More than 117 years of the Philadelphia elements took their toll this summer on the tower of the Christ Memorial Church at 43rd and Chestnut streets, reducing it to a mound of rubble.
The tower collapsed to the ground on Aug. 3 at approximately 10:30 p.m. The exact cause of the collapse is unknown, although the age of the structure is thought to be the primary reason. Nobody was seriously injured, despite the fact that the debris -- which mostly consisted of heavy stones -- covered the sidewalk and part of the road.
Philadelphia Firehouse Engine 5, Ladder 6 was the first to respond. Taking place just one block away from the 43rd and Market firehouse, the crash was large enough to be audible to the firemen.
"They came running down the street, and some of the neighbors actually saw them with their boots in their hands," church spokeswoman Lynda Dent said. "That's how fast they came."
In addition to acting as a place of prayer, the church also housed an elementary school and a homeless shelter.
The shelter -- called the Lutheran Settlement House -- caters to families. Approximately 90 people were living in the structure at the time of the collapse, though they were on the opposite side of the building.
Those people were relocated to a number of shelters around the city. The portion of the building that housed the shelter is currently undergoing construction to strengthen it.
"We're making sure that Lutheran House will be able to get back into the building," Dent said.
The prayer services and the Christ Academy elementary school, however, are indefinitely relocated to the Grace Reformed Episcopal Church in Collingdale, about six miles from Christ Memorial.
The congregation of about 40 to 60 members is actively trying to raise money to restore the tower, which they think will cost millions of dollars.
Members are hoping their insurance company will provide part of that sum. Dent says the insurance company will decide on Friday the amount of money it will award the church.
"We are very disappointed at this moment with the insurance company and their performance," Dent said. "They have been very, very slow."
Dent would not reveal the name of the company but said it is a national insurance company that insures places of worship.
Many neighbors of the church and its newly rubbled exterior are unclear about the entire incident.
"I just came into work and it was collapsed," said Kathy Nguyen, receptionist at the neighboring Intercultural Family Services, Inc. "I don't really know what's going to happen to it."Comments powered by Disqus
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