On the Market: Contemporary Trinity in Bella Vista

This 160-year-old trinity near the Italian Market and Washington Avenue doesn’t look its age at all thanks to a very smart renovation.

house for sale Bella Vista modernized trinity exterior front perspectives

The house you see above has been around for 160 years, but on the inside, it looks as fresh as today. You’ll find this very nice starter house at 603 Montrose St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | Bright MLS images via BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

Trinities are just about as old as Philadelphia itself: Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied residential street, is lined with trinity houses dating back to the early 1700s.

But by the end of the 1920s, they had disappeared from Philadelphia builders’ vocabulary of house styles. Larger families, demand for more space, building codes, zoning ordinances and cheap “workingman’s” rowhouses all combined to do in this Colonial version of affordable housing.

The trinities that survive, however, continue to play the role they played in the city’s early years, namely, to offer decent, affordable shelter for working folks.

Take this handsomely updated trinity on Bella Vista’s eastern edge. According to the listing data, this house was built in 1860.

house for sale Bella Vista modernized trinity main floor

Main floor

You wouldn’t be able to tell once you entered this modernized trinity house for sale. A very attractive updating has turned it into a striking contemporary residence.

house for sale Bella Vista modernized trinity kitchen


Besides giving its main floor a new kitchen, a glass-block-lit dining nook and built-in shelving in the archway connecting the living room and the kitchen ell, the makeover reinterpreted the classic trinity staircase by totally opening it up.

house for sale Bella Vista modernized trinity dining area

Dining nook

Because it’s now a floating spiral staircase, you might actually be able to get your mattress up it. Same for your bedframe once you disassemble it.

second-floor bedroom and bathroom

Second-floor bedroom and bathroom

You will have to carry both all the way to the top floor, however, for the same makeover enlarged the second-floor bathroom to the point where the second-floor bedroom is an afterthought.



Because the bathroom is now quite nice (and also lit by a glass-block wall), you might not mind that at all.  After all, you can probably shoehorn a desk in the remaining space and turn it into a home office.

third-floor bedroom

Third-floor bedroom

Besides, there’s room enough on the top floor to accommodate even the biggest of beds. There’s also a good-sized closet, a beamed vaulted ceiling and exposed brick in the stairwell.



As the kitchen ell ate this house’s side yard, the outdoor space now consists of a balcony off the second floor. It offers you the opportunity to catch some rays and fresh air without leaving home.

But there are many reasons you might want to leave home anyway, thanks to its location. Around the corner is Shot Tower Coffee, which the listing agent describes as “your new favorite espresso joint.” Walk three blocks west and you will be in the middle of the Italian Market, where you can get all kinds of foodstuffs, kitchenware, and — yes — even more coffee.

Washington Avenue’s array of Asian and Mexican grocers and eateries lies just to your south, and South Street and two excellent supermarkets lie just to your north. You’ll also find interesting dining and shopping on Fabric Row, just to your east, and the Delaware riverfront just a little further past that.

Put its amenities and its location together with its price and you have yourself a great starter house. If you’re looking to buy your first home, we suggest you start with this one.





SALE PRICE: $284,500

OTHER STUFF: This house’s sale price has been reduced twice, most recently by $10,500 on Dec. 4th.

603 Montrose St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 [Louise Fischer | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors]