Sold: Germantown’s Grand Joseph Mitchell House

The Joseph Mitchell House, located in Germantown’s Tulpehocken Station Historic District, has sold for $525,000 a few months after its owners relisted the property. The house was built around 1856, and is often attributed to the architect Samuel Sloan. It’s got a crenelated tower, a slate roof, Queen Anne windows, and very cute trim. And it’s just two blocks from SEPTA’s Tulpehocken regional rail station.

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Morning Headlines: Demolition of Queen Lane Apartments Coming Soon-ish

queen lane apartments

It’s been almost two years since the Philadelphia Housing Authority announced plans to demolish the long-vacant Queen Lane Apartments in West Philadelphia, and to replace it with a 55-unit development. What’s another few months?

As it is, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can finally give PHA the go-ahead.  The project had been put on pause following the discovery of a historic burial ground in the building’s backyard. The cemetery’s borders have since been asserted, and future construction will not disturb it.

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Are the Union Protests at the Trolley Car Diner Legal?


Yesterday we wrote about IBEW Local 98, the electricians’ union, protesting in front of developer Ken Weinstein’s Trolley Car Diner — where, Weinstein alleges, flyers with his photograph and cell phone number were distributed. That may be bad form, and an invasion of privacy, but it’s run-of-the-mill kind of stuff from Philly unions. As far as we know, distributing the phone number is not illegal.

But the protests themselves are more open to question. Weinstein is the developer of a preservation/restoration project at 6000 Wayne Avenue, which — just to be clear — is not the address of the Trolley Car Diner. The building at that location, like many that Weinstein develops, is vacant but historical, with a Frank Furness pedigree. Weinstein is planning to turn that building into a school, and he has hired a general contractor from the area, McCoubrey/Overholser, to do the construction and to hire subcontractors to do specialized work, like the electrical.

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Union Protests At Trolley Car Diner Because They Are Angry About Something Different Than Trolley Car Diner

detail of st pete's

Detail of the church in question. Original photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia.

Real estate developer and Trolley Car Diner owner Ken Weinstein sent out an email to many, many people (from Pete Hoskins to Terry Gillen) to alert them to a…disagreement he’s having with the IBEW over his construction of a Waldorf School campus on Wayne Avenue in Germantown. Weinstein says the diner has been subject to union protests outside.

The president of Weinstein Properties and Philly Office Retail, Weinstein isn’t a newbie to development; he’s been in the business for 24 years, and currently owns and manages 500,000-plus square feet of commercial space. Additionally, Weinstein has been something of an eatery investor, founding (and selling) the Cresheim Cottage Cafe, and buying up the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy and Trolley Car Cafe in East Falls — the two neighborhoods, along with Germantown, into which he puts most of his energies.

Before we look at the union battle, let’s assess Weinstein’s latest project: the conversion of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church — designed by Frank Furness and George Hewitt — on the 6000 block of Wayne Avenue.

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Greener Home for Wissahickon Charter

Photo of sign at construction site by Sandy Smith.

Photo of sign at construction site by Sandy Smith.

The Wissahickon Charter School in the northwest part of the city says its mission is “to provide a community of learning with an environmental focus that stimulates the child’s intellectual, social, and character development.”

The school’s founders planned to use the Wissahickon Valley as an extension of its classrooms but were stymied in their search for a suitable site near the park. Since its opening in 2002, it has operated out of space in the former Atwater Kent radio factory at 4700 Wissahickon Avenue in Germantown’s southwest corner, hard by the Roosevelt Expressway.

Ground broke last fall on a new home for the school that will finally provide it the access to nature it has long sought.

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Historic, Abandoned Frank Miles Day Mansion Is Begging for a Flip


Address on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places? Check. Revered architect known for contributing iconic buildings to half of the Ivy League? Check. Gorgeous Renaissance Revival architecture featuring 10 bedrooms and more than 7,000 square feet of living space? Check. Walls, flooring, plumbing … well, sort of. Realtors do like to say it’s the bones of a place that really matter.

First, the history. The home was designed by local architect Frank Miles Day in 1892 for Harry K. Cummings, major grain and feed dealer of his day. Day is known throughout the design world for the work he produced from his eponymous architecture firm, which extended beyond residences to college and commercial architecture. He is beloved regionally for designing the Philadelphia Art Alliance as well as the dearly departed Art Club of Philadelphia. His contributions to Penn include Houston Hall, the Penn Museum, the second iteration of Franklin Field, the Fieldhouse and Ben Franklin’s pedestal at College Hall. He also designed buildings for Princeton, Yale and Cornell as well as Penn State and the University of Delaware. Day was a lecturer at Penn, Harvard and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. So: pretty solid credentials.

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La Salle Gets in on the University Building Boom

la salle business school rendering

La Salle business school rendering, via

As if Temple, Drexel and Penn weren’t busy enough, La Salle University has now announced its own big, new building: a 78,000-square-foot business school at Chew and Wister on its Germantown campus. The Inquirer calls the $35 million project La Salle’s contender “in what has become an arms race for the newest and best on Philadelphia campuses.”

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In the Round: Hazelhurst & Huckel’s West Price Street Curves

germantown historic home

West Price Street home designed by Hazelhurst and Huckel in 1890. Photo: Laura Kicey.

According to the American Architects and Buildings database, the architects of this home, Edward P. Hazlehurst, a Frank Furness colleague, and Samuel Huckel Jr., opened an architecture firm in 1881. Together they went on to design a number of notable buildings in this area: Rosemont College’s Sinnott residence; the Church of the Messiah at Broad and Montgomery; the Manufacturers Club at Broad and Walnut; and several buildings commissioned by the city.

The two men parted ways in 1900, when Huckel, alone, got an offer he couldn’t refuse: to remodel Grand Central Station. The database biography says, “Although Huckel would soon return to Philadelphia, the partners did not reconstitute their office; and Huckel went on to establish a new partnership with church architect Frank R. Watson (Watson & Huckel) while Hazlehurst worked independently.”

Hmm. Bad blood there? Jealousy?

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