Queen Village

But those bays!

Last year, a fire ravaged Jack B. Fabrics at 748 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. When we last visited the property in April, a new building was being framed out, replacing the demolished structure. When we passed by the other day, the exterior looked nearly complete.

Before the fire
Current view

Once it's finished, the new building will have four apartments and a commercial space downstairs. In many ways, especially with the bays moving down Fitzwater Street, it seeks to imitate the building it replaces. But we have to wonder, was the architect dreaming of the shore when they designed the color scheme/material combo for those bays?

What do you think? Do you like the new building?

Building goes back hundreds of years

A couple years ago, we told you about the Spafford House at Front & Bainbridge in Queen Village, noting that it was vacant and available for sale. The building was constructed in 1762 according to QVNA, and was originally home to William Spafford, who made his living as a sea captain and slave trader. Shortly after Spafford's death in 1768, the home was auctioned off by the sheriff. And in a neat case of historical symmetry, the property went to sheriff's sale again in 1992 and once more in 2011. Most recently, it was home to Tori's Brickhouse, a restaurant that cleared out back in 2006.

Current view

In 2012, the building was on the market for $425K though it sold for a more reasonable $300K earlier this summer. A year ago, the previous owners took the property to the ZBA and got approvals to convert it from a restaurant use back to a single family home. This came after what we believe was an aborted effort two years ago to demolish the rear garages and build a new four story structure.

Now it's condos

And now for another edition in our long and continuing series about places Philadelphians have been buried.  There are so many of course, but what makes this one interesting is that you could be living on top of it.  The south side of Christian Street between 5th and 6th Streets is completely residential today, a fact which conceals its historical fluctuation.  For our purposes, the story begins in roughly 1831 when, according to Philly.com, one Francis Brown gifted the land to the Mt. Zion Christian Church for use as a burial ground.  G.M. Hopkins’ Philadelphia Atlas shows the Grave Yard circa 1875.

And the guy next door wants out

For many years, you could find an L-shaped surface parking lot at 512-14 S. Front St., just around the corner from South Street's hullabaloo. Back in the winter of 2013, we attended a QVNA meeting where developers presented plans to redevelop the lot, and the community group offered their support. Checking back in on the site a year and a half later, we discovered a project that's all finished.

New condo buildings
Building on Naudain St.

As we told you previously, two buildings on Front Street contain six condo units, and an additional four units can be found in a building on Naudain Street. All but one of the units have sold, with a three bedroom unit on Front Street still available for $679,500. Architecturally, we appreciate that the buildings on Front Street and the Naudain Street structure look decidedly different from each other. Not that this is so groundbreaking, but it's nice to see a little variety in the same project.

From church to school to popular garden

The plot of land on the north side of Christian between 3rd and 4th Streets has been dramatically repurposed over the course of recorded history.  The site’s first known use was as the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church.  According to Handworn, the Ebenezer Church was originally built on 2nd Street, just north of Queen, in 1790.

However, the congregation quickly outgrew its modest space.  Ebenezer had originally purchased the lot between 3rd and 4th Streets in 1810 to serve as a burial ground.  However, by 1819, the church relocated here as well.  The image below, taken from Samuel L. Smedley’s 1862 Philadelphia Atlas, shows that the church stretched north from Christian to Queen Street.

The Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, 1862

A book entitled History of Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church of Southwark, Philadelphia notes that while the congregation’s history is a bit convoluted, we can see that the building was either upgraded or completely replaced by a more modern church hall in 1852.  The 1890 text also provides us with a sketch of the building at the time. 

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