Every now and again a home on Elfreth’s Alley–the country’s oldest, continually inhabited street– becomes available. Without looking too far, a record number of three of these historic residences were put on the market earlier this year–all right before Independence Day, go figure. (Yeah ‘murca!)
Lately, another one of these American heirlooms was listed for sale. (Another one could be hitting the market soon, too. But more on that as Halloween moves closer…)
In this case, 130 Elfreth’s Alley, a red-shuttered dwelling built in 1741, is furnished with fireplaces showing off decorative mantles, wide-planked flooring made of pine wood, and a brick exterior with lintels, cornices and dormers. In the summer, the rear brick patio would be swell for meals since it’s connected to the eat-in kitchen.
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Last week’s real estate blue moon is turning out to have quite the pull! Two Elfreth’s Alley homes were serendipitously put on the market just in time for Independence Day, and now a third one has jumped on the bandwagon.
Unlike the first two, however, this piece of history is divided into two units, one of which occupies the first two floors and has access to the back garden. Both units have an open floor plan with two bedrooms, but the second unit has only one full bathroom.
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Property is available relatively rarely on America’s oldest continually inhabited residential street. Elfreth’s Alley hosts only 32 homes, and two of them being on the market simultaneously is the real estate equivalent of a blue moon.
First up: 133-35 Elfreth’s Alley. A double lot means 45 glorious feet of width to this three-bedroom home. It also means two decks, a side garden and a tremendous master suite. A finished basement includes a spa-like bathroom. Plenty of period details, including exposed stonework and brick. Our favorite room is the basement, with its romantic canopied ceiling, dreamy lighting and old fireplace.
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Good for you, Molly Phipps, of North Carolina’s Shelby Star. You may have chosen some of the expected — the Liberty Bell, Elfreth’s Alley, Ben Franklin, a cheesesteak — but you also chose a place that no one ever, never, ever puts on a list of things to do in Philadelphia, and especially in Old City:
“The fourth thing you can’t miss is a very special bookstore in Old City: Jules Goldman Books & Antiques on North 2nd Street. To say I love books would be a huge understatement, but this store had so much more. It had two floors, a whole section for art and a dusty room dedicated to old records. There was even a record set of the original airing of Orson Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds.’ If you’re a book lover, or just happen to be visiting Old City, I wouldn’t miss it.”
That is completely terrific. Here are some photos of what the store has…in store:
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It’s not too often that houses come up for sale or rent on Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the the nation. This three-bedroom 18th-century home is as enormous as Alley houses get, though its nickname is Half House because it’s so narrow. Prior owners apparently tired of the 18th-century footprint, as they built a two-story addition in 2007. The systems, thankfully, were modernized as well: The house has radiant, zoned heat and A/C.
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Generally speaking, when a home becomes available on the nation’s oldest continuously occupied residential street, it tends to be rather small–after all, think of how much more miniature people were back then. There’s no open space either, as the Alley’s homes are the ultimate primordial Philly rows. But today we’re obsessed and delighted by a listing for a house for sale on Elfreth’s Alley that has 6 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in 2,736 square feet. Not only that, but it has a yard, two staircases, 11 fireplaces (electricity was scarce in 1785), an attic and a basement. In other words, it’s a veritable mansion.
So what’s the catch? Well, the language of the listing gives it away: “Rare opportunity to restore a significant property on one of the most historic streets in the country!…Being sold in as is/where is condition.” That means it’s going to take a lot of work to get it into top condition, but if you’re handy with a hacksaw and have a hankering for history, it may be worth a half a million to own a piece of history.
116 Elfreths Aly, Philadelphia, PA 19106 [Zillow.com]