THIRD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
LOCATION: CHESTER, PA
CLIENT: CHESTER HISTORICAL PRESERVATION COMMITTEE
MARKET SECTOR: PUBLIC
The Third Presbyterian Church, built-in 1895-1896 and designed by prominent master architect Isaac Pursell, is an excellent example of the theatrically inspired Protestant churches of the period and a work of significant architectural merit. Abandoned and vacant, the Late Gothic Revival-style edifice was targeted for demolition when a local historic preservation group stepped in to stave off its demise.
The Presbyterian Church had given up hope of maintaining an active congregation in the building and had an active demolition permit in hand when the Chester Historical Preservation Committee intervened and acquired the church. The city of Chester has lost many of its older structures and is not a magnet for investment in restoring those that remain. Without funds for maintenance or improvement, ownership by a benevolent party does not guarantee the survival of a historic building. The best hope for preserving the church is most likely an adaptive reuse project funded by a commercial investor who recognizes the building’s significance.
THE PS&S SOLUTION
With funding from Partners for Sacred Places, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of religious buildings, PS&S prepared a nomination for the listing of the church in the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination received unanimous approval from the state review board and is now being considered by federal authorities for what is anticipated to be a similarly successful result. Listing in the National Register will be a valuable first step in enabling the preservation of the church by raising awareness of its significance, leveraging funds and engaging individuals or organizations in a position to ensure its survival.