Left To The Archeologists

 

Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

After succumbing in a mini-neighborhood controversy to the wishes of yet another unimaginative developer–can anyone name a well-designed Bella Vista house built this century?–David Guinn’s much revered mural “Autumn (a.k.a Your House in the Forest)” at Ninth and Bainbridge is about to be obliterated in its entirety. Scaffolding and chicken wire are up over the remaining section of the painting. That means the stucco artisans are their way.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



4 Comments


  1. Succumbing? The could have built the house by right and the ZBA granted the parking variance. Would not succumbing mean taking it to court and losing? Would it have meant sitting on the surface parking lot until the police came?

    Yes it’s an ugly house but what the hell do you think people should have done about it?

    • Well, yes, the mural did succumb to the developer building the house. Nothing more was implied.
      If you read my original article on the issue, you’ll see I wasn’t fundamentally opposed to developing the lot (quite a lot of other people were). What I was opposed to was another wasted opportunity to build something imaginative on a major corner in the neighborhood. Very few people even wondered why a mixed-use commercial-residential project wasn’t insisted on–it would have been in most other cities, where planners would have seen the opportunity to create more value and better quality of life for residents.

      • Yes, because the NIMBY opposition wouldn’t have been nearly as strong to that.

      • It wasn’t insisted on because it was an R10 parcel. Commercial would have been great but the project is what it is because it was almost by right. I’ll agree that it is a disappointment. I think as in most cases this isn’t a case of a bad variance or something wrong with the developer but of poor mapping of parcels. This corner should have been commercial just like the other two at the intersection.

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