The Church of the Assumption, which was placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in May 2009, remains a source of contention between the owners and the surrounding community, as the condition of the building continues to decline...The property has been on the market since January, said Joe Lukach, executive director of Siloam. But no buyers who can afford the restoration “have surfaced,” he said...At the Historical Commission hearing next week, “we hope we will be able to get an understanding that the organization has a financial hardship and is suffering financially as a result of keeping the building up,” he said. Siloam’s goal is to get the permit to knock it down...The church was designed and built in 1848-49 by Patrick Charles Keely, the most prolific ecclesiastical architect in 19th-century America. Edward Furey, founder of the Keely Society that is dedicated to documenting the architect’s work, said the Spring Garden Street church is “most likely the last surviving example of the first year of his church designs.” ..Siloam recently requested the support of the West Poplar NAC in its hardship claim, Palewski said. “But as the primary civic association for the neighborhood, the NAC has consistently supported the preservation of the church since the threat of demolition arose early last year
.”..“But the owner is pursuing a hardship claim with the Historical Commission. And to support this claim the owner must demonstrate, among other things, that it has tried to sell the building to no avail. There is a ‘for sale’ sign on the building, an agency listing the property, and an agent representing the owner. But at the end of the day, the owner holds all of the cards, and if they’re not motivated to sell, then the property is not going to sell.”..The interior was still in that condition in spring 2009, when a Philadelphia art dealer, Ellen Schicktanz proposed buying the building and setting up an art gallery, Palewski said. “But by the time Mrs. Schicktanz was given access to the site a few months later, most of the interior elements had been destroyed. The historic details that attracted her to the space were gone, and so was her interest in buying the church,” Palewski said..“If Lukach had been genuinely interested in selling the building, it would have made sense that he wouldn’t do interior demolition until potential buyers had looked at it,” Bill Schicktanz said.