Op-ed: Trinity Oxford important to Lawndale community

State Rep. Jared G. Solomon vows to protect Trinity Oxford.

Solomon

By State Rep. Jared G. Solomon, 202nd Legislative District

I am fighting to protect Trinity Oxford and produce an improved business corridor linked to our historic roots.

To me, Trinity is a special link to our past — the Gibbons PAL, the beautiful church and one of the few green spaces in our community. Trinity also represents our future, as this property can begin the turn toward a revitalized Rising Sun Avenue.

I took the important step of nominating Trinity Oxford Parish House to protect this important asset for the enjoyment and use of future generations of our community. If this building is demolished and replaced by a gas station, suddenly Rising Sun and Longshore loses its unique quality.

In August, I announced along with the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia that we had nominated the historic Trinity Oxford Church Parish House to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Here are the steps in the designation process:

Step one: The first step involved was submitting a thorough, complete and correct application to the Philadelphia Historical Commission, which was done on April 12 of this year. When, on Aug. 7, the Historical Commission notified Trinity Church Oxford of this nomination, the building was officially protected — at least for the time being — from demolition.

Step two: This week, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, the first of two public hearings on this designation takes place (9:30 a.m. at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor) in front of the Committee on Historic Designation. This is an advisory subcommittee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. After taking testimony, it will issue a non-binding recommendation to the full Commission for designation or not.

Step three: After this, the second and final public hearing will occur at the full Historical Commission meeting on Oct. 13 (9 a.m., 1515 Arch St., 18th floor). The Historical Commission will also take public testimony, hear from staff and experts about the nomination, and decide whether the Trinity Oxford Parish House merits addition to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Once it is listed on the Register, any application to demolish or alter the exterior of the building must be approved by the Historical Commission.

That being said, designation is just the first step. We are already working closely with preservation partners, the church, community leaders and other elected officials to find a long-term, viable use that both rehabs these buildings and provides much-needed revenue to the historic parish. The parish has taken many costly steps over the years to preserve the Parish House building, but it cannot financially risk the existence of the whole parish for much longer. I stand with our partners to prevent that from happening.

The next phase starts on Sept. 13. But it is important to know that historic designation opens up a variety of tax credit and grant funding otherwise not available to Trinity Oxford. I am ready to continue leading on this effort and am confident that working together we will craft a bright future for this site, the historic church itself and the larger Rising Sun Avenue commercial corridor. ••