Over the years, several readers have asked us about the northwest corner of E. Moyamensing & Washington. If you've ever passed by this corner, perhaps you too have wondered about the odd, windowless building that stands about thirty feet tall and looks like a miniature version of the tower from which Rapunzel let down her hair. It may interest you to know that a church once stood here.
In the 1960s. Please ignore the finger in the frame
The M.E. Mariner's Bethel church was built in 1873. It was one of two churches in the neighborhood that was specifically for seamen, a group that was extremely well represented in this neighborhood in the late 1800s. As work along the river dried up, so to speak, the church pictured above persisted as the only mariner's church for several decades until it was demolished, we think in the late 1960s.
It was almost exactly one year ago that an electrical fire struck Jack B. Fabrics at 748 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. The fire took the life of a fire Captain and resulted in the demolition of the building that was home to the store for many years. It also led directly to the relocation of several nearby businesses, whose storefronts were so damaged that continued operations became impossible.
Before the fire
A few days after
We went to Essene over the weekend, and passed by this corner afterward. What we saw was quite surprising.
We last checked in on 718-24 S. 2nd St. about three years ago. At the time, the three buildings stuck out on this historic block like a sore thumb. They looked like somebody had built some new homes out of cinderblocks, blocked the window openings, left to buy a pack of cigarettes or something, and never came back. And if you look at them today, you would be inclined to believe that nothing has changed.
View on 2nd Street
Over a year ago, a new developer purchased the properties pictured above at sheriff's sale, leading us to believe that work would soon begin again. New permits have been posted, as have new Stop Work Orders. Neighbors who have been living with this situation for many years are surely wondering whether the project to build nine condos with eight parking spaces will ever come to fruition. And in the meantime, the Monroe Street section of this development seems to be rotting away.
Almost exactly a year ago, we told you that a one-story garage on the 500 block of Carpenter Street was being purchased. At the time, we suspected that two homes would replace it. Passing by the other day, we discovered that the garage has been demolished and new foundations are going in. Looking at the L&I Map, we discovered that our previous suspicions were off-base. Just one home will be coming here.
In the past
Construction at the site
The new home, when it's built, will be three-stories high with a roof deck. It will be wider than most, at nearly 26'. But since it's being built on shallow lots and the builders didn't go to zoning for open area, a shallower-than-usual home will balance the extra width and lead to a home with a standard amount of square-footage. Oh, and there's gonna be a parking space.
When we looked at this property a year ago, we also told you that this block had seen a large number of new homes go up in recent years. The 500 block of Carpenter Street got at least a dozen new homes, some of which are owner occupied with others serving as rentals. We didn't notice, back then, that the 1000 block of S. Fairhill St., which runs between Carpenter and Washington, had also gotten several new homes of late.
The building which previously stood here had wrought iron balconies, french doors, original leaded glass, mahogany flooring, and a stone fireplace, according to an old listing. In 2007 it went to sheriff's sale, and it was snatched off the market as a bank-owned property in 2008 after about a week. And since then, it's pretty much sat. There were stop-work-orders on the building, suggesting aborted renovation efforts, but the place has certainly been sitting empty for several years. Public record reflects the same owners since 2008, but perhaps the new work on the site suggests new ownership.