Diocese: Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania
Deanery: Philadelphia Deanery
817 N 7th St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123-2008
PO Box 16459
Spring Garden Station
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Philadelphia, PA 19111-1367
From New Jersey
Cross the Ben Franklin Bridge to Rt 676. After crossing bridge stay in right lane to he first light, sign reads Franklin St. Turn right going north; Franklin St becomes 7th St. At the 2nd stop sign, Brown St, you will see St Nicholas on your right. Turn right onto Brown and make the first left on Hoffman Pl at the end of the fence, and again turn left into the church parking lot.
Coming north on 95
Whem you get near center city, make your way onto the left lanes, and exit left on exit 22 (old exit 17) onto Center City/Callowhill exit. Stay in right lane. A short way on top of knoll exit on Callowhill exit. As you proceed on Callowhill work your way to the right lane, and exit right onto 7th St. At the 2nd stop sign, Brown St, you will see St Nicholas on your right. Turn right on Brown and make the first left onto Hoffman Place at end of the fence, and turn left into the church parking lot.
Coming south on 95
When you get near the city, make your way to the right lanes, and exit right on exit 22 (old exit 17) onto Center City/Callowhill exit. At light turn right and stay in right lane. Turn right onto 7th St. At the 2nd stop sign, Brown St, you will see St Nicholas on your right. Turn right on Brown and make the first left onto Hoffman Place at end of the fence, and turn left into the church parking lot.
Coming north or south off Rt 76
Take Center City exit and contine east on 676. Proceed in center lane until you pass Broad St, then get into right lane and exit at 8th St / Chinatown exit. Stay in left lane. At light go one more block and turn left on 7th St. Go north on 7th St. At the 2nd stop sign, Brown St, you will see St Nicholas on your right. Turn right onto Brown and make the first left on Hoffman Pl at the end of the fence, and again turn left into the church parking lot.
Schedule of Services
In 1833, Joshua Fisher and his wife, Elisha, purchased property which now is the site of St Nicholas Church. In 1840, John Davis and his wife Sarah purchased the property adjoining to the south. These properties were situated in the east side of 7th St in the district of Spring Garden. In the county boundaries, they used a small country road called Coates St. In 1845, Mr Davis of Philadelphia sold his property to Joseph Sharpless for $5,916.66. The property sold to Mr Sharpless consistd of six brick and one frame buildings. The frame building was a barn. Mr Sharpless, being dissatisfied with the size of a farm, purchased his neighbor’s lot (belonging to Mr Fisher) in 1847. Mr Fisher received $2,083.34. This situation made the property 100’x100’. In 1852, a reorgainzed Dutch Congregation was looking for ground to build a church. In the same year Mr Sharpless sold his property for $5,000.00 to the Second Dutch Reform Church. The erection of the church took the design of many other buildings of previous eras. It took two years to complete the church, and on March 5, 1854, the building was dedicated by Minister Joseph Berg. This was the first parish to wander into this pioneer type wilderness beyond the Vine St city limits of Philadelphia. The countryside of the County of Philadelphia became less rural. In the 1880s it became part of the city. The once Coates St became Fairmount Ave.
On November 22, 1917, Peter Solovay and his wife Ludmilla, purchased the church building occupied by the Second Dutch Reform Church for $22,700.00. Under the direction of Protopresbyter Basil Kurdiumov, a group at St Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, for various reasons, primarily their church could not accomodate the huge congregation. Another Board of Trustees was organized; they bought the property from M/M Solovay and the Russian Orthodox Independant Congregation and Church of St Nicholas was chartered on December 20, 1918. On that day an Orthodox Cross was lifted and planted on the roof of the church by members of St Nicholas Church.
The interior of the Second Dutch Reform Church was remodeled and redecorated to make it suitable for Orthodox Liturgical Services. The iconostas was constructed. The walls of the interior of the building were written by iconographer George Novikoff. The work of the interior of the church took less than 2 years. In November, approximately 5,000 took part in a procession, led by a cross bearer, banner bearers and flags. St Nicholas under the pastorship of Fr Vasile Kravstsoff was officially dedicated. The new congregation consisted of 782 married families. The spiritual and material state of the new parish was high. Income in the first year surpassed $21,000. In 1923, Fr Kurdiumov became pastor, and to 1935, the following served as pastors: Fr John Kedrovsky, Fr M D Chervinski, Fr Nicholas Senofsky, Protopresbyter N Uspenski, Protopresbyter A Shabashev, and Fr Jonah Koretsky.
In 1931, under Protopresbyter N Uspenski, the Sisterhood of the Protection of the Theotokos was organized, and is still active in the life of the church. The Sisterhood asssures that the Church interior is kept spotless. The women are always concerned with the beautification of the Church. They prepare many dinners for the parish functions. In 1939, the Sisterhood purchased from Europe a very beautiful gold-plated cross for $600 that stands in the center of the church to this day.
During the Great Depression, in 1935 Fr A Gaugnin was assigned to St Nicholas. The financial condition of the parish was very poor during the Depression years. In 1937, a special commission was established and was to concern itself with the payment of the debt on the Parish home to the Integrity Trust Company. The legal aspects were handled by Atty Charles Harding. The total debt of the parish at this time was $22,000. Through the efforts of Atty Harding and his dealings with the bank, an agreement whereby the sum of $1,000 was paid in cash, and the debt was reduced to $14,000. Payments were $2,000 per year. Under this plan, the debt was liquidated.
The 25th Anniversary of the parish was in 1942. The interior of the church was again restored by the original iconographer George Novikoff. The marbleizing was done by Simeon Filipovich Frederick. All of the above was done at a cost of $8,075. Other accomplishments were the reconstruction of the East wall, a new ambo, the Church front was redone with white stone stairwells, new railings installed, and the rectory remodeled - at a cost of $22,096.00. The parishioners immediately donated $12,177.20 to help liquidate this debt.
On October 28, 1945, the church wa blessed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Theophilus. The Metropolitan blessed the church with holy water and oils, with the appropriate prayers read. The Hon Bernard Samuel, Mayor of Philadelphia, delivered an impressive address. After the Liturgy, a banquet was held in the church hall. A capacity crowd was in attendance. The toastmaster was A A Wotowitch. Prayers were sung for the continued health of all parishioners, and Memory Eternal was sung for all deceased parishioners.
During World War II, St Nicholas gave its fair share of men and women to the service of their country, and had many casualties. Through diligent fund raising efforts St Nicholas purchased a tank and a P-38 fighter plane and other military supplies for the US war effort. At the end of the war they returned to active parish life. The character of the church changed with new adult members participating in all phases of church life. Many parishioners also served in World War I, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Haiti and continue to serve in the military even to this day.
Fr Gougnin retured in July 1956 after 21 years as pastor of St Nicholas. Two years later he died, and his Matushka followed him in blessed repose two years later. Fr Paul Zlatkovsky was pastor from 1956-58, and during his tenure the Church School program once again became active and sparked with enthusiasm.
Fr Vladimir Borichevsky arrived in 1958, and at the same time, the surrounding neighborhood began its urban renewal. Starosta Alexander Leon and Fr Vladimir encouraged the purchase of the properties surrounding the Church, and the new parish home and choir director’s home were purchased soon thereafter, In 1967, with Mr Peter Kavchok as Starosta, new doors and windows were put in the church, and a wrought iron fence was erected around the entire church property, wihout indebtedness.
In 1967, St Nicholas celebrated its 50th Anniversary, with the Most Rev Ireney, Archbishop of New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, and His Grace, Rt Rev Kiprian, Bishop of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania officiating. After the 50th Anniversary, a new rood and cornices were replaced.
In 1971, Fr Borichevsky left for an assignment at St Tikhon’s Seminary. For the next two years, the parish was served by several monks from St Tikhon’s. In 1972, Fr Paul Borick was assigned as permanent pastor. During his pastorate, the church annex was remodeled, and the exterior of the church was completely refurbished. New stained glass windows designed by Matthias Von Reutlinger were installed. In 1974 the parish was serviced by Hieromonk Sebastian (Gyza) and other clergy from St Tikhon’s.
In April 1976, Fr John Bohush was assigned as permanent pastor, after serving as a Chaplain in the US Air Force. Since the coming of Fr Bohush, the rectory was entirely refurbished and the first restoration of the church interior was begun by restoration specialist Harry Niblock. It took seven years to complete at the cost of 7 cents per square inch. Prior to the 60th Anniversary, the altar table was restored and consecrated to conform to Orthodox tradition with the placing of a relic of a saint into the altar table.
The church was rededicated at its 60th Anniversary in 1977 by Metropolitan Theodosius and Bishop Herman. Under the leadership of the Parish Council president George Sinitsky, St Nicholas was made handicapped accessable, including an elevator, to meet federal standards. A three-phase electrical system, and the entire electrical system of the church was upgraded. The park lot was expanded, the exterior lighting was modernized, an alarm system was installed, two containers were purchased for storage, sidewalks were replaced or repaired, the sub-basement walls and pillars were reinforced because the modern traffic weakend the structure. A new asphalt roof was installed, and the paintable exterior portions of the church, including the columns, were painted. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, St Nicholas sponsored five restoration specialists from the Ukraine to complete another more intense restoration of the iconography and interior to the original 1917 beauty and configuration. A great portion of the interior was gold leafed to engance the striking beauty of the church.
Then under a leadership of William Simpson, a five-year $300,000 pay-as-you-go program was necessary. When the church interior was done, an engineering survey prompted the first $65,000 reinforcement of sub-supports and replacement of damaged 150 year old sewer lines. When that was done, plans were drawn to place a cupola and new cross on the church roof when another structural problem necessitated an $85,000 church floor and choir loft supports. The church hall was air-conditioned. A new Plaschanitsa was made and an antique icon of St Nicholas was donated to the church where our parish Family Patron Saint Site be established. The church hall was modernized , including the rest rooms. Everything was made
We look at ourselves as the Old Church in the New World. All of our services are in English, yet we retain the traditions and customs of our parish incorporators. An inner city parish whose closest parishioners live 10 miles away, yet we are a spiritual magnet to members who commute from a 75 mile radius to be with and support us. We believe we are the finest, we give the best, we provide the authentic Orthodox Faith of our fathers who came to Philadelphia over 100 years ago. A commendable accomplishment unparalleled near and far.
Our completely restored beautiful church of St Nicholas in first-class condition was our aim, and we have pretty well met our dreams and schedules. Preparing for the future generation was our priority, having the next generation already experienced to assume the responsibility was our goal. Our hope is to turn the reigns of our church to a well-prepared leadership in the third millenium. We believe we have successfully done all we could. We believe our next generation is ready, and we will not be disappointed. Our youth have done exremely well in their personal lives, and they will continue to do wonders for Orthodoxy and St Nicholas Church.
Our next, upcoming generation leadership, the young adult generation, skillfully planned and administered our elegant, spiritually uplifting 90th Anniversary celebration, featuring our hierarch Bishop Tikhon, assisted by the entourage of subdeacons, readers, altar boys, deacons, tserkovniki and priests, provided a beautiful hierarchal Liturgy, enhanced by the wonderful choral music by the church choir, under the direction of Choir Director, Matthew Bohush. All this contributed to a historic memorable 90th Anniversary.
The celebration was completed with the elegant, sophisticated Grande Banquet/Dinner at the Cesaphe Banquet Ballroom, a dinner and service second to none. This 90th Anniversary, chaired by Marsha Zaruba-O’Connor, will go down in our church history as one of the most elegant, dignified, superb and memorable events in the history of St. Nicholas.
Latest improvements include a new large spot-lighted church sign visible to all vehicle traffic and passerbys. Another church sign was affixed to the church front, indicating the Church name and service schedule. Above the Church front doors a major icon of St. Nicholas, with lesser icons of SS. Basil, Mary, Gregory and Olga, patrons of the project donors. The huge iconic columns in the church front, and all paintable items were refurbished and painted. All the shrubbery and trees were trimmed and reshaped to beautify the church grounds. The parking lot was resurfaced. New carpeting was recently installed in the Altar. Assisted by Deacon Joseph Edwards, the Church School and Saturday programs are being retooled to meet our present day needs. Not to forget our continued support for our American Military in prayer and deed, and our annual Memorial Day Prayers for those who have sacrificed their lives in the defense of our Great Nation, and the support for those families survivors left behind. Our Clergy Staff, Parish Council and Staff Volunteers are always observing and coordinating to keep St. Nicholas a first class organization and operation.
When anyone enters St Nicholas they are immediately struck with awe and amazement because of its size and amazing beauty for an inner city parish. It is a wonderful place to pray, and the amazing acoustics enhance the beautiful voices of our choir. Come and visit us on your next trip to the city of Philadelphia. You won’t be disappointed.