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Broad Street church secures historic designation

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The designation was opposed by The Archdiocese of Philadelphia

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A very recognizable—and arguably iconic—church on Broad Street secured its historic designation last week.

The National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia was given a spot on the city register of historic places, meaning the Catholic church is saved from demolition or major renovations, according to a story from PlanPhilly.

The church was built in 1907 and sits just across from the Ellsworth-Federal stop on the Broad Street Line. Despite its 100-year-old status, the church has been in danger of closing since 1990, when an effort to revitalize the building started, according to the church’s website.

“By the year 2000, the Bishops of the United States designated it the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, incorporated as a non-profit, civil corporation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the church website states.

What followed was years of renovations and restoration efforts, focusing on the upper parts of the church and the lower shrine, according to the site.

PlanPhilly writes that The Archdiocese of Philadelphia opposed the site’s historic designation, arguing that there should be a separation of church and state. The effort to save the church was led by preservationist, Celeste Morello, who argued that it was “a hub for Irish immigrants” and a classic example of Roman Baroque-style architecture, PlanPhilly wrote.