We spent several years combing Philadelphia for the perfect “forever home” for Circadium. We looked at warehouses, schools, and municipal buildings. It became clear, after a couple of dozen site visits, that the only places that felt truly right were churches.
Besides the obvious height advantages of churches, there are also important architectural and cultural qualities that appealed to us. A church is inspiring. It draws your eyes upwards. It celebrates history. And it provides a meaningful home for a community. Once we identified these priorities, our search narrowed, and became harder.
But then, less than a mile from our previous location, we finally arrived at the St. Madeleine Sophie Church in Mt. Airy. St. Madeleine Sophie was a Catholic church, built in the 1930s, and it was part of a consolidation process – the diocese took three churches in this area and combined them into one. To our great fortune, this extraordinary building and its green campus became available in early 2017.
The sanctuary, with its unique concrete arches that peak at 40′, is the jewel of the property. But directly below it is a 5,000 sq ft gymnasium with 17′ ceilings, which is also perfect for circus training. Additionally, there is an attached school building, which holds 10 separate classrooms. These classrooms have been converted to offices, rehearsal studios, and specialty training spaces. The entire property has over 25,000 sq. ft . of useable space, dwarfing the old Philadelphia School of Circus Arts (which had 5,000 sq. ft.)
In 2017, we renovated this building into everything we needed for a circus school.