Looks Like the W.G. Schweiker Building is Coming Down

It was nearly seven years ago that we first brought the W.G. Schweiker building at 2621 W. Jefferson St. to your attention, noting at the time that it was listed for sale for $80K (too high a price, at the time!). The building caught our eye because it had spectacular bones and a particularly memorable cornice. This makes sense, as the business that once occupied the building was a roofing and construction business that specialized in cornices, along with skylights, heaters, and ranges. We were hopeful, at the time, that whoever bought the building would be able to renovate it and maintain some of its unique original details.

View from Jefferson

So we were very excited, soon after, when we learned that MM Partners had purchased the building and was working on a renovation plan to convert the building into an artist live/work space. Ultimately though, those plans never came to fruition and the property sold to new owners in 2017, trading at $260K (amazingly, a rather fair price just a few years later). Soon after, we learned that the new owners were also looking to renovate the existing building, with a residential conversion on the horizon. We don’t know what changed, but looking at the current state of the building and the permits from a couple months ago, it seems that the building and the associated warehouse to the north are both getting demolished. Already, the warehouse is almost all gone.

View of the warehouse behind the main building
Cornice is on the ground
View in the past

It’s a little strange to see the cornice intact, sitting on the ground across the street from the property. The fact that the demo contractor didn’t smash it up gives us a sense that it will be preserved and reused somewhere, though it’s probably not a good idea to leave it sitting around on the ground for very long.

As for what will replace the Schweiker building, there are no permits just yet, but we expect an apartment building of some kind, as the property is zoned for multi-family use. You can pretty much bet your life though, that the new building won’t compare to what’s getting demoed. It’s a shame that we’re losing this unusual building that has been sitting neglected for so many years. If you’d like to catch a last glimpse of the building before it disappears, we suggest hightailing it to Brewerytown sooner rather than later.

  • Philly Tipster

    Yeah, it is a real shame indeed! So is losing that other old building on Washington Avenue….

    • JimmiefromFeeshtown

      I think what you meant to say was junky, boxey, old warehouse with boarded up windows and nothing special about it

      • chris

        It appears that every old building is not historic and worth saving. Personally if there isn’t any significant to it (first of its kind, historic monument/ movement happened there, etc). then it does not need to be saved. Cities grow and change, I am pretty sure no one will remember this building in about 2 weeks. Not like City Hall is being demolished.

        • Philly Tipster

          Which is not what anyone said.

          This was clearly a unique building, historic or not. Replacing buildings like this with another crappy, bay-fronted box covered in metal panels or vinyl siding is not gain for the city if the building could have otherwise been saved and re-used.

          Perhaps it was just too far gone to be saved, in which case it would be exactly what I said it was; a shame.

          • Circa79

            You are a big fan of what it looked like before demolition? Before an area gentrified folks have no concern about the poor condition of older structures. Once an area gets discovered by millenials with degrees suddenly there is lots of hand wringing every time something over 70 years old is torn down in spite of the fact that the building in question has often sat vacant for decades.

          • Philly Tipster

            Because this is a binary choice? There are more than two possible outcomes here, but anti-preservation folks love to act as if a building either must remain vacant and run-down forever or be torn down. There is a middle road here.

            We certainly don’t need to save every old building in this city, or even most of them. But we should be working to preserve the relatively few, unique buildings whenever we can.

          • Circa79

            who is “anti preservation”? I hope you aren’t talking about me. What is the middle road if there is no market rate appeal for a structure that has been empty for 30 or 40 years? Not every old building can be saved and used by a for profit entity. Many impressive rehabs are only possible because they are sponsored by an entity not interested in profit (gov agency, nonprofit, institution) or due to generous tax breaks, tax credits or some other subsidy. In the absence of substantial financial assistance (typically from some form of government) many buildings cannot be salvaged in a manner that would allow profitable re-use.

    • Clank

      My thought exactly…

  • coleman blanchard

    historical preservation in this city, and america as a whole, is a joke.

  • DanS

    This is awful. It would be nice if the previous owners (MM Partners and others) could let us know why this had to happen. Obviously, it seems like they couldn’t make the numbers works since they had the intention of fixing it up.

  • bem

    Not a church

  • Circa79

    City isn’t charged with issuing building permits based on aesthetics. Not sure why sorely intelligent people don’t get that
    Do you really want the parroting and development process to be that arbitrary?

  • Circa79

    Please. This city has amongst the oldest housing stock in the country. People who claim we are in danger of losing our traditional feel and look should visit areas other than point breeze and BT. In huge swaths of the city remaining housing stock was built before the Depression.

  • Circa79

    It sounds like you are equating “old” and historic. I don’t think they are synonymous.

  • Patrick Star