This photo shows the secret staircase to the fourth-floor hiding room. Photo by Sandy Smith.
Every 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.
The Society Hill Towers, built in 1964, are a love-’em-or-hate-’em affair: Though many are justifiably proud that the city has such a massive contribution from an architectural giant like I.M. Pei, others see the Towers as outdated and awkwardly located, and it’s not always an easy sell. But take creative minds like James Timberlake (of the architecture firm Kieren Timberlake) and interior designer Meg Rodgers, and the spaces in the building can be stunning.
This beautiful home on charming, historical Cypress Street has been entirely reconstructed to blend in with its traditional surroundings. But the Federal-style three-bedroom has a lively history, says developer Michael Tomasetti, who says the property has always been used as a rental.
“The home was built in 1806 and was a boarding house for people who survived yellow fever,” he says. “When my guys demoed the property, we found eight fireplaces in the home. Seems every room in the house was occupied by a different family. The home was connected to the other two on the east side of Cypress and between the three homes had 24 families occupying them.”
A recent report suggests that the number of first-time buyers is dwindling due to the number of people with student loan debt. But there are plenty of starter homes to be found in almost every part of town, including the ritzy ones.
There are very nice condos and co-ops that would be ideal for a single person or childless couple making their first investment. (They’re also good for suburbanites in search of an in-town pied-a-terre.) Sometimes such starters are found in the “downscale” part of a neighborhood, but when the neighborhood is Chestnut Hill, it’s not much of a hardship.
This four-bedroom, almost 4,000-square-foot house is an absolute beauty bordering an absolutely beautiful street–though St. Peters Way isn’t exactly a typical urban thoroughfare. Named for its connection to St. Peter’s Church, it’s more of a “pedestrian lane,” as Philly-based novelist Ken Kalfus referred to it in a New York Times article about Philadelphia streets.
PlanPhilly’s Ashley Hahn also called attention to it in a piece about Ed Bacon Greenways, which Bacon put in the Society Hill master plan to facilitate pedestrian travel between historic sites.
Photo: Drew Callaghan
This gorgeous 2,500-square-foot property in Society Hill started out with an asking price of $950,000, and for those shopping around in that price bracket, it seemed worth every penny. Now the asking price is down to $925,000, which makes it that much more affordable (again, for those shopping around in that price bracket).
The cobblestone walkway leading to the private garden seems as charming as the hardwood floors, and there’ll never be a problem with warmth: The home has seven fireplaces. (Is there a collective noun for fireplaces? In Philadelphia, there should be.)
You may have read by now that the Dow Chemical Company is putting its historic–yes, historic; it’s listed on the National Register–office building on Independence Mall up for sale once again.
Rohm and Haas built the building in 1965 as its headquarters, and the building designed by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. (now EwingCole) is considered a Modernist masterpiece.
In the grand tradition of other travelers who ride bikes with cats on their shoulders comes the “you must pay the rent” mustachioed fellow Rudi Elias and his feline friend Mary Jane (MJ for short), riding the streets of the Philadelphia. The cat looks a little dubious in one video upon hearing a siren (because of course there’s a siren), but seems otherwise content, even giving adorable face mushes throughout.
Below, our favorite of the videos, in which you can see Philly identifiably as well as MJ’s insistent affection.
This 1,750-square-foot deli/restaurant’s business has just been reduced in asking price from $175,000 to $145,000. But where is it? One commercial real estate website lists the address as 601 Walnut Street, but that’s the Curtis Center, so no. The broker’s website has the address as “9th and Walnut Area” and “in the Heart of Society Hill.” Also: “just a few blocks away from Washington Square.” As well as: “conveniently located in the heart of a residential area with tons of foot traffic to local wine and spirit store and supermarkets.” Hmm.
We called the agent, Nick Quinn, who represents the sale of the business, for clarification, but he declined to give the actual address. “We want to protect our client,” he said, very Bond-like.
Wherever the mystery restaurant is (and we won’t pry but maybe Starr or Garces should), we do know it has a license for takeout beer. “This could easily be converted into an amazing BYOB,” says the listing, which we imagine was penned by Quinn-Bond.
SPOTLIGHT LISTING: Society Hill townhouse for sale on a great block Located on one of the most charming blocks in Center City, this five-bedroom Society Hill townhouse is in a prime location. Across from Three Bears Park on a cobblestone street, it’s within walking distance of Headhouse Square and Old City attractions. The house itself [...]