When you live in an architectural wonderland like Northwest Philly, you can sometimes become a little resistant to the new and the different. We like our Wissahickon schist. We like our azaleas and our hostas lining the front walk. We don’t approve of houses that look like they belong in the suburbs.
Recently, I was driving down Lincoln Drive with a friend who grew up in Mt. Airy but now lives elsewhere.
“What’s THAT?” she said suddenly. “That’s just not okay.”
She was looking at two identical McMansions near the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Wayne Avenue, tall houses too big for their lots with boring beige stucco and stone that lacked the tell-tale Wissahickon schist sparkle.
I had a similar reaction to a house on the corner of Bryan and Durham, in a close-knit neighborhood known for the quality and variety of its Halloween decorations. It’s a neighborhood where kids play in the streets and everybody lives in almost identical row houses and twins with deep porches and sparkling stone walls. The new house looks like something from a soul-crushing suburban development, and the owners haven’t bothered to plant anything in the huge sunny side yard. The most notable feature of the house is a No Parking sign on the front of it.
So I was relieved when I looked at the listing for a new house being built on one of my favorite streets in Mt. Airy–St. Georges Road. It’s one of two planned homes by Blake Development.
From the looks of the plans, the house suffers a little from a common East Coast malady, multiple siding disorder, where the vertical exterior surfaces have a little too much variety. They’re stone, no they’re stucco, no they’re wood-like planks made out of concrete. But overall the house holds true to the character of the neighborhood. I’m encouraged by the interior shots of the developer’s other projects. The rounded door under the stairs is very Mt. Airy, and the kitchens
are good quality but not overly fancy. They’ve also won a bunch of awards for historic restoration.
The house has a delivery date of October, and the asking price is $1,595,000.