A shoe store at 4002 Lancaster Ave. is being replaced by a take-out restaurant, according to a zoning application from a couple of months ago.

In the past

A few weeks back

We don’t have information on what’s going into this space, but we were struck by the gorgeous building just a couple of doors away. The West Philadelphia Title and Trust Company was built in 1897 and designed by Walter Smedley, according to the Preservation Alliance. While numerous impressive and attractive details remain, the building has not been designated historic. Whether the unfortunate signage from businesses that have taken up residence in the grand structure has anything to do with that, we do not know.

Thanks also to the Preservation Alliance, we discovered that the building was, until very recently, far more compromised by terrible signage. The building only looks as good as it does now thanks to the efforts of the People’s Emergency Center. The first two images below come from Field Notes from the Preservation Alliance.

From 2008

Cleaned up dramatically, from 2010

What a handsome building. Is the awning really necessary?

This building is a reminder of the potential of Lancaster Ave. While LOOK! on Lancaster did a fine job highlighting the street and temporarily covering up some of its vacant commercial spaces, lots of dollars will eventually be needed to redevelop this stretch, which includes many attractive buildings that are older and poorly maintained. Without that investment, we fear that many of these older buildings will eventually deteriorate past the point that restoration will be an option.

Hawthorne Hall, another gem just a couple of blocks away