Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cohocksink Church Philadelphia - Inherit the Wind

While doing some history research I ran into an image of a distant church spire circa 1910 with a view from 10th Street and Columbia (Cecil B Moore) Avenue in Philly.

("Cohocksink" - a Lenape Indian word for "pine lands".)

I found an image of the original church which looked much more exotic from the distance.

It had a troubling historic footnote, mired in race relations in the changing urban landscapes of 1900 America.

Presbyterian Churches in Kensington
In 1890, Cohocksink was one of the large churches in North Central Philadelphia, reporting 696 members, and 544 pupils in its Sunday school. Ten years later it had lost half of its membership, and continued to decline for the next 15 years. As members moved away because of racial change in the community, leadership and financial resources dwindled, and internal strife further weakened the congregation. In 1915 the church asked the Presbytery of Philadelphia to dissolve it. The congregation's lingering resentment toward those they blamed for bringing its fellowship and ministry to an end found expression in this provision of its petition: "We favor and support the transfer. . of the property. . . to the Trustees of Presbytery, the church building to be sold by them. . . (but not to a colored church or organization)." Proceeds from the sale of the property were placed in a Cohocksink Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, with income designated for the support of needy Presbyterian churches and missions in Philadelphia.

Which leads to the present day site of a once great congregation.

N Franklin Street and Columbia Avenue Today

"He that troubleth his house shall inherit the wind..." - - Proverbs 11:29