Sometimes in Philadelphia, it seems the world has turned upside down. According to the Daily News, residents gathered outside the Mother Bethel AME Church at 6th & Lombard last night for a vigil, praying that Historical Commission would change its mind on a project it recently approved. The project in question is a four-story, six-unit building at the southwest corner of 6th & Addison which would, architecturally, not blend in with the surrounding historic neighborhood. We brought this corner to your attention a year and a half ago, when plans were for two new homes rather than apartments.
First, let’s just put it out there that it’s awesome that people are so passionate about architecture in their neighborhood that they would gather together to pray for divine intervention. Even the most agnostic among us would have to agree that this is pretty impressive. That being said, we don’t know that we necessarily agree with their perspective.
Last week, we shared plans for nine new town homes on the 2100 block of Walnut Street, which would also be located in a historic district. According to the minutes from the Historical Commission, the homes will be respectful of the surrounding architecture but won’t attempt to replicate it. We even praised this idea, noting that many new construction buildings that attempt to mimic historic structures end up looking goofy or chintzy, and then stick out from their surroundings for different reasons.
And not for nothing, but are the buildings that surround this proposal really all that historic-looking?
We’re not suggesting that we like or dislike the architecture of the proposed building. Nor would we deny that it would probably look more appropriate in Fishtown than it would in Society Hill. But it’s a fact that we live in a living, breathing city where things will change and new buildings will look different from old buildings, whether they’re in a historic district or not. And it seems that the Historical Commission agrees with us.
Now, whether the ZBA will agree with the developers that this proposal is appropriate, that is another story and a question for another day.