It seems L&I has been busy lately in Francisville. We’ve seen hot pink L&I notices posted on several vacant beat-up properties in the past few weeks, but none more than in this up and coming neighborhood.

This time we spotted one on the front door of 1818 W. Girard Avenue. Posted October 10th, it demands that the owner secure 11 windows within five days. As it were, this location is directly around the corner from a 10-home Ginnodo Street project and up the street from a slew of other new Francisville projects. It’s also right around the way from a couple of blighted buildings we’ve covered in recent weeks.

The property

This three-story property is historically designated. The building was acquired in 2010 for $95K, according to public record. This strip of Girard Avenue was once a busy prominent thoroughfare. These ten row homes on the south side of the block between 18th St. and Ridge Avenue were designed by well-known Philadelphia architect Willis G. Hale, known for his ornate stylings. The streetcar, among other things, made the area attractive to the nouveau riche in the 1890s.

Looking west

Now, it’s nouveau blighted. This block of Girard Avenue is a microcosm of Philadelphia history. It contains glorious mansions built during the Gilded Age, which were then left behind during urban flight, ultimately transformed into housing for the working class and then left abandoned in recent decades.

Ostensibly in better condition in 1968. Image from

Years later, this block has become the object of revitalization, expressed by the interest of a new generation in the buildings constructed by generations past. 1820 W. Girard Ave., for example, has been fully rehabbed into three high end apartment units while the still-blighted property next door has continued to languish. Ah, the poetry of blight. Where it will speak next? And what will become of this block, the 1800 block of W. Girard, a handsomely designed once prominent stretch standing in the middle of the growth in Francisville, Brewerytown, and the rising development on North Broad Street? We’ll be watching.

–Lou Mancinelli