If you went to Drexel, it's possible you once lived or went to a party on the 3200 block of Winter Street. If you didn't, we'll forgive you if you've never set foot on this little block, whose eastern end is mere steps from those pesky railyards that separate this section of West Philly from the Schuylkill River. At that eastern end, at 3201 Winter St., sits a building that doesn't really seem to fit in with the rest of the buildings on the block. And we're not talking about an ugly new construction student housing building for a change.
All the homes on this block are twins that date back to the end of the 19th century, but sadly, 3203 Winter St. lacks a twin. Instead, it has a crappy looking, stucco-coated shed sitting next door. So… where did this thing come from?
First, we looked back to 2007 using the Google Time Machine function, and saw that the property has looked like this for at least a decade. On Phillyhistory, we couldn't find any historic images of the property, so there was no help there. Peering at some historic maps, it looks like there was once a twin home on this property, but it was gone by the 1940s. Looking at public record, we discovered that Drexel owns the property, having purchased it back in 2002. Before Drexel bought it, the previous owners listed the property for sale, and the old listing provided a helpful clue. According to that listing, there was a vacant auto shop on the property when it was listed, and we have to imagine that this is all that's left of that business.
We have to question though, what value Drexel is getting out of owning this property. If we owned a major university (someday!), we wouldn't have much interest in 1,500 sqft lots that abut private property, even if we did own the large triangular parcel across the street and had plans to develop the nearby rail yards. Drexel could get a pretty penny for this property, either from a student housing developer looking to build the sweetest off campus frat house in town or from someone looking to build a high-end home with an eye toward a sale. Is it possible that the university has forgotten that they own this little parcel? Or is this property the lynchpin to some mystery development plan that will change the neighborhood forever? Let the conspiracy theories begin.