Demolishing churches and replacing them with new construction has been a common practice for developers in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood over the past few years. Mount Olive AME, Metropolitan AME and others have faced the wrecking ball, as dwindling local congregations have led to churches moving to new locales or simply dissolving. The loss of these buildings is significant, as they provided architectural diversity to an increasingly homogenous neighborhood, and also presented a link to the neighborhood’s past.
Last week, at the SOSNA zoning meeting, developers presented a proposal for yet another church demolition, this time at the southwest corner of 19th & Catharine. We took a look at this very intersection just a couple of weeks ago, wondering about the long-vacant property on the northwest corner.
At the meeting, the developers proposed three homes that will face 19th Street. The two southern homes will have garages, while the corner home will have a parking space that can be accessed in the rear of the building. The SOSNA Zoning Committee seemed a little troubled about the two garages, as well as the lack of open space in the rear. However, with several other garage-front properties on the block, we’d guess that the ZBA will allow them.
As for the loss of another church in the neighborhood, it’s still a shame even if this particular structure isn’t much to write home about. Bethel Gospel Tabernacle was a community center for many people over the years, and that place will be gone forever. But this is what happens in cities and neighborhoods- buildings come down, new buildings go up. And decades from now, will people be saying the same things about these homes when plans emerge for a new high rise on this corner? We’ll check back in then, ok?