The Tulpehocken Station Historic District in Germantown is only about six square blocks, but it is bursting with architectural gems like this Gothic Victorian better known as the Joseph Mitchell House.
From the exterior, which boasts lovely stonework, gingerbread trim and bracketing and Queen Anne mullioned windows, it is easy to tell how the district was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. On the interior, the drama of this home begins at the cathedral-esque doorway and builds through each of the five bedrooms to a crescendo in marbled baths. The lovely grounds and garden make for a nice denoument.
A screen shot from the New York Times' sumptuous slideshow by Bruce Buck of a Germantown home renovation.
Property contributor Virginia C. McGuire wrote about a truly exquisite Germantown Victorian that Nicole Juday and her husband watched slide into disrepair from their house across the street. When they finally decided to buy it–more to save the neighborhood than the house, Juday told McGuire–it was one of those classic 19th-century Philly deals: seven bedrooms for $125,000. But the couple had to work for it: The renovations and fixes were endless (“I think the house was possibly condemnable,” said Juday) and she did a lot of salvage work with the furniture and structural elements like a chimney.
Photo by Tristen.Pelton via Flicker.
You may remember that I was inadvertently running a wildlife park in my Germantown home earlier this year. At the time, I was still holding out hope that the first wildlife company I hired would manage to trap the raccoons living in the walls of my house. I wanted it to work out, because the dude they sent was so sweet, and because they were cheaper than any of the other companies I found. But after several attempts to trap the raccoons, the company basically shrugged and walked away.
I talked to the owner of the attached twin again. We agreed that his handyman would come out at night, when the raccoons were marauding somewhere outside the house, and close up the chimney we thought the raccoons were using to enter the house. But the handyman understandably kept postponing a project that would require him to climb out on the roof late at night. The tenants in the house next door weren’t complaining about nocturnal noises, so the landlord wasn’t very motivated to follow up. And since we were still hearing the animals at all hours of the night over on our side of the party wall, we were pretty sure the babies weren’t leaving the den yet. Closing up the chimney while the mother was outside might not be a good idea. We had a horror of accidentally shutting the babies up in the walls of our house.
Then it got worse.
Photo: Virginia C. McGuire
Chickens are illegal in Philadelphia on parcels of land smaller than three acres. But as Philly Mag reported back in 2010, an urban chicken movement is gaining momentum in Philadelphia. It’s very possible that some of your neighbors are keeping a few discreet laying hens in the back yard. We spoke with a chicken owner in Germantown about her flock.
Meghan lives in West Germantown with her husband, two kids, a salt water fish tank, and a black labrador. She also has seven chickens living in a coop in her front yard.
Photo: Bradley Maule
In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:
“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”
But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.
We expect this single-family brick Victorian in West Germantown to get snapped up quickly. It’s got off-street parking, an enormous back yard, and a ton of original detail. The living room fireplace is made of slate, and the house is a reasonable four bedrooms and two baths. There’s a wrap-around porch in front, and a shady patio in the back. We’d like to commend the listing agent on her smart use of photographs. If we had a spare $350,000, we’d buy this house just based on the close-up shot of the hardware on these original pocket doors.
The location, too, is kind of dreamy. It’s half a block from Cloverly Park in a neighborhood full of creative professionals, avid gardeners and young families. There are two community gardens within a few blocks of this house, and it’s close to Manayunk, East Falls, and Mt. Airy. There are two regional rail stops close by–Queen Lane and Chelten, and plenty of bus routes.
Photo: Laura Kicey
Matthew Christopher is a photographer of decrepit, abandoned places who shares his technical expertise with other photographers in weekend workshops. The Abandoned America series took Property’s Laura Kicey to the SS United States and more recently to Germantown’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Built in the 1870s and designed by Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt, the church closed in 2005 and will soon undergo renovation to become a school, so this venture was the last chance to photograph it in its in-between state. How photographers love decrepitude! And how Philadelphians love to look at it as evidence of our own present and past. But enough philosophizing (level 101): Check out Laura’s beautiful (as always) photographs.
Photo of raccoon by via Wikimedia Commons
We first started hearing animals in the walls shortly after we bought our 1920s twin in Germantown in 2009. No problem, we thought. The inspection before we bought it had revealed holes in the soffits, which run around the edge of the roof underneath the rain gutters. We called a roofer and had them fixed.
That took care of the animal sounds for a while, but soon they started up again. Twice more we called the roofer. Twice more he came out, put up his ladder and banged around up there, closing gaps in the siding. We hired someone to trim our trees aggressively so squirrels can’t easily jump onto the roof of the house. And still the animals kept coming back.
Photo of lettuce by Virginia C. McGuire
It’s only the fourth season for this community garden in Germantown, and already 51 plots have been hacked out of the asphalt of a row of old tennis courts adjacent to Cloverly Park. The courts were once used by students at Germantown Friends School, and the land is held in trust for the school and Germantown Monthly Meeting, a Quaker group.
Catherine Adams co-chairs the committee that runs the garden. She has been involved in the garden from the beginning. “I became involved in the garden as soon as I heard of the project without any hesitation,” she said. She has hauled buckets of water, tended plants, and screened chunks of asphalt out of the soil. Adams lives two blocks from the garden in a former industrial building with almost no outdoor space, so she’s glad to have a place to grow vegetables.