Possibly Historic Home Being Renovated in West Philly Next to Paul Robeson House

Mr. Fox

Walnut Hill is a West Philadelphia neighborhood we've covered some, but only to a limited extent. We have written about the 51-year-old Walnut Hill Community Association's (WHCA) transformation of city lots into community gardens  and University City District’s efforts to brighten the neighborhood, and today we'll tell you about renovations to a somewhat historic home in this neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, when we were out taking photographs of the old West Philadelphia High School, which could be reimagined as studio and loft apartments aimed at the academic bloc in the area, we noticed a three-story Victorian home being renovated two blocks west of the school at 4945 Walnut Street.  The home, the eastern side of a twin, is connected to a home with a boarded up first floor window.

The home with the chipping paint

The home under renovations was purchased earlier this year for $70K at sheriff's sale. Whether this was due to outstanding property taxes, a doors & windows violation, or some other liens, we're unsure, but it's clear that the new owners are committed to seeing the home rehabbed. We're unsure if the home will be put on the market when the work is finished, or offered as a rental.

Marker next door, image from Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Behind the Bylines

Next door the the twin in question is the Paul Robeson House, an initiative of the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance dedicated to Robeson’s memory.  The home, located at 4951 Walnut St., is located in one of three identical twin houses designed in 1907 and constructed four years later by nationally renowned Philadelphia architect E. Allen Wilson, according to the Roberson House site. Wilson also designed the John Coltrane House at 1511 N. 33rd St.

Looking east

Three-story homes line both sides of the 4900 block of Walnut. It's great to see proactive renovations of these old homes; here’s to hoping this momentum continues in the neighborhood.

--Lou Mancinelli