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West Presbyterian Church

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1870–1871, Samuel Sloan. 1994–1997 rebuilt, George Yu Architects. 500 W. 8th St.

This steep-roofed, Gothic Revival structure by a prominent Philadelphia architect used red pressed brick and Ohio stone for Ruskinian Gothic color contrast, including banded arches. In an audience room larger than that at nearby Grace Methodist (WL45), nearly a thousand people could be accommodated in seats made by Jackson and Sharp Car Works of Wilmington. Heavily in debt, the church nearly faced a sheriffs sale during the Financial Panic of 1873. In the 1940s, West was one of the largest congregations in the city, but after many of its white congregants fled to the suburbs, it shrank to just 148 members by 1993, the year it was gutted by fire. As rebuilt by a Philadelphia architect who had studied under Louis I. Kahn, the church differs greatly from the original building, incorporating only a few architectural fragments from the old structure—even retaining the fire-damaged walls was deemed too expensive—and devoting the great majority of its interior space not to worship but community outreach.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard
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Citation

W. Barksdale Maynard, "West Presbyterian Church", [Wilmington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DE-01-WL42.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 113-113.

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