Addition and a Restaurant Coming at 18th & Fairmount

We’ve always had an appreciation for the building at 1801-03 Fairmount Ave., with its curved facade at the corner and its metal cornice above the first floor. We wonder about the building’s history, whether there was ever more than just one story at the corner, and what kind of businesses operated here back in the day. Maybe a drug store? A diner? Maybe someone that lives in the neighborhood can help fill in the blanks. More recently, the building has housed an art gallery on the first floor, but that’s going to change rather soon.

View of the building

Looking at the building, you can see there are zoning notices posted, advertising some upcoming construction. Developers have the property under agreement, after it sat on the market for less than a week at a list price of $1.325M. According to the zoning notice, the new owners are looking to build an addition to the building, to a height that doesn’t exceed 55′. The renovated building will include a restaurant on the first floor and 10 apartments on the upper floors, assuming it gets approval from the ZBA. We suspect the building will maintain its curved corner, but we couldn’t tell you whether it’ll retain the metal cornice that makes it so fun. As for the restaurant that’s planned for the space, we’ve heard nothing at this point.

Mortgage Security Trust building

It’s also possible that the new owners of 1801 Fairmount Ave. don’t yet have a restaurant tenant in place, but have a desire to land a restaurant tenant once they get their approvals. With Bar Hygge across the street, the relocated RyBread down the block, and Tela’s Market immediately to the west, another dining establishment would certainly make sense at this location. The same could be said for the Mortgage Security Trust building across the street, which underwent a major renovation about a year ago. Those huge windows would look great in a dining room, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Robert Woodward

    So before I bought the building in 2001, it was a day care center with colorful Disney characters (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy) covering the entire brick facade on both streets. That was fastidiously cleaned up and off. The corner door was ratty plywood, as were the other two doors. I replaced all the doors with steel doors, the corner door framed in glass block to link in the art deco motif. The windows were covered in protective (ugly) steel cyclone mesh. When I removed them in 2008, sensing the hood had safened up a bit, school kids started randomly breaking all the original fluted windows, not to steal anything – just pure vandalism. Go figure. I expediently replaced those with “resin paintings”, with a “cheap” version of the Girard Street Subway commission/installation I had finished in 2011.
    Prior to the day care center, it was Newman’s Automotive, an automobile engine repair company. Historically, Girard/Broad Street was loaded with new car showrooms in the 30s and 40s, which morphed into used car showrooms in the 5os. Historic photos are embedded in the Girard Street Subway installation. Fairmount Avenue offered automotive parts and repairs for that industry. Newman’s was one such place. There was one at Fairmount and Shirley (soon to be a Japanese restaurant). One still exists at the NW corner of 16th and Fairmount.

    • bem

      Best wishes!