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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From the outside, this Old City home looks like any other brick townhouse on tiny Cuthbert Street. Which is to say, darling and vaguely historic. What is not immediately discernible from the cobblestones outside is that this home was honored twice in 2006: once with the AIA Philadelphia Honor Award and once with the AIA Pennsylvania Citation of Merit Winning for a Renovated Home. From the inside, the meticulous rehab becomes apparent.
The two-bedroom house was renovated with a contemporary style which – frankly – feels refreshing on a tiny and storied Old City street. Floors are made from Brazilian walnut and the walls have been replastered. Lines are sleek and clean, and details like pocket doors and transoms have been transformed into chic, modern elements that now hardly evoke the home’s 1850s construction date. The gourmet kitchen features a hidden table that springs out from under a double-sided fireplace.
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“This is the story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a house…” that used to be a bank.
No? Okay, well the building at 3rd and Arch, which did house seven strangers, is currently on the market. Again.
Designed by noted bank architect John T. Brugger in the neoclassical style and constructed in 1902, the current TRUST event space has had many incarnations. First, it was the Union National Bank; next, the Corn Exchange National Bank and Trust Company, its longest-running iteration to date (1907-1970) whose title is still engraved over the entrance; and finally, as the setting for MTV’s Real World: Philadelphia in 2004.
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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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Revolution Development Group says it plans to construct eight new townhomes, to be called Bread Street Estates, on the site of a parking lot at the corner of Race and Bread streets in Old City. The project’s leasing agent told Curbed Philly that the developer will break ground in August with the hope of finishing construction in 10 months, though that may only be the first four homes since the developer’s website says that this will be a two-phase project. According to city records, L&I granted a construction permit for the project in April.
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Back in January, when GQ’s Alan Richman ratings of Philadelphia cheesesteaks came out, Old City’s Sonny’s Steaks was at the top and neighboring Campo’s Deli was panned for its service. On a recent weekday afternoon, we set out to put the Old City cheesesteaks up against each other, mano-e-mano.
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United by Blue, left, and Erdon, right. | Photos by Courtney Apple.
The Market Street divide is perhaps never so stark as in Old City. Head south and find a desert of fading bars and restaurants, but wander north and discover one of the best clusters of boutiques in the entire city.
Old City packs in some of the best shopping in the city. From indie boutiques to local designers to a hidden stash of specs, here are 10 reasons to make this your next shopping jaunt.
Click here for your Old City shopping guide!
Chips with charred eggplant salsa | Photo by Courtney Apple
If you’re comfortable looking a bartender straight in the eye and asking for a Sex Panther, then girl, does Jason Cichonski have the bar for you.
That Granny Smith-and-cranberry cosmo isn’t the only cocktail on offer, of course. You could also order a Red Hot Mama (black cherry margarita) or a Mr. Muffin (gin and tonic with strawberry and sage) — though, as with the Pirate Hooker (red currant Bellini), propriety would seem to dictate tacking a “for my friend” onto such requests.
But then, hitting Old City for the propriety is like going to Thailand for the cheese.
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We recommend doing each and every one of these things this week:
From Foobooz: Sip N Glo is celebrating its first birthday by giving away 12 ounce juices today. ... Sip N Glo’s giveaway goes to 4 p.m., which is convenient because that’s when Häagen-Dazs’ free cone day kicks off. So it would be possible to pardon the pun, double-dip on free stuff on South Street today. Get to Sip N Glo at 932 South Street and then stroll down to Häagen-Dazs at 242 South Street before 8 p.m. for your free ice cream.
Get ready to figure out whodunit in a murder mystery at the Franklin Institute. Complete with staff members dressed as characters from the classic board game Clue, visitors will have to use their wits to quickly cross off weapons and rooms from their sheets to find the killer. Along the way participants will learn how real detectives use footprints, fingerprints, and analyze blood splatter to solve crimes. Tuesday, May 13th, 6:30 p.m., The Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street.
From Foobooz: This Wednesday, May 14th, La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount will be hosting its next whole animal barbecue. It will be a whole lamb being cooked in the back courtyard in La Calaca’ Caja China. The barbecue is $29 per person and includes Lima beans, esquites (Mexican street corn) salsa verde and corn tortillas. See the menu here.
From Be Well Philly: City Sports Philly is teaming up with Flywheel Wednesday night for a free indoor cycling class at the Center City studio. The 60-minute class is at 7:45 p.m. and space is limited, because there are a limited number of bikes (duh). Cycling shoes and water are provided, and City Sports will be handing out discount coupons for swag at its store, too. Sign up is happening over at Eventbrite. Have at it.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art may be trying to bring back an old-timey tradition with its’ free snuff box designing day. Inspired by artifacts in the Museum, these boxes were originally used as ornate containers for tobacco. Free with regular admission, you and your family can create your own tobacco transporters. Wednesday, May 14th, 5:50 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Historic Philadelphia (HP) is hosting its sixth annual day of fundraising in Franklin Square this Thursday. All donations will be going to HP’s efforts to promote Franklin Square as a “welcoming green space” in the heart of Philly. At $200 a ticket, donors will be treated to cocktails, auctions, a dinner and dancing in a festival-like atmosphere. Thursday, May 15th, 5:30 p.m., Franklin Square, 200 North 6th Street.
Bring your appetite this Thursday for a street food festival of epic proportions. Over 85 local food trucks and vendors will make this the biggest Night Market yet, along with ticket raffles and a photo booth put on by the Arden Theater Company. Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Cabaret will perform all night as you discover new and exciting foodsAmerica’s most historic square mile has to offer. Thursday, May 15th, 6 p.m., 3rd and Arch streets.
The Barefoot Artist is a locally produced documentary concerning Chinese-born Philadelphia-raised artist Lily Yeh. The film will focus on Yeh’s passionate work with poverty stricken and at-risk communities across the globe, and how she blurs the line between social work and art. Both Lily and the Philadelphia-born directors will be in the audience for a Q&A session after the show. Thursday, May 15th, 7:30 p.m., Pereleman Theater, 300 South Broad Street.
Winter is dead. We’re all drinking outside now and wearing open-toed shoes and counting down until we get to this place so we can lay in hammocks adjacent to the Delaware and forget that snow ever happened.
The blush of spring is when bright, fresh places like this modern Old City townhome look especially appealing. Yes, the appeal of living in Philadelphia is often found in period details and cobblestone streets. But sometimes we just want a brand new bathtub.
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