At The Traditional Start of Summer, Good-Bye To A Pool Full Of Tradition


Last month, PlanPhilly reported that US Construction plans to demolish the Fante Leon pool, located at the northwest corner of Montrose and Darien Streets.

Demolition is now well underway, and all that remains of the pool is a fragment of the facade and a rubble-filled basin. Once demolition is complete, US Construction will erect three townhouses, complete with street level parking garages.

The century-old pool represented a critically important moment in the history of the Italian Market neighborhood, but because it was not on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, it was not protected from demolition.

The Fante Leon pool is one more casualty of a city that is powerless to protect its heritage and resigned to allow developers shape its future. Although it seems obvious, city government remains oblivious to the facts that intangible qualities, such as sense of place and character, drive growth, and that old buildings are the infrastructure of place.

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.


  1. can’t save everything

    things change

  2. I have mixed feelings. I loved the front facade of the pool. The pool itself was a mess causing leaking in neighbors basement. It was in disrepair, outside it was a magnet for dumping. I don’t think there was any realistic way to save this as a pool. I do think they could have saved some of the beautiful stone and brickwork.

  3. Thanks for this note, Rachel

    A new wave of demolition is making its way across Philadelphia, as various Hidden City postings demonstrate. Perennially on the ropes, the Historical Commission barely manages to survive, let alone produce new nominations, as Ryan Briggs has shown us.

    And then, of course, there is the mindless response Philadelphians know so well: “Things change. Can’t save everything” (see above). Indeed, it is becoming the ONLY response Philadelphians know.

    But what if we took another approach. What if we took a building like Willis Hale’s Keystone National Bank ( ) and treated it the way Bostonians have treated their Hayden Building ( )? Shocking.

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