Your October N ewsletter
Participants in the Rust Belt Takeover getting an up-close look at the SS United States--from the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance.

What Fall Returns 

Isn't it surprising how easily October sweeps us into the past?  Even before September ends, we find ourselves digging up ancient photos of old Halloween costumes. Before we know it, we are joining friends and family in the seasonal rituals: an apple picking trip here or a 'haunted' hayride there. The old vow to never bob for apples is ignored
 at great personal peril. We find joy in our small traditions and draw new inspiration from walking the season's familiar trails. 

It's this time of year, too, that our old buildings seem most vital, most alive with the spirit of the season. We meet glowing houses on neighborhood streets as early evenings return. T he leaves change and drift from branches. More and more of the built environment returns to view. Then it is easy to recognize just how much we depend on buildings to give us a sense of place, a sense of ourselves. 

We hope you will join us in finding time for the season's small delights. May a sense for preserving what matters be returned to you during this extraordinary season of change and beauty. May you ALSO have a very Happy Halloween!

-The Preservation Alliance Team
Advocacy Update
Three Alliance-backed bills are under consideration by City Council this week --from Wikipedia Commons
Task Force Recommendations ...making their way through City Council
On the heels of Mayor Kenney's Historic Preservation Task Force, three new bills are currently under consideration by Philadelphia's City Council. 

All three bills are amendments to the city's zoning code, with the intention of better incentivizing investment in and maintenance of historic properties.

The bills under consideration allow Accessory Dwelling Units (sometimes referred to as "granny flats" or "in-law suites") within the envelope of historic single-family homes; eliminate and/or reduce parking requirements for historic rehabs; and provide greater flexibility for conversions of special purpose properties such as churches, schools, and former factories.

All three are recommendations offered in the Final Report of the Preservation Task Force and are specific to properties listed on the Philadelphia Register. The bills have been favorably voted out of the Committee on Rules and will be considered by the full City Council for final passage on Thursday, October 24. 

Also on Council's agenda this month, Council member Jannie Blackwell recently hosted a hearing before City Council's Committee on Finance to consider an assistance fund for owners of historically-designated properties, with special attention to low and moderate income households. The resolution remains pending and will be considered further in the coming weeks. 

In the coming months, we also anticipate the creation of a Preservation Trust Fund; stronger protections within Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts; and the introduction of "lite" historic districts, which would regulate demolition but provide greater flexibility for repair and maintenance.
 The home of solar energy pioneer Frank Shuman has been added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places--from Bradley Maule for Hidden City Philadelphia
More Properties Join Philadelphia Register of Historic Places

Eleven more properties were added to the Philadelphia Register at Friday's meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. 

Among them are: 

  • The Frank Shuman House and Laboratory in Tacony (4600 Disston St and 6913 Ditman St). Shuman was an early developer of solar technology.
  • Three Second Empire residences designed by James H. Windrim in 1872 (711, 713, and 715 N. 6th St).
  • The Kensington Hospital overlooking Norris Square (128-40 Diamond St), and 
  • Five Catholic churches, St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church (1001-19 N. 5th St) arguably the grandest of the set. 

Again under consideration at Friday's meeting was a request to demolish the 19th Street Baptist Church, which is listed on the Register and whose custodians have been seeking to sell the property. No material was provided to clarify the need for demolition and the request was denied. Read more from PlanPhilly here.

The Robert Purvis house undergoes repairs.--Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital for Billy Penn
Historic Philly Underground Railroad House Saved from the Brink of Collapse

Repairs are finally being undertaken at the Robert Purvis house at 16th and Mount Vernon. Many years of deferred maintenance and outright neglect had left the future looking grim for this 1859 home, once an essential stop along the Underground Railroad. 

Now, the Spring Garden Community Development Corporation has been appointed a conservator of the three-story home and plans to restore it to residential use. Read more from Billy Penn here .
A developer's plans for 500 S. Broad Street include the former District Health Center No. 1 (left)--from the Goldenberg Group
New Plan for 500 S. Broad Street Includes District Health No. 1

Some eyebrows were raised a few years ago when we successfully nominated the 1959 District Health Center No. 1 building to the Philadelphia historic register. But, in this new proposal  unveiled by the Goldenberg Group earlier this month, the building will be incorporated into a truly distinctive, artful, and uniquely Philadelphian complex. You can read more about the $150 million redevelopment plan here.  
 Young Friends Recap
A Rest Belt Takeover group inside the infamous Buery Building--from the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance
Young Friends Host Rust Belt Takeover in Philadelphia
The Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance hosted the #NotRustyJustGritty Rust Belt Takeover in Philadelphia Oct. 3 - 6--the first expansion of this series outside the traditional boundaries of industrial decay, which contain the Rust Belt. 

These 'takeovers' are biannual partnerships with local preservationists who collaborate with fellow enthusiasts on three days of tours, workshops, and other gatherings.

Among the events of the weekend: a tour of North Broad Street featuring the Uptown Theater and the Beury Building; a tour of the mothballed SS United States; a paper-making tour in Historic Rittenhouse Town; a behind the scenes tour of Reading Terminal Market led by Preservation Alliance Executive Director Paul Steinke. All in all, 80+ participants took part in 16 tours, talks, and hands-on workshops in Philadelphia.  
Guests and friends took over the admiral's cabin during this year's 'In With the Old."
--from Claire Rosen Photography

Young Friends' 'In With the Old' Fundraiser Charts a Successful Course
On October 3, the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance celebrated their 6th Annual 'In With the Old' benefit party aboard Cruiser Olympia, the world's oldest steel warship still above water. 

The Olympia was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Her two main engines are themselves recognized National Historic Engineering Landmarks. 

The crowd braved the rainy night and became part of the Olympia's evening crew. Guests grabbed drinks from the galley, posed in the Admiral's Cabin, snacked on the gun deck, and retreated to the mess to take on their enemy in an old-fashioned (and less risky!) Battleship board game.
Best of all, the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance surpassed their ambitious $6,000 fundraising goal and topped out at $9,350 raised!!!! Thank you to all the sponsors, the Cruiser Olympia, and the Independence Seaport Museum for this fruitful evening.
Happening Soon:
Washington Square Park--from Thom Callen for Philly Voice
Oct 26. Around Washington Square 
Preservation Alliance Architecture Walking Tour

Walk around one of William Penn's original planned public parks. Learn how this square served as a burial ground for over 1,200 Revolutionary War soldiers, then as a potter's field, before receiving its present name in 1825. Today, many of the surrounding office buildings are being transformed into residences as Washington Square serves as an important gateway to the nearby residential Society Hill neighborhood.

Saturday, October 26
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

The First Baptist Church at 17th and Sansom Street near Rittenhouse Square--from Wikipedia Commons
Oct 27. The Sacred Sites of Rittenhouse Square
Preservation Alliance Architecture Walking Tour

Visit outstanding examples of religious architecture in the Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles in the Rittenhouse Square area, and trace the city's development west of Broad Street from the mid 19th century through the Gilded Age era.

Sunday, October 27
2:00 to 4:00 PM



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