Category: Preservation

Mural Arts: “Fear Not, It’s a Face Lift”

Photo: Mural Arts' Facebook page

The Mural Arts Program (MAP) knows how much people love the 1987 Keith Haring mural We the Youth at 22nd & Ellsworth. That’s why the city arts organization issued a reassuring heads up on its Facebook page before the beginning of a six- to eight-week restoration, during which there will be scaffolding and workers and other oft-suspicious signs of doom.

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Main Line Spotlight: Does Ardrossan Development Threaten Historic Sites?

Image via Midnight Cowgirl's Ginormous Movie List

Image via Midnight Cowgirl's Ginormous Movie List

On August 5, the Radnor Planning Commission had its first opportunity to hear about ES3 LP’s plans for the Ardrossan estate, the land immortalized in the play and film The Philadelphia Story. Edgar Scott III, the principal of ES3 and one of the heirs in control of the Montgomery-Scott-Wheeler family trust, was, at the time of the meeting, applying for a single density modification that would pave the way for him to develop the land.

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Morning Headlines: Remember That Shocking House Fire? No, Not THAT One. The Other One. It’s Being Cleaned Up

It is kind of sad when you live in a city whose headlines about house explosions and massive fires demand clarification, but so it is. We speak not, today, of the South Philly row home explosion, or even of MOVE (plumb those memories–it’s good for the synapses) but of the tragic house fire that gutted the historic Main Line mansion known as Bloomfield.

The fire took place in April of last year and the residents escaped without injury–which is more than can be said of the building itself, a grand Victorian built in the late 1880s and refashioned by Horace Trumbauer in the early 1920s.

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Philadelphia Hat Maker John B. Stetson’s Beautifully Lit Mansion for Sale

stetson mansion

Hat maker and educational namesake John B. Stetson lived in Philadelphia but, like so many who’d come after, wintered in Florida. Now the sale of his almost 10,000-square-foot mansion in DeLand in Volusia County (“the Athens of Florida”) has inspired the formation of a nonprofit group dedicated to keeping the mansion accessible to the public. That means the Stetson Mansion Foundation’s members will have to raise money to purchase the vast home before an individual owner–who might well want some privacy–does it first.

The mansion’s highlights? Nine bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and a wealth of historical artifacts. So far the Foundation has raised only a small portion of the $4.7 million asking price, but the property has been on the market in this multimillion-dollar price range since 2010, on and off, without success. And that’s despite the sparkles and the phenomenal interior.

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Morning Headlines: Zoning Board Says No to Ori Feibush

church of the assumption

Traces of the past on a wooden chair at the Church of the Assumption, now scheduled for demolition. Photo: Liz Spikol

Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.

At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.

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Bye Bye, Bakelite: Sixth Street’s Antiquarian’s Delight Is Closing!

antiquarians delight

Bakelite bangles. Tintypes. 1970s silk scarves. Books, furniture, jewelry, clothing, paintings, maps, figurines, games–used to be you could find anything and everything at the Antiquarian’s Delight on Sixth Street. But as Racked Philly puts it, “the store’s really taken a nosedive over the past year, attracting one-star Yelp reviewers who aren’t too happy about the shop’s $1 entrance fee.” Surely can’t help the vendors that it’s become so easy to score vintage finds on Etsy and ebay.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the building, which is owned by a generic ownership LLC headquartered at the Bella Vista Beer Distributors Inc. When we called Bella Vista to speak to the Antiquarian Delight building’s owner, we were told he’s currently in Greece. The owner is almost certainly a member of the Fetfatzes family, which owns Bella Vista Beer, Hawthorne’s, the Cambridge (aka Tritone’s) and the Bainbridge Street Barrel House.

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Afternoon Obsession: Europe’s Sexy Adaptive Reuse of the Middle Ages


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As a mixed-media enthusiast, from scrap art paintings to live-action and animated films, I appreciate creative symbiosis. In architecture and design, an amalgamation of old and new, or the right blending of styles, can create an aesthetically stimulating and functionally appealing space.

Such fusions work particularly well in Europe, where architects have access to structures dating back to the Middle Ages. Architizer highlights several renovation projects from Spain to Romania that transform 200- to 700-year-old palaces, barns and towers into residences, libraries or museums that acknowledge the past while welcoming the future. They’re also environmentally friendly.

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Armory’s Developer Not Known for Preservation, But the Building Has to Come Down

The Broad Street armory as seen a couple days ago.

The Broad Street armory as seen a couple days ago.

Michael Carosella, the developer who owns the dilapidated armory on the 1200 block of South Broad, is not exactly known for preservation work. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the latest news about the armory–first built in 1886 for the Third Regiment of the National Guard–is that it’s going to be demolished.

Initially, the armory was sold with a “no demo” stipulation. But that was vacated, and by the time Carosella bought it a few days ago, his plan to demolish the building had been opposed only by neighborhood residents who felt it should be protected due to historical value–and due to the Frank Sinatra mural on its side. But that doesn’t matter now. Due to the Market Street disaster, the city wants the armory, which is in terrible shape, to be torn down quickly to avoid any collapse.

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Gallery: Singing the Blues Amongst Dozens of Old Pianos on Allegheny Avenue

bronze foundry suitcase

Photo by Laura Kicey

Property photographer Laura Kicey went to a 20,000-square-foot dilapidated building last week and found herself in a strange world of seemingly unrelated objects, all of them in storage at an old bronze and brass foundry. Philly bluesman Shakey Lyman serenaded guests while shooters toured the space along with Mike Piersa from the National Museum of Industrial History. Philadelphia Salvage Company got in on the act too, offering beer and burgers at their new foundry site nearby.

The photos, this-a-way…

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Manayunk to Get a New Co-Working Space, Plus the Wild West in Wash West

transfer station

Photo of Manayunk's upcoming co-working space via Transfer Station's Facebook page.

• CBS 3 gets podcasty to talk about the new two-day First Friday in Old City [CBS3] • A Piece Of Wild West History In Historic Wash West [Hidden City] • Collingswood loves its parklet [philly.com] • Two brothers propose innovative co-working vision for old Manayunk building [Newsworks] • At Maplewood Mall block party, opinions [...]

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