Demolition under way on former S.H. church
CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Workers from Building Recyclers of Kutztown take down the tower of the former St. Stanislaus Church in Summit Hill.
A massive red brick church that has stood sentinel since 1925 on North Market Street in Summit Hill is being taken down.
St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, closed in 2008 by the Allentown Diocese as it restructured, began being demolished last week. Building Recyclers of Kutztown has been working at taking down the steeple and tower and demolishing the back of the former church.
When it closed, St. Stanislaus was folded into St. Joseph's Catholic Church, also in Summit Hill.
The Rev. James Burdess served both churches, and now serves St. Joseph's. He said the steeple of St. Stanislaus had been leaking.
"The storm last year, Sandy, started peeling off the roof, and did further damage to the tower itself. That tower had leaked before. The water kept coming in," he said.
After the church was closed, the diocese tried to sell it, but there were no takers. The stained glass windows and religious icons have been long since removed.
"It's been up for sale for five years and nobody seems to want it," Burdess said.
He said the government would not help fund the former churches conversion to apartments because there is already an apartment building across the street.
"It's a gigantic building," Burdess said. "It's three floors: the church on top, a school in the middle and a social hall in basement."
He does not foresee the land the church stands on being sold.
"It will be a yard for the rectory," Burdess said.
The church is considering placing some sort of memorial on the lot to mark St. Stanislaus' presence there.
Also, a large veterans monument on the corner cannot be moved because it's too big.
"It's staying put," Burdess said.
The diocese closed 47 churches when it restructured in 2008 due to an expected shortage of priests. Of those, 20 have been sold and three others are under agreement, said diocese spokesman Matt Kerr.
Three churches, not including St. Stanislaus, have been razed, two by the diocese and one by its new owner. St. George Church in Shenandoah, which was demolished for safety reasons in 2009-10, was also not included, he said.