[Photo by Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks]
The former St. Peter's Episcopal Church on the 6000 block of Wayne Avenue in Germantown has been wasting away for much of the past decade, but thanks to an optimistic developer and a school in need of a new campus, this 130 year-old church designed by Frank Furness and George Hewitt is set for a new life as the Waldorf School of Philadelphia.
Scheduled for an August 2015 opening, this Gothic masterpiece had originally been set to open one year earlier. Thanks to good foresight, the date was pushed back to give ample time for proper renovations, including asbestos removal, roof replacement, and various other structural inefficiencies that need to be handled properly.
According to NewsWorks, developer Ken Weinsten purchased the four-building site (which includes the church, a rectory, parish house, and chapel) for $435,000 this past summer. One might see that as a steal before considering the estimated $5 million necessary for renovations.
It's rare to see a developer committed to rehabbing an older property like this one. More often that not, older churches meet the wrecking ball since they are often plagued with structural issues similar to those seen at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Older religious structures are a tough building type to reuse, so it's fairly common to see them turned into apartments or small business offices when under the right ownership. But truth be told, it's usually cheaper to demolish the exist structure and rebuild on an empty lot.
While Curbed always approves of a community-minded adaptive reuse project like this one, there are still several aging churches for sale across Philadelphia (we're looking at you, Church of the Assumption). Not all can be saved, but this at least shows that there is hope for the architectural preservation of Philadelphia's past.