Will Threat to Jewelers Row Finally Unite Preservationists?

Since news broke Thursday about a developer's plan to replace five Sansom Street buildings with a 16-story apartment tower, the preservation community has swung into action with a last-minute effort to save the buildings.

Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

On one hand, it looks like a losing battle for preservationists. The five buildings on Jewelers Row that a developer wants to tear down and replace are not on the city’s Register of Historic Places, which would give them some protection from the wrecking ball. And the developer has already started pulling permits, meaning it’s legally too late to put the buildings on the register.

On the other hand, it might be just the battle that preservationists need.

Since news of the proposed development was reported by the Inquirer Thursday afternoon, advocates have jumped into action. A petition to stop the demolition by Anne Fadullon, the city’s Director of Planning and Development, has gotten more than 400 signatures. Something called The Keeping Society of Philadelphia has popped up to lobby for protecting the city’s old architecture. Paul Steinke, who became director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia earlier this year, has encouraged people on social media to sign the petition, while others, including some unfamiliar faces in Philly’s preservation community, have noted that the loss of so much of Jewelers Row would be particularly painful. Read more »