Transfiguration of Our Lord
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Photo © 2007 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Transfiguration of Our Lord History
The Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in Philadelphia began as a small wooden structure built on farmland in 1905, but by the 1920s the parish has expanded to warrant a larger building for worship. In 1925, a lower level of the new church was constructed and open to services, while the more elaborate upper level was worked on and completed in 1928. This new edifice was one of Philadelphia's largest churches at the time, and the combined levels could seat over 2,100 people. Designed by Henry D. Dagit, the exterior was of a solid stone construction, and faience tiles and mosaics adorned the interior in almost every corner. The windows originated from world-famous Zettler stained glass in Munich, and twelve varieties of marble clad the pillars, altars, and steps were quarried from Italy and France. A massive 1,200 sq. ft. mosaic was installed above the altar depicting the Crucifixion, using 3/8 square glass tiles set by hand. The church was affectionately nicknamed "Transy" by the local parishioners in later years.
When the area's demographic began to shift away from the Irish Catholic families who worshiped here, the parish's congregation dwindled, as did the funds needed to maintain this massive structure. In 2000, the church merged with St. Carthage, however the Archdiocese opted to keep Carthage's building and shuttered the historic Transfiguration campus instead of making the necessary repairs and maintenance. It was soon purchased by a con-artist who promised to transform various closed churches into community centers, but spent the money on himself until he was sent to prison. The property was subsequently bought by The Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, who, only being interested in the school that was on the property, quickly proceeded to demolish the rectory and church. In 2009, almost all of Transfiguration's beautiful tile work, marble, and limestone carvings were destroyed and tossed into a landfill despite local efforts to salvage these materials.