preservation

Should be rebuilt in the near future

A fire tore through 2122 Locust St. back in January, injuring two firefighters and leaving the residents of 21 apartments without a place to live. The 4-alarm fire was so intense that demolition was considered as the only option for the building. But the edifice has quite a bit of history, having been designed by Baker & Dallett and constructed in 1899. Originally known as the Charles F. Gummey House, the building also sits in the Rittenhouse Fitler Historic District and its demolition would have indeed been a bummer to most and a major blow to the preservation-minded among us.

View in the past

The City stepped in shortly after the fire, demanding that William Penn Realty, the owners of the property, retain the building's historic facade while demolishing its interior. That effort has been ongoing since the spring and we honestly can't be sure if the interior work is finished because the lower level windows are currently boarded up. The building permit was updated last month though, to indicate that the work was completed. So there's that. It should be noted, by the way, that they couldn't save the fourth floor, which suffered too much damage in the fire. Here's what the building looks like today:

Property offers an opportunity, but some challenges too

We always note 'For Sale' signs in our travels around town, but when such a sign is affixed to an attractive old building, it grabs our attention and doesn't let go. Recently, we saw a 'For Sale' sign at 1420-22 E. Susquehanna Ave., and we've been thinking about it ever since.

The building
Closer look

With just a quick glance, you can see that this structure was used for religious purposes. The listing provides greater detail. The building was constructed in 1924 as the Convent for the Holy Name of Jesus Church (so says the cornerstone too). And plenty of the original details, like stained glass windows, woodwork, tin ceilings, and the staircase, remain. It's a double-wide property that goes up to three stories in the rear, and has over 11K sqft of interior space. Also, it goes street-to-street, extending to Hewson Street with possible room for parking for a few cars in the back.

So what will happen to this property? It's hard to say. The list price is $595K, and they haven't found a buyer after two months on the market. At some point though, a buyer will step forward and it will be fascinating to see what they try to do.

Back in June, we told you that a demolition permit had been issued for the Engine 46 firehouse. A month later, we learned that the property owners had agreed to meet with Councilman Mark Squilla, and Pennsport neighbors. Additionally, we recently learned that neighbors are organizing in another way to preserve the endangered Flemish-style firehouse.

Earlier this week, we spotted a 'For Sale' sign on the newly rehabbed 2147 Ellsworth St., a property we originally brought to your attention last month, with concerns that its renovation was a threat to the mural on its party wall. To refresh your memory, this mural was originally painted by pop-art legend Keith Haring in 1987, as part of his CityKids Foundation program. Here's a look at the property in early February:

Stucco over parts of the mural

As it turns out, the front wall of the building was in imminent danger of collapse, and another couple of months of inaction may have resulted in the destruction of the entire building. Here's a look at the property from a couple of days ago:

Last month
The rest of the buildings

The former Poor Clare's monastery at Corinthian St. and Girard Ave. has been vacant since the nuns moved to the burbs in 1977 (perhaps in search of lower taxes and better schools?). The current owner, 2012 W. Girard Associates, purchased the buildings in 2005 and initially proposed converting the buildings into seventeen luxury condos. Regrettably, when credit tightened considerably a few years ago, that project became financially unfeasible, and earlier this summer, a new plan emerged to tear down the three buildings and replace them with 42 apartments and 16 parking spaces. The community did not care for this plan.

About two weeks ago, demolition began at the site, with several sources reporting that all three buildings would be torn down, despite the owner of the building not having gotten any zoning variances to this point.