Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Top Ten Worst Churches in Philadelphia: #10

In our recent post The Top 10 Reasons to Read the Project, I said that top 10 lists would be coming sooner than you think. Well, what better time to resurrect the idea than right now?

First, a few ground rules.

1. We’re only going to include churches that we have covered so far. University City’s gorgeous St. Agatha – St. James may very well be the nicest church around, but since we haven’t visited personally, it will have to be omitted for now.

2. We’re judging churches by how they look today. Perhaps not fair, as most churches have to go undergo décor renovations at some point, some more drastic than others. (Tabula Rasa, and so forth.) But again, we can only evaluate what we’ve seen personally. That St. Anne was absolutely gorgeous in 1947 doesn’t count, because we never saw it with our own eyes.

3. As a corollary to the above, abandoned churches don’t qualify. It’s not fair to judge them after years or even decades of The Long Goodbye.

4. Likewise, neither do demolished churches. Sorry, Transfiguration.

And now, let's get the bad ones out of the way by first tackling the 10 Worst Churches in Philadelphia. And we start with.....

#10: St. Anne, Kensington

Speaking of St. Anne, they clock in at #10 on our list.

Why They’re Here: Pretty much an awful décor all around. The bunker-like exterior—the so-called “fortress of faith”—is squat and ugly. Likewise, much of the interior is either plain or putrid. Or, as in the case of the renovated windows, both. Yes, it’s not entirely their fault, as a 1947 fire erased what looked to have been one of the best interiors in the city. But without a time machine, there’s nothing we can do.

Very little to write home about here.

Why They’re Not Lower: The sanctuary pieces are perhaps the best we’ve seen. And they have a graveyard. Plus, I kind of feel bad for them, with the whole fire thing and all.

Not bad enough to leave them off the list, but bad enough not to rub their faces in it.


  1. For the ground rules, will you consder the Artist/architectural/social style of the time?
    Many on the lesser "adored" church were born out of an era of "less is more".
    Please reconsider your guidelines, which , most I would agree with.

  2. I trust you're referring to older churches such as Old St. Joseph, which was built in that "less is more era." If you're trying to refer to more modern churches, well...you're pretty much in the wrong place.

    We do take the era of older churches into account; we even have a theorem built around them, so our reviews are coached somewhat.
    We do rate them comparatively, as we do everything else, but I wouldn't punish them excessively for it.