Wall Comes Tumbling Down at Naval Square

For those that have never heard of it, Naval Square sits on the western end of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, bookended by Grays Ferry Avenue to the east and Schuylkill Avenue to the west. The 20+ acre site has an amazing history, having once been an estate of the Pemberton family (they named a street after a Pemberton, you know). For a few years it was a Naval Hospital and then served as the first US Naval Academy for a decade in the middle of the 19th century. It's most famous for being the Philadelphia Naval Asylum, housing retired sailors until 1976.

The property sat vacant (and by the end blighted and burning) for almost thirty years until Toll Brothers undertook a lengthy and significant redevelopment into the Naval Square we know today. This included the renovation of historic buildings designed by William Strickland and the construction of countless new buildings all around the site, with a total of about 600 units. Some urbanists out there don't necessarily care for the fact that it's a gated community next to the city grid, but we take the approach that Philadelphia needs all kinds of housing and it's quite possible that some residents of Naval Square would live outside the city if not for this project.

All of this is a long means of introduction to the fact that Naval Square isn't quite as gated as it used to be. Last week, one of the walls surrounding the property on Bainbridge Street came tumbling to the ground. A couple of readers reached out to give us the heads up, and even sent photos.

Collapsed section of wall, image from a reader

Closer look, image from a reader

We got there over the weekend, and discovered that a chain link fence had arrived on the scene. The fence actually extends over a larger section of the wall, much of which has been spray painted to portend further construction in the near future.

Collapsed section is fenced in

Large section is fenced in, 'demo' is spray painted on the wall

We don't know what caused this wall collapse, nor are we certain whether the collapsed or soon to be demolished sections are original to the site. Does anyone in the neighborhood remember?