While the massive uCity Square campus is making the biggest change to the area, there is plenty of other activity in the gorgeous Powelton Village in West Philadelphia. At 3727 Baring St., a bit north of the uCity Square action, we find ourselves at the former home of Catalyst Church. This building has been around since the 1860s, and it looks remarkably well-kept even to this day. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it sits at the corner of one of those quiet, tree-lined streets that makes West Philly so magical.

My Project
A look at the church back in 1962
Brick and windows along the 38th St. side
The absurdly cute view looking east on Baring St.
The bank at 3748-52 Lancaster Ave. in the past
A look at the site, cleared and ready for action

As you can probably guess, there are plans for the church, though we aren’t quite sure what the final result will be as of right now. Per zoning documents and renderings from Kore Design, we could see a 20-unit adaptive reuse of this historically protected building. Dormers would be added to create livable units on the upper floors, but it appears that nearly all of the original details would be maintained as this structure shifts to residential.

The view today, looking remarkably similar
A closer look at the front facade, with many details still in good shape

While we applaud a good adaptive reuse, we aren’t entirely sure if this is what we’ll be seeing here. A demolition permit was also issued last year for the demolition of the entire structure, so it’s possible this could be a situation where the owner hopes the building will continue to crumble so that something new could be built. We sure hope this isn’t the case, as it would be sad to lose such great architectural character on such a great corner.

Speaking of nearby corners, there is another corner just to the south at 3748-52 Lancaster Ave., that appears to be prepping for a change. Formerly a bank, this triangular parcel has since been cleared, with plans for 40 units over ground floor commercial space, designed by Strada Architecture. While the old bank had a cool midcentury vibe, we certainly don’t mind seeing additional residential mass along a growing commercial corridor. Let’s check out what’s to come.

Elevation drawings give an idea of what's to come

As we’ve said time and again, West Philly is changing left and right, around nearly every corner. We love seeing the under-utilized properties get their glow-up, but we also hope to see the existing character of the area maintained to the extent possible. After all, the idiosyncrasies created by shifting architectural approaches over the decades are part of what make the area so singular and special.