Jaw-Dropper of the Week: Mermaid Lane Residence with Gothic Dining Hall

615 W Mermaid Ln,  Philadelphia, PA, 19118

615 W Mermaid Ln, Philadelphia, PA, 19118

As the story goes, in 1889, financier Edward W. Clark Jr. commissioned George T. Pearson–an architect noted for his “eclectic Victorian taste“–to design him a home. The result was “Keewaydin,” an anchor estate in the St. Martin’s neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia.

Today, Keewaydin is no more. But when it did exist, the massive property vaunted a main house and two sizable ancillary wings; one for the ballroom, the other for the kitchen and service quarters. According to James Garrison, each branch of the residence was connected at the basement level only, which made subdividing each into separate homes easy in 1958. (Read the home’s full story here.)

It’s this Jaw-Dropper, the former Keewaydin ballroom, that is on the market now.

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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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The Sherlock Holmes of Raccoon Infestations Wins a Battle Against Nature!

You may remember that I was inadvertently running a wildlife park in my Germantown home earlier this year. At the time, I was still holding out hope that the first wildlife company I hired would manage to trap the raccoons living in the walls of my house. I wanted it to work out, because the dude they sent was so sweet, and because they were cheaper than any of the other companies I found. But after several attempts to trap the raccoons, the company basically shrugged and walked away.

I talked to the owner of the attached twin again. We agreed that his handyman would come out at night, when the raccoons were marauding somewhere outside the house, and close up the chimney we thought the raccoons were using to enter the house. But the handyman understandably kept postponing a project that would require him to climb out on the roof late at night. The tenants in the house next door weren’t complaining about nocturnal noises, so the landlord wasn’t very motivated to follow up. And since we were still hearing the animals at all hours of the night over on our side of the party wall, we were pretty sure the babies weren’t leaving the den yet. Closing up the chimney while the mother was outside might not be a good idea. We had a horror of accidentally shutting the babies up in the walls of our house.

Then it got worse.

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Six-Thousand Square Feet of Footwear Comes to Roxborough Next Week

shoes_ia34063Paging Sarah Jessica Parker, Imelda Marcos and Beth Shak: The chain Famous Footwear opens its 40th Philadelphia-area store in the Androrra Shopping Center (8500 Henry Avenue) next week. According to an item in the Philadelphia Business Journal, the decision was based on “consumer need.” What’s going on, Northwest Philly? The store is a need? Current footwear options must be pretty shoddy. Ahem.

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House of the Day: 4BR Home With Ridiculously Exquisite Period Details for Less Than $350,000

We expect this single-family brick Victorian in West Germantown to get snapped up quickly. It’s got off-street parking, an enormous back yard, and a ton of original detail. The living room fireplace is made of slate, and the house is a reasonable four bedrooms and two baths. There’s a wrap-around porch in front, and a shady patio in the back. We’d like to commend the listing agent on her smart use of photographs. If we had a spare $350,000, we’d buy this house just based on the close-up shot of the hardware on these original pocket doors.

The location, too, is kind of dreamy. It’s half a block from Cloverly Park in a neighborhood full of creative professionals, avid gardeners and young families. There are two community gardens within a few blocks of this house, and it’s close to Manayunk, East Falls, and Mt. Airy. There are two regional rail stops close by–Queen Lane and Chelten, and plenty of bus routes.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: Fireplace Nook With Pew-Like Benches

This six-bedroom stone Arts and Crafts home has much to recommend it, but we can think of little more satisfying on a cold, winter day than sitting by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book in this little nook. The benches look like restored church pews, but that shouldn’t deter the non-devout; the spot is suitable for anyone, even (perhaps especially) those of the feline persuasion.

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