safety issue,” Brooks said.
A wall of the church, visible from Orthodox Street, collapsed in mid-August. The cave-in was a surprise, Brooks said.
“To this date, we don’t know how that happened,” he said in a phone interview.
FGM bought the former Central United Methodist Church in the late 1990s, said Suzy Keenan, spokeswoman for the United Methodist Church’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The church building, erected in the 1890s, remained home to the Methodist congregation through 2005, when it closed.
In 1992, Brooks said, the church’s tower, which could be seen throughout Frankford, was found to be unstable and dismantled. In 2008, FGM sank $70,000 into repairing a wall on the building’s Griscom Street side that is now buckling again.
Since the wall collapse last summer, thieves have stolen some of the building’s stained glass. Recently, about 100 stained-glass windows were photographed and removed. Brooks said the ministry will try to sell the pieces to raise money for the demolition.
Frankford Group Ministry provided social services through city contracts until the city cut ties when budgetary problems became acute in 2008. For example, a city curfew center was housed in the building. At least one FGM member remained in the building until mid-2009, Brooks said.
The reverend said the group ministry will retain ownership of the property after demolition.
“The Frankford Group Ministry is a non-profit,” Brooks said. “Whatever we do (with the property), we hope to enhance the neighborhood … that what we do results in being a blessing to the neighborhood.” ••EndFragment