Philadelphias Floating Architecture


Floating Church of the Redeemer, Philadelphia, 1847


Lieb House, 13th March 2009

Ok, so the Lieb House was in New Jersey, but at least its conception was Philly-centric. Today, the Venturi and Rauch designed house sailed under the Brooklyn Bridge on its journey to Long Island, waved on from South Street Seaport in the early morning by its architect and a gang of onlookers assembled by Storefront.

In a strange coincidence, on a recent trip to Philly to meet with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown – which included a road trip to see the Lieb House in its original location – I was idling in a bookshop and stumbled across a precedent for Philadelphias floating architecture in the shape of the Floating Church of the Redeemer.

This, on the floating church from Plan Philly:

“Moored off Dock Street from 1847-1851.This mobile house of worship was built in Bordentown NJ in 1847, and towed to Philadelphia’s bustling Dock Street wharf. Believed to be the first floating church on the East Coast (predating a similar church in New York by three years), The Floating Church of the Redeemer was a project of the Churchman’s Missionary Association for Seamen, an arm of the Episcopal Church, and was devoted to serving sailors. The church left Philadelphia in 1851, when its pier was leased for more worldly purposes. Towed to Camden, it was hauled ashore and dragged on rollers to the corner of Broadway and Rayden Streets where it served a small congregation under the name St. John’s. The land-locked river-church was consumed by fire on Christmas morning several years later.”


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