Regent Terrace Apartments: Historic Senior Housing in the Middle of Southwest

It wasn’t even two weeks ago that we told you about a gorgeous but deteriorating church at the corner of 52nd & Chester, opining that the new owners of the property would likely tear it down. We visited this building thanks to a reader tip, so we zipped out to the property, took our photos, and made our way back toward the office. We neglected to look around too much, and that was a big mistake. Wouldn’t you know it, a couple days later, a different reader reached out to let us know about some possible construction activity at 1325-27 S. 52nd St., pretty much across the street. With that in mind, we went back out to Southwest Philly, to see what was going on.

Construction fence at 1325-27 S. 52nd St.

As we were making our way to this property, we were plotting out the beats of the story you’re reading right now. The general theme was going to be that student housing is continuing to push its way into Southwest Philadelphia, with this being perhaps the most far flung example to date. Sometimes when we plan a story before we visit a property though, things don’t pan out the way we expect, and that’s indeed the case with this one.

There is indeed a construction fence at the property, but as far as we can tell, there’s no active construction taking place. Instead, the owners of the property, who bought both sides of the twin last year, are working to correct violations on the property due to its structural issues. It’s quite possible that their eventual plan is renovation with an eye toward student housing, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening just yet. While we were over there, we did happen upon some rather interesting and unique architectural specimens, right across the street. Check out these buildings, will ya?

Lovely buildings across the street
Closer look at 1315 S. 52nd St.
Closer look at 1311 S. 52nd St.

It’s true, there are many awesome buildings in West Philadelphia and Southwest too, but these are pretty special. While the northern building has clearly gotten more work done than the southern building in recent years, the southern building looks like it’s held onto more of the original architectural details. As we were taking in these buildings though, something caught our eye around the corner, on Regent Street.

Looking down Regent Street
These buildings are crazy
Closer look

Yeah, we were not expecting to find buildings like these. In case you’re like us and had never known about these buildings, they’re collectively known as the Regent Terrace Apartments, a senior housing facility from Pennrose. But the buildings clearly weren’t constructed for this purpose. Doing a little digging, we were able to find out some more info.

It turns out, these buildings are all listed on the National Historic Register, and have been since 1985. They were originally constructed in 1910, developed by James Conner, designed by E. A. Wilson, and named Regent-Rennoc Court. By the mid-1980s, these buildings were in rough shape, but thanks to significant restoration efforts from Pennrose, we believe the buildings now look similar to how they were intended to look a century ago. If you look carefully at the buildings on Regent Street and look past the oversized porches on the upper levels, you’ll notice that the details on the buildings are very similar to those on the buildings on 52nd Street. That’s because the 52nd Street buildings were originally part of Regent-Rennoc Court, and are similarly listed on the National Register.

1325-27 S. 52nd St., the building that brought us here in the first place, was also originally included in Regent-Rennoc Court, but doesn’t look anything like its neighbors at this point. We suspect the three story building was altered beyond recognition somewhere along the line, losing its upper floor and almost all of its original details. Figure that if and when it gets renovated, the owner of the property isn’t too likely to restore any of those details. On the plus side, at least eight out of the original nine in Regent-Rennoc Court are still around and don’t seem like they’re going anywhere anytime soon.