Everything you said about BVM in South Philly is right on the money.
Its best asset is definitely the Munich, Germany called, " of Munich Inc." . They were purchased in 1900 (almost 40 years after the church was built) from a company in
The sanctuary had a beautiful tall marble altar which was cut down to just a table top around 1968. See attached photo circa 1937.The sanctuary had many other ornaments which unfortunately are no longer there.
There was a centrally-located spire which was damaged and later condemned by the city. The spire was removed around 1933. See attached photo from May 1871.
The facade was painted a solid red because the bricks were deteriorating and they thought the paint would preserve them from further deterioration. (Annunciation BVM will be 150 years old next year).
I too would have liked to see Annunciation in its prime!
I'm going to upload said pictures to the Annunciation page, but in the meantime, here they are:
Not bad, eh? It confirms that Annunciation is very much a Tabula Rasa church, and was originally much more ornate: mural work in and around the sanctuary, and far nicer main and side altars. Some lost ornamentation, such as the ceiling, was no doubt the work of damage. But the sanctuary? If Tom is correct about the year (1968), then it's no doubt a misguided attempt to embrace the principles of Vatican II.
(Don't worry, I'll spare you my ranting on THAT topic for another time.)