Former Please Touch Museum Will Be Demolished

When we last visited the corner of 21st & Race a little less than a year ago, developers were just getting started on the second quartet of homes making up the Eight on Race development. That project entailed the demolition of a former School District building (which we don't regret) and its replacement with eight new homes, as the name indicates. Today, we see there's been significant progress on the second phase of homes, though we'd have thought they'd be even further along by now.

Looking west on Race Street

Immediately to the north of this project, as you're probably aware, is a wonderful building which was home to the Please Touch Museum for many years before its move to Memorial Hall. Originally a carpet factory, the attractive building at 208-12 N. 21st St. has housed a gallery for the last few years.

Former Please Touch Museum just to the north of the intersection

Closer look at the building

At the same time that we provided the update about the Eight on Race project, we also passed along word that Toll Brothers had been meeting with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, discussing a plan to demolish the former Please Touch Museum and replace it with a 35-unit condo building with underground parking. The community didn't care for the project, and we wondered whether Toll Brothers would persist with their plan, alter their project, or move along to something else. At this point, we're not exactly sure what happened but we are sure of this: the building will soon be demolished.

Demo notice

A reader reached out over the weekend, giving us a heads up that a demo notice had appeared on the front of the building. We were confused about this because we thought that the building was on the Historic Register but upon further review it's not on the list. In place of the building, developers are planning eight new homes with parking. The ZBA approved the project back in December, so this thing is happening. We aren't sure who's behind the development- it could still be Toll Brothers but single-family home construction hasn't typically been their M.O. in Philadelphia. Perhaps a different developer has come forward to buy the property and build new homes; considering the fact that several such projects in the area have seen sale prices in excess of $1.5M, many developers would be interested.

Philadelphia has so many buildings like this one- not listed as historic but still an important part of the streetscape. Unfortunately, we will continue to lose them until we can think of a creative way to better incentivize adaptive reuse. Does anyone have any recommendations?