Demolition of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church at 19th and Catherine
February 17, 2008 § 8 Comments
The demolition of the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church has been ongoing for the past several months and has been well covered in this photo stream [http://www.flickr.com/photos/lblanchard/] and here: [http://www.flickr.com/groups/swcc/].
Designed by Hazelhurst and Huckel, a firm with expertise in country houses and churches, the Fourth Reformed Unitarian Church was constructed in 1889. The once sacred space was worthy enough to deserve inclusion in a photographic survey of all Presbyterian churches in the city in a volume entitled: The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, A Camera and Pen Sketch of Each Presbyterian Church and Institution in the City. eds. White, William P., and William H. Scott, Philadelphia: Allen Lane & Scott, 1895). If you can get your hands on this book, take a look at page 226 where the structure is featured.
At what point the Fourth Reformed Unitarian Church became the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church is unclear though the church undoubtedly served the needs of the black population of the old 7th ward. What happened to this congregation (I do remember there being a notice tacked on the door of the church indicating a move) is unclear though the L&I notice indicated severe structural problems. Named for the first Bishop of the the AME Zion Church, A. James Varick, the church has effectively been effaced from the landscape of Philadelphia, to be replaced by condos. Below is a picture of the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in relatively happier days, in Spring 2007.