Key Germantown Ave Site Set For Rehab

The Schaeffer School and adjacent church. Photo: Bing Maps

Throughout Germantown, dozens of architectural gems stand vacant and underutilized. On one particularly afflicted block–the 4700 block–every building but one is vacant. But this summer, Weinstein Properties purchased one of those buildings, which is now scheduled for rehab and leasing.

The former Charles Schaeffer School, located two blocks north of Wayne Junction Station and across the street from Loudoun Park, graces the southern end of the block, below the overgrown Germantown Settlement Charter School complex and the crumbling Wakefield Presbyterian Church.

The Schaeffer School was built in 1876 by the School District of Philadelphia. The district’s Superintendent of Buildings, Lewis Esler, is cited as the architect of the building. The school is a rare example of a particular moment in public school design, in which brick yielded to stone, because schist had become abundant in the Wissahickon Valley, and in which open classroom spaces were divided into more specialized spaces, as prescribed by architect Samuel Sloan.

The building awaits a tenant. Photo: Rachel Hildebrandt

In July, Weinstein Properties purchased the school for $150,000 from the Mitzpah Seventh Day Adventist Church. Mitzpah had owned both the school and the adjacent Wakefield Presbyterian Church, but abandoned them to move into a larger historic church, the former Frankford Baptist Church (1853-1855) at 4357 Paul Street.

Ken Weinstein, principal of Weinstein Properties, was not deterred by the school’s dilapidated condition nor bleak surroundings. “I love the way the Schaeffer School sits at an angle on the property,” he said. “It was a building just waiting to be saved. My passion is renovating vacant, deteriorated commercial buildings and this one fit right into our mission.”

The school as it appeared in 1913. Photo: Free Library of Philadelphia

At present, Weinstein is clearing out the interior of the 10,000 sq. ft. building, which has retained little more than its original woodwork. When a tenant is obtained, he will outfit the interior according to the tenant’s needs. Thus far, a number of organizations, including a church and a school, have expressed interest in the property.

We reached out to the Nicetown CDC as well as Elfant Wissahickon Realtors for comment. Robert Elfant, principal of Elfant Wissahickon, said that he is glad that Weinstein is investing where few others would and added that “Ken is a smart, sophisticated developer who is also community-minded. I have confidence that something good will come of this.” The Nicetown CDC did not respond.

Weinstein also owns the fully restored one-room schoolhouse  at 6669 Germantown Avenue (the former Beggarstown School, built in 1740), which will soon open as Little Jimmie’s Bakery.

 

 

 

About the author

Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of PennDesign, is a native Philadelphian who is passionate about the changing city she inhabits. Before beginning her graduate studies in historic preservation with a focus on policy, Rachel obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011). She currently works as a program associate at Partners for Sacred Places.



No Comments


Trackbacks

  1. Harvard panel on Philadelphia sparks thoughts on the dilapidated built environment « W Rockland Street

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Inside SEPTA's Unused Underground Concourse, To Be Restored

Inside SEPTA’s Unused Underground Concourse, To Be Restored

December 2, 2016  |  Last Light

The Center City Concourse, a network of underground pedestrian walkways, has sat empty and largely unused for decades. But big plans are in the works to reopen and reanimate the dead space. Samantha Smyth and Chandra Lampreich takes us into the abandoned tunnels with this photo essay > more

Location Is Everything: Confessions Of A PhillyHistory User

Location Is Everything: Confessions Of A PhillyHistory User

November 30, 2016  |  Vantage

Volunteer PhillyHistory.org geotagger Louis Lescas is an urban historian, map wiz, and human GPS system all wrapped up in one. In this personal essay he shares his love and obsession with hunting locations of old photos for the Philadelphia City Archive > more

Triumph And Tragedy Under The El

Triumph And Tragedy Under The El

November 28, 2016  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow takes us to Front and Dauphin where the tragic downfall of a prosperous women's apparel merchant is entombed in sneakers and stucco > more

My Favorite Place: Rare Book Department At FLP

My Favorite Place: Rare Book Department At FLP

November 23, 2016  |  My Favorite Place

Join Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and Grip the raven inside the Rare Book Department of the Free Library in the newest installment of My Favorite Place > more

Marked Potential: Fidelity Trust Company

Marked Potential: Fidelity Trust Company

November 22, 2016  |  Marked Potential

For this month's Marked Potential Shila Griffith is North Philly bound to convert an old bank on Lehigh Avenue into a market cafe and community co-working space > more

When Cattle Men Reigned In The West

When Cattle Men Reigned In The West

November 21, 2016  |  Vantage

Livestock, slaughterhouses, and stock cars: these are the sights of West Philadelphia after the Civil War. Contributor Joshua Bevan introduces us to Irish immigrant cattle drover Dennis Smyth, a leading figure of the city's stockyard industry in the late 19th century > more