A reader asked us whether we knew anything about 540 Lombard St., a blighted, boarded up building near the corner of 6th and Lombard Sts., across the street from Starr Garden.


While Philadelphia has a somewhat staggering number of buildings just like this one, you don’t usually see too many of ’em in Society Hill. So how is it possible that this building is allowed to languish in disrepair while high end residential properties sell for exquisite sums on the same block? And is it possible that the owner of the property is absentee, and perhaps tax delinquent?

Regrettably, neither is the case. As it turns out, the building, along with its vacant next door neighbor, 542 Lombard St., is owned by Mother Bethel AME Church, located, oh, across the street! This beautiful, historic, and important church has been a fixture in the neighborhood for over 120 years. One would think that they wouldn’t want to drag down the block that surrounds their church with blighted buildings, but that’s exactly what’s happening.

The better news? Because the property is owned by a religious institution, it’s exempt from property taxes, even though it’s vacant!

We’re not sure whether penalties for the Doors and Windows Ordinance apply to properties owned by churches, but just in case, we’re calling 311 today. Don’t get us wrong- we absolutely don’t want to see a church pay those penalties. We just want the property owners to take responsibility for the blighting influence of the property, and to put some windows in that building right away.

Think of the children!

And if they don’t want to repair the building, they could always sell it…