The Philadelphia Church Project is a unique website that describes itself as a “wild and wacky guide to the best religious architecture the city has to offer.” The site offers the following questions for readers to ponder:
What does a building mean to you? Is it just a thing, a purely physical being? Or is there substance beyond the bricks and mortar? Might there be something more there—something more than the sum of its parts?
The site author visits various churches in and around Philadelphia and provides a glimpse into the history, architecture, and current status of the parish. Most of the churches are Roman Catholic, but several Protestant churches have also been visited. While the primary focus is the wonderful architecture of these old churches, the site also offers a comical take on the neighborhood or history of the area.
In addition to the Philadelphia Church Project website, there is also a Philadelphia Church Project blog. The blog offers additional photos – sometimes of the vintage variety – and information. Sample the site with these posts:
Assumption, Inside Out – an eerie and amazing photograph of the now-defunct Assumption BVM
Time Warp: St. Bonaventure – vintage photographs of another closed gem
As a genealogist with solid Catholic roots in Philadelphia, these sites are wonderful in documenting some of the grand churches of my ancestors’ neighborhoods. Take, for example, the Project’s page on St. Adalbert’s. The parish was founded in 1904 – and my great-grandfather was one of the founding parishoners. While you won’t find out that sort of information on the Project’s pages, they will help you “see” some of the churches of your ancestors!
Even if you are not from Philadelphia, if you have an interest in architecture I encourage you to browse the site and see what our city has to offer.