Northeast Times

Frankford church is set to tumble

Cent­ral United Meth­od­ist Church on the corner of Griscom and Or­tho­dox in Frank­ford, on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.

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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.” ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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