The mansion at 1914-16 Rittenhouse Square St. sits in the southwest corner of Rittenhouse Square, objectively located in the most desirable spot in town. The main building was constructed in 1858 according to Hidden City, but Henry McIlhenny, the man for whom its commonly named, didn't move in until 1950. Amazingly, it's been vacant since his death in 1986. A buyer stepped forward in the late 1990s, getting Historical Commission approval to demolish the one-story section of the building to build a four-story addition, but neighborhood appeals held up the project, prompting the buyer to instead move to Delancey Street.

But when Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments came forward to purchase the property last year, we had little doubt that it would soon be occupied. Late last year, he got approvals from the Historical Commission for his plan to demolish the curved one-story facade at 1916 Rittenhouse Square and replace it with a four-story addition. He's also demolishing the four story home, but preserving the historic facade. As you can see, this is no small effort.

Steel is currently holding up the old facade

Recently, demolition efforts got underway. Once that careful work is through, an addition designed by Atrium Design will get built. The addition will match the historic building's height, but it will have a much more contemporary look. Check out this rendering:

Project rendering
It should be fascinating to watch this project move along in the coming months, and considering the foot traffic in this area it will have no shortage of onlookers. We're mostly just jazzed that one of Philadelphia's premier addresses will finally have an occupant after years of vacancy. It's such a shame that this home has sat empty and unenjoyed for so long.