There’s a vacant and blighted building located at 1512-16 N. Broad St. that a couple readers have asked about of late, and with good cause, as it sticks out like a sore thumb. This building is not only a partially demoed shell right on the edge of Temple’s campus, but it also has a very unique facade, with wonderful Deco details. This facade led us to believe that the building was constructed in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and lo and behold, we were correct.

View from the north
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Getting closer
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Closer still

According to the Preservation Alliance, the building was constructed in 1933, designed by Edwin Rothschild. Originally used by the Joseph Levine & Sons Funeral Home, the building has been used by the Original Apostolic Faith Church since 1979. From the time that it was first built even to today, the building’s facade has presented a fine example of Art Deco design, with “ornate bas-relief panels set between monumental limestone piers and crowned Egyptian urns.” Unfortunately, a fire struck the property in the spring of 2018, and a large section of the rear was soon demolished due to safety concerns. On the plus side, the facade remained largely intact, even as the rear of the building has been gutted and partially torn down.

Though the fire took place more than two years ago, the church is still working to renovate the building so that the congregation can return. In early 2019, they proposed demolishing the building so they could rebuild, but the Historical Commission batted down that proposal. A few months later, the church came forward with a new plan to demolish most of the building, but to preserve the facade and the first fifty feet of the building behind it and a one-story building in the rear of the property. During this time, the church also successfully fought off an Act 135 effort, in which a 3rd party sought to take conservatorship over the building. According to court records, the church is now fighting with their insurance companies, in an effort to get the funds to repair their building, hence its continued blighted and vacant state. Those legal efforts will continue into 2021.

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View on the block just a few years back

The church not only owns the building at 1512 N. Broad St., but they also own the two vacant lots immediately to the north. Temple owns five adjacent vacant lots, all of which had buildings on them until half a dozen years ago. We have to wonder whether the university and the church might come to some kind of agreement in which Temple agrees to buy the church’s lots, and maybe even the church itself, and combines everything into a new vertical development. Such a project would seem like a win-win, providing the church with additional funds to repair their building, ensuring the preservation of a historic facade, and filling in several lots that are currently sitting vacant. It’s just a shame it’s not big enough for a football field.