Washington Square West

Long national nightmare coming to an end

When we checked in on repairs to the wooden Camac Street the other day, we noticed that 1222 Locust St., the former Lincoln Apartments building, is under heavy construction. It's been over a year since our last visit to this property, at visit that was spurred by a construction fence appearing in front of the building. This was very exciting since we first heard about redevelopment plans in 2011 and the building had been sitting vacant and blighted since being devastated by a fire in 2006.

You can see, the inside of the building has been completely gutted and all the windows have been removed. It appears that some framing has happened inside, suggesting progress toward the apartments that will eventually fill the building. On a somewhat frustrating note, Camac Street is blocked off due to the construction.

Somehow these repavings are becoming more frequent

With all its history, the streets of Philadelphia are literally a treasure trove of hidden instances of awesome. And you can count the historical 200 block of S. Camac St. as one of those awesome treasures. Years ago, we told you about this block, which is the only one in Philadelphia with a surface of wooden pavers. To jog your memory, this was actually a pretty common road surface for a minute back in the early 1900s. On the plus side, it muted the sound of clopping horse hooves. On the other side of the ledger, it absorbed horse pee and intensified the smells of summer. It seems the negatives outweighed the positives and it quickly fell out of favor.

Like a Frank Furness building, this block of Camac Street transports us to a different era. And it looks really cool while doing it, too. But it seems that the wooden Camac Street requires just as much attention as a regular city street, if not more. It's currently in the process of getting repaved, which is at the very least an interesting sight to see.

Or... not?

Recently, we heard from a reader, wondering about the former church at the corner of 12th & Lombard. They noticed that the planters have disappeared and there's a lockbox on the door.

Former church
View from another angle

The building was previously home to the Saint Peter Claver Center for Evangelization until the Archdiocese shut it down late last year. The building actually has some interesting history, as it was originally home to the Saint Peter Claver Parish Church. According to the historical marker in front of the building, the church was dedicated in 1892 and named for a saint who fought the slave trade. More importantly, it was the first Catholic church in the city for African Americans.

We hear Toll Brothers is thinking condos

The Society Hill Playhouse has been an important piece of the Philadelphia theatre scene since it was established way back in 1960. But earlier today, we learned that this institution may soon show its final performance and new condo buildings will take its place.

Society Hill Playhouse

This morning, a reader emailed us with some second hand information that we're hoping somebody out there is able to verify/expound upon. Apparently, Toll Brothers will be appearing before the Washington Square West Civic Association later this month to present a plan to build two condo buildings on either side of 8th Street between Lombard and South. These five-story buildings will contain condos, and would ostensibly replace the two-story parking garage on the west side of the street, the surface parking lot on the east side of the street, and the building that currently contains the playhouse. The building dates back to the early 1900s but we don't believe it's certified historic.

It's not a sure thing yet

Back in 2011, when the Southstar Lofts project was still just a twinkle in Carl Dranoff's eye, we brought 1323-25 South St. to your attention, lamenting its blighted condition. At the time, we gave you all the details on the property, which has been owned by a gentleman named Donald Turner since 1997. The building has a 2,240 sqft footprint and probably has an interesting history, but we can't find anything about it. Sadly, today it looks pretty much the way it did when we first told you about it more than three years ago.

It's been vacant for quite some time

But just when we thought the building would never get redeveloped, it seems that it could finally return to active use. Last month, signs appeared on the building announcing a presentation at a Washington Square West Civic Association zoning meeting.