During my visit to West Philly's Our Mother of Sorrows, I speculated at great length as to the changes the building must have undergone in its long and troubled life, since a church built in 1867 certainly wouldn't look the way that place looked.
Project reader Eileen, whose family has roots in the church, has provided a couple of vintage images to whet our appetites.
Hope you don't mind as I was reading your project info on Phila parishes. I hope to find other family pictures to show you that can let you see what it looked like before it got into it's slump.
By the way.....I know you mentioned how bad the painting was now and my cousin told me it was Fr. Daly who was pastor who painted the church by hand himself. There was no money for improvements so he took on the job himself.
As I suspect, in 2008, OMS was a long, long way from 1867. Or, in this case, even 1962.
The most glaring difference is the spectacular altar, which is nowhere to be seen now. Churches have done a lot of stupid things to their decor post-Vatican II, but getting rid of altars usually wasn't one of them. Annunication BVM is the only other parish I've seen it do it, and that's because it's a !%@$#% terrible idea with no tangible benefit.
There's also confirmation of murals above the side altars, and what look to be completely different stations of the cross. Well, either that or they ripped out the frames, but again, that would be a decision that makes very little sense.
I hope to see more from this church, because it looked pretty remarkable back in the day. Certainly a lot better than this, no?