Home Built by the Strawbridges Hits the Market for $1.15M

TREND photo courtesy Elfant Wissahickon.

TREND photo courtesy Elfant Wissahickon.

Known for founding the beloved (and well-missed!) department store at 8th and Market, the Strawbridge family also constructed three large homes during the last few decades of the 19th century. One of the “Three Sisters” properties – a Queen Anne Victorian landmark in Mt. Airy – hit the market this week after a significant renovation process.

Owner Daniel Cohen reported that he worked with Lawrence McEwan for layout and structural architecture and Jamie Swidler for interior finishes and furnishings. Cohen himself acted as general contractor alongside Dean Coffin and Martin Madden. Renovations included installing ten zones of radiant heat over three hardwood floors as well as smart technology that will enable new owners to control HVAC functions, lighting and security remotely. There is also a sound system wired through most of the house.
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Delightful Century-Old Tudor in Mount Airy

TREND photo courtesy Elfant Wissahickon.

TREND photo courtesy Elfant Wissahickon.

There are plenty of homes in Philadelphia that are 110 years old. But it’s rare to find one where details have been thoughtfully preserved but it doesn’t scream This is historic! Look at this hearth! This Mount Airy gem is a best-case scenario. Modern upgrades, charming details, lots of period-related curb appeal.

The home features five bedrooms and two full baths plus a powder room. Built in 1904, the single home is full of character. The entryway is surrounded by leaded stained glass windows and there are multiple rooms with at least one wall of exposed brick. A hallway entry on the second floor is made of exposed stonework and the living room fireplace features an intricately carved wood mantel.

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Brunch Sessions are Back in Mount Airy

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Brunch Sessions are back and better (plus cheaper) than ever. This Saturday, July 12th and Sunday, July 13th seven restaurants will host the summer-themed edition of Brunch Sessions: Four Seasons of Prix Fixe. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., participating restaurants will offer three-courses of seasonally inspired brunch, some of which are prepared just for the event, for just $16. From Latin flavor to Southern comfort and a retro 50s diner to an intimate BYO, Mt. Airy’s Brunch Sessions will surely draw a crowd of food lovers of all kinds.

And this year there’s a new kid on the block: Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange. Not only a newbie to the event, but to Mt. Airy as well, this restaurant at 7152 Germantown Avenue will serve up country classics, like Southern buttermilk fried chicken, cheeseburgers and hand-cut fries for guests to enjoy.

Plus if you’re not too stuffed, the fun continues throughout the day with live music, beer tastings – located at 7401 Germantown Avenue – shopping and much more.

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Enchantment in Mt. Airy: Gardens and a Backyard Wishing Well

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It’s hard to find a home more charming than this 1830 Mt. Airy farmhouse. The wishing well and gardens alone evoke Snow White and the white picket fencing just moves things even more squarely into American iconography.

The home is – of course – listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic places. Its century-plus age means the floors are still the original pumpkin pine. The farmhouse itself has three bedrooms and one full and one half bath. The upstairs has been updated a big, with second-floor laundry and a renovated bathroom. In addition to the farmhouse, there is a carriage house out back. It includes a bedroom and bath of its own.

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There’s Basically a Castle on Allens Lane in Mt. Airy

Exterior of 701 W Allens Lane, Philadelphia, PA.

Exterior of 701 W Allens Lane, Philadelphia, PA.

There’s something stately about this home built in 1894. Maybe it’s the stony exterior or its prominent crenellated turret. Whatever the case, the house is rather conveniently situated: It’s a 12-minute car ride from Wissahickon Valley Park, and 4 minutes from the hum of Germantown Ave.

The home’s merits don’t stop there, however.

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Mt. Airy Residence With Pompeian Brick and Shaded Piazza

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With its wide center hall and looping, broad staircase, it’s easy to imagine this home circa 1907 when it served as a girls’ boarding and day school. There is something to the stained glass in the stairway and the window seat that makes it easy to envision an academic setting where students were enthralled by the all-female, college-educated faculty. But that’s on the inside. From the outside, the property looks more like a fancy Spanish villa than a place where students were likely actually learning French.

Herman Wendell and Walter Bassett Smith developed the entire neighborhood of Pelham by the late 1800s, luring city dwellers to Mt. Airy with modern conveniences like clean water and access to public transportation. Constructed of Pompeian brick, the home stands out in the neighborhood with its golden balustraded piazza and terrace.

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Are the Union Protests at the Trolley Car Diner Legal?

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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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