Flashback Friday: That Time the Bellevue-Stratford on Broad Almost Got an Airstrip

Today’s blast from the past comes from Philaphilia, where GroJLart reminds as of that time building contractor Theodore Starrett proposed an airstrip at the top of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel on Broad Street so that, as GroJ elegantly puts it, “rich-ass visitors could fly directly to the roof of a building and be served with the highest of luxury.”

The idea, which he’d been kicking around for a few years, seemed to have an inkling of potential when hotelier Georges Boldt commissioned an architecture firm to design the proposed 90′ x 300′ air strip on the roof of the Bellevue-Stratford.

Suffice it to say, they never managed to get it off the ground:

George Boldt died later that year and the roof-to-roof airline went kaput shortly after it was formed. Everyone knows that the Empire State Building was supposed to have a Zeppelin dock on top, but that was mostly just an excuse to add an extra 200 feet to the building. 

99 Years Ago in Philadelphia: Start of February, 1916 [Philaphilia]

Owners Propose Historical Ardmore Buildings Be Demolished for Parking

The historical Ardmore properties in question as of 2012. | Photo via Google Street View

The historical Ardmore properties in question as of 2012. | Photo via Google Street View

Ooof, this is definitely not helping the already partially(?) deplored One Ardmore Place project.

As previously reported, Carl Dranoff’s planned mixed-use development has been mired with dissenters since its approval, going so far as to inspire a protest in November. More recently, the project was connected to a lawsuit filed by six local business owners against Lower Merion Township after the township granted the developer a historical road for his project.

Now, the Main Line Times’ Cheryl Allison reports the new owners of two historical properties on Cricket Avenue (47 and 53-55) have submitted a formal application for the demolition of their buildings. Their reasons for wanting the demo? Parking. 

More specifically, temporary parking to alleviate traffic during the construction of Dranoff’s One Ardmore Place.

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Meticulous Colonial Reproduction in Moorestown

lfdd39544-m0rA reproduction of the historic Tayloe House in Moorestown, NJColonial homes are great because they bring you a little sliver of what it was like to live in them 250 years ago. For the same reason, they’re also terrible. In 1750, there were no two-car garages, or built-in basement entertainment centers, or custom mahogany bars with Sub-Zero wine refrigerators, or granite countertops, or in-law suites complete with minibars. But what if you could have it both ways? All the flashy new stuff, right there along with the colonial history?

That’s exactly what’s offered in this “authentic Williamsburg reproduction” of the Tayloe House on East Main Street in Moorestown, NJ.

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Allan Domb Buys Historical Buildings Near Independence Hall

Side view screenshot of Domb's new properties via Google Street View.

Side view screenshot of Domb’s new properties via Google Street View.

Allan Domb, “Condo King” and recently appointed president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, has bought two historical buildings near Independence Hall: the Shippen-Wistar and Cadwalader Houses on South 4th Street.

Shippen-Wistar is perhaps the more well-known given its notable tenants. In 1744, William Penn sold the land to one William Shippen, a physician and one of the founders of the University of Penn. According to the Philadelphia Real Estate Blog, Shippen was a delegate to the Continental Congress and built the home circa 1750. His son, William Jr., went on to become the Continental Army’s director general of hospitals and one of the first speakers on anatomy in the country.

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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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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

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

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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