Tag: historical property

Very Lofty: Industrial Bi-level Condo in Old City


This is just a charmer, no doubt about it, and so iconically Old City. Little Quarry Street isn’t even a street, really — just a block of perfectly preserved cobblestones in a unique design. The entry to the red brick building inside which this hidden condo awaits is as understated as can be, so it’s surprising to go from the narrow confines of what’s essentially an alleyway to a rather spacious shared courtyard with a grill and plenty of green.

As for the apartment itself, its spiral staircase — though of a metal and wood design that typically embodies mediocrity and sameness — doesn’t look half bad here because of the overall semi-industrial design. The white painted brick, exposed ductwork and exposed beams are all a perk for a buyer who likes the industrial look, and the hardwood floors look like antique random-width oak even where they’re not.

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Now on the Market: A Flag Stop on the Underground Railroad

This photo shows the secret staircase to the fourth-floor hiding room. Photo by Sandy Smith.

This photo shows the secret staircase to the fourth-floor hiding room. Photo by Sandy Smith.

lee904f44-w0xEvery structure has a story behind it, no matter how humble. But some have more fascinating stories than others. We found one with a great story on the market in Society Hill.

415 Pine Street is a handsome four-story Colonial directly across from Old Pine Street Church (the church is seen through the house’s window, at left). There’s a reason why.

The house was built in 1795 by James Moyes and his wife Mary Tatum Moyes, who purchased the lot in 1787. James, who owned several buildings on the next block, was a sailmaker and ropemaker for the American forces during the Revolution. The Moyses were Quakers and ardent foes of slavery, which is why they bought the lot across from Old Pine: In addition to building a house for themselves, they used it to stash slaves fleeing to freedom.

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This Week: Secret Cinema at Freeman’s | South Philly Garden Tour | OCF Block Party

secret-cinemaThere are three events this week that dovetail nicely with Property interests, and we want you to have plenty of time to make plans.

Secret Cinema: From Philadelphia With Love
Fri., Sept. 6, 8pm. $9. Freeman’s Auction House, 1808 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
“‘From Philadelphia With Love’ showcases rare 16mm prints from the Secret Cinema archive about different aspects of life in the Philadelphia region. Some were made as sponsored films promoting goods or institutions, and some are educational or documentary in nature. All are virtually impossible to see elsewhere.”

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Morning Headlines: Like Center City, the Main Line Is Exploding With Rentals

old photo chestnut street

Detail of a daguerreotype photograph "No. 46 to No. 52, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania" 1843. Image courtesy Library of Congress via The Atlantic Cities.

The question, put somewhat Shakespearean-ly: From whence will come these eager hoards of renters, these express and admirable souls who in apprehension look not upon home ownership as an investment, a money-saver, a sound notion uttered in mellifluous cadence by parents burdened by great concern for the future? From whence do they derive, either in Center City or on the Main Line? Because, like, there are a lot, lot, lot of new apartments going up and a not unwarranted skepticism about who will live in them.

In plain language from the Inquirer’s ever sensible Joseph N. DiStefano: “Who’s going to live in all those new Main Line apartments?” He then enumerates the various projects that are going up, and it’s not unlike the situation in Center City, where each project may have merit and each developer feels confident, but when put all together, does the sum total of development make sense for the numbers in the future? We shall see.

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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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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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A River Runs Through It: Newly Listed $1M Wayne Property Traversed By Creek and Waterfall

wayne real estate

The listing calls this property magical, and to all appearances, for those who like it lush and green, that’s no overblown listings poetry. The entry path is surrounded by trees and the house itself is hidden by bushes. The land also has a manicured lawn, but best of all Julip Run Creek traverses the land, including the little waterfall pictured here. Imagine listening to the sound of that water after a stressful day (and perhaps after the commuter traffic); a balm to the senses, for sure.

For a quiet afternoon of reading, there’s a flagstone terrace and a deck off the master suite. And for evenings with guests, a pebble terrace with a fire pit will give kids special evenings of marshmallow toasting. The children’s rooms, by the way, are particularly lovely, so the house is well suited to family life.

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House of the Week: Perfectly Situated, Beautiful Stone Manor in Yardley

house for sale yardley

What a treasure this is. Lanrick Manor, built around 1704, has beautiful period details throughout its 3,800 square feet, including antique hardware, random-width hardwood floors and five fireplaces, including a walk-in. The front door is original and there are built-ins in the dining room and library. There’s a sunroom that, on sunny days, may compensate for the fact that the third-floor walk-up doesn’t yet have heat–let’s call it a handyman’s challenge.

In addition to the main house, there’s a bank barn with a studio that has heat and air conditioning. The land itself is lovely, and is close–but not too close–to the river. In fact, there’s a highway in between, which some may think of as unattractive, but Yardley homes for sale on River Road can be a risky proposition when heavy rains come. That highway probably keeps this house just far enough away to play it safe.

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Whatever Happened to…the Vulcanite Paving Company at 17th and Market?

Check out this beauty from a time when even a small-time office building was something to design the crap out of. The Vulcanite Building, besides having one of the coolest building names ever, was a masterpiece of commercial design that only stood for 34 years and came to an unceremonious end to make room for a project that never happened.

Doctor Ludwig Sprang Filbert was the child of two of Berks County’s original families. Working himself up from nothing, this genius became so singularly known in the medical field that people just referred to him as “The Doctor.” In 1870, at 55, The Doctor said, “Screw this” and gave up medicine to start the Vulcanite Paving Company out of his rowhouse at 1902 Green Street.

The Doctor had some kind of futuristic knowledge about asphalt. He invented his own patented mixture, Filbert’s Vulcanized Compressed Asphaltum, and made an exclusive deal to become the only paver in the region who imported Trinidad Asphalt, which had only started being mined from the Trinidad Pitch Lake a few years earlier. Almost immediately, the Vulcanite Paving Company was covering roadways, driveways, sidewalks, basements, backyards, slaughterhouse floors, roofs and everywhere else that needed waterproofing. More →