The St. Michael Roman Catholic Church in South Kensington plans to sell the vacant property it owns across the street.
The building, located at Second and Jefferson streets, was once the St. Michael’s Business School, which provided business technology training for women hoping to enter the job market.
St. Michael’s Church shut down the school in the early 1990s, primarily because of low enrollment, tuition and new technology replacing the skills taught at the school said church office manager Grace Galaschewski. The La Salle Academy and charter schools have leased the facility temporarily since then.
“We don’t have a school any longer, so it would be foolish to hold onto a piece of property that may be of value to someone else,” Galaschewski said. “It’s an expense that… weighs on the parish as far as finances are concerned.”
Galaschewski said that it is a time of renewal for the church, which holds a good financial position within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Current church enrollments rival those held in the early 1800s when the church was first opened and popular in the community because of new immigrants.
“Most of the churches in this area are fairly fortunate that their parishioners are mostly of older generations and they believe in supporting the church as much as they can even with their limited incomes,” Galaschewski said.
The development of lower North Philadelphia has also brought in new parishioners to help the church.
“Because the area known as Northern Liberties is a gentrified area, younger people are coming and some of them are willing to join an organized religion,” Galaschewski said. “And in doing so they, present their time and talents, along with their finances to help the church.”
Parishioners from the St. Boniface Church—a primarily Hispanic North Philadelphia church that closed in 2006—have joined St. Michael’s, bringing greater ethnic diversity. “We were very fortunate that they chose to come this far to come to St. Michael’s,” Galaschewski added.
Because of the growing number of parishioners, St. Michael’s covers most day-to-day expenses through Sunday collections.
“We live on a very strict budget. We do our part to keep the cost down and they [parishioners] do their part in keeping us afloat financially,” Galaschewski said. It is part of maintaining this tight budget that St. Michael’s plans to sell the vacant building.
“The cost of maintaining a building that we’re not using? It’s not astronomical, but it does put a drain on our budget and doesn’t allow us to do some of the things that we think would be more important to the parish itself.” Galaschewski said the saved maintenance costs of the building could be applied to church education for children.
Note: The video states that the St. Michael’s Business School once offered a 2-year business program. This is true, however, starting in the late 1970s, the school changed into a 3-year program to better accommodate its students in a different work environment.
Great article except that the school did not close it’s doors in 1983. I know this because I graduated from St. Michael’s in 1989. Thanks for sharing this…it was really nice to see inside the school again! Brings back alot of memories!
Wow, brings back memories- Class of 1990
I lived in St. Mike’s from 1936 until 1958. First at 1439 N. 4th St. and then (1949) 1405 N. 2nd St. I spent many hours in the Lit. It was a great Parrish. We sold 1405 N. 2nd St. in 1965 for %2,500.00, when the children all married and left home, leaving our mother alone.
We sold, after my mother was mugged twice while walking home from work.
What a great neighborhood back then.
My apologies to the former St. Michael Business School alum. The records regarding the school from openning until closing are sketchy at best. While the article did not specify, we would like the building to be developed into something that the community surrounding it can be proud of in the future. Obviously, we will do our best to ensure the building is used for something worthwhile and not a project that would be reprehensible to our neighbors. If anyone is interested in the building or knows of an organization, group or individual who is please have them contact me at the above email address.
St. Michael’s was such a huge part of who I am today. It gave me confidence, a great education and many foond memories of my high school years. I wish they would let former students take a tour of the school. Does anyone know if they would/could do that?
class of ’86
I would suggest you contact the church directly.
School shut down in 2000, I was apart of the last graduating class. I actually tutored at La Salle Academy for bit after being accepted to La Salle College High School. Great school, brings back a lot of nostalgic memories looking at the pictures. Thanks for sharing.