A reader checked in, asking about the curious vacant lot that’s next door to one of the more prominent (non-historic) tourist attractions in Philadelphia. If you’ve ever visited Pat’s Steaks at any hour of the day or night, you’ve probably noticed the murals that surround the vacant lot directly to the east at 829 Wharton St.

Perhaps you too have thought, ‘geez, isn’t it kind of weird that there’s this giant empty lot next door to Pat’s, I wonder what’s up with that?’

The lot


For years, a church was located here. According to this thread on Philadelphia Speaks, Slovak church St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church stood here, until it merged with another Slovak church in Northern Liberties in the late 1970s. The church finally came down in the early 1990s, and a mini-golf course was apparently established for a short time. It’s really tough to find any images of the church, but we found one, from a distance, snapped after the Lafayette Cemetery was closed, and before the Capitolo Playground was built.

That's the church, in the background. Best photo we could find

According to public record, the lot is owned by Anna Olivieri, a member of the family that owns Pat’s. Ms. Olivieri apparently owns some other parcels in the area, one of which was renovated in recent years by the Rachael Ray Show. On the plus side, the space is apparently available to become a garden under the supervision of the Passyunk Square Civic Association, if a group of committed near neighbors wish to put in the time and energy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the lot, which measures nearly 8,000 sqft, is available for sale for redevelopment, which would seem to be the most appropriate thing for this site.

In the meantime, enjoy the murals…

A bunch of dream boats