The Fire Marshal’s Office continues to investigate Sunday night’s two-alarm fire that heavily damaged the former St. Leo the Great Church, at 6658 Keystone St. (at Unruh Avenue) in Tacony.
On Monday, demolition began.
Firefighters arrived around 5:15 p.m. to find heavy fire at the stone structure.
More than 100 firefighters, medics, chiefs and support staff responded to the fire, which took about two hours to place under control. Several people were displaced from neighboring buildings that also sustained damage.
St. Leo opened in 1894. In July 2013, the church closed and merged with Our Lady of Consolation. Both parishes were experiencing declining Mass attendance.
St. Leo remained a worship site, open for occasional Masses, funerals, weddings and baptisms, until January 2019, when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced it would no longer be designated as a Roman Catholic church, citing the costs of maintenance.
Later in 2019, historian Celeste Morello led a successful effort to have St. Leo placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Earlier this year, the archdiocese sold the church.
St. Leo Elementary School closed in 2005. ••