Rooftop Paradise: A Nautical-Inspired Deck on the Parkway

 

The nautical-inspired deck atop Jim Trachtenberg’s Art Museum home is one of the city’s most eye-catching. | Photo: Tony Gaye Photography

Drive by the 2300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue any summer night after 8 pm when the automatic timers turn the twinkle lights on, and you’ll spot a deck glowing like a pint-sized ocean liner cruising the night skies of the city. The deck, one of the city’s most eye-catching, sits atop Jim Trachtenberg’s stunning modern house crafted from two adjoining rowhouses.

If your invitation to this year’s Fourth of July party didn’t arrive, don’t worry. No one else got theirs either. Trachtenberg, host to an annual party that boasted perhaps the best views of the city’s fireworks over the Art Museum, is making the party even more exclusive this year: Just his fiancee Kathryn Miller and their immediate family. “After 35 years, I’ve retired my entertainment hat,” says Trachtenberg whose prime location, just yards from Mark di Suvero’s bright orange steel “Iroquois” sculpture, has even the local TV crews drooling for access.

An aerial view of fireworks and the Trachtenberg home. | Photo: Jim Trachtenberg

Too bad for the rest of us because this deck, built to resemble the rear of a yacht, is a bit of eccentric charm on the roof of this double-wide house in the Art Museum area. Carefully constructed with espresso-colored African cedar wood, outfitted with authentic nautical lights, stainless steel railings, and even possessing a nod to a boat wheelhouse with a separate deck just big enough for some nautical flags and a captain’s chair, this is the ultimate urban getaway.

Trachtenberg bought the first house in 1977 and truly appreciated its desirable location when Pope John Paul II visited the city drawing millions to line Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a peek at the Popemobile. Through the decades, he’s enjoyed concerts, parades and fireworks along the Parkway from this sweet spot, not to mention the unobstructed view of the Art Museum from the master bedroom.

The bi-level deck features a captain’s chair, left, and a shady spot for relaxing and stargazing. | Photo: Tony Gaye Photography

In 1998, he bought the neighboring property and then gutted both interiors, moved the front entrance to the side on Judson Street, and reworked the space using his design know-how honed through years of working at his family’s custom furniture manufacturing business, Tracey, Inc., located in Northern Liberties. The result is a sleek, contemporary domicile with a clever use of space reminiscent of a ship builder’s thoughtful efficiency. The rooms are all smartly designed for the ultimate flow of space and serenity. Miller’s green thumb, perhaps from her country girl Iowa roots, are in evidence in the home, from the healthy happy orchids found throughout to the beautifully landscaped exteriors.

Though the party has been put on hold this year, Trachtenberg at age 60, has a busy schedule of work and fun to keep. “I’m not done,” he says with a laugh. “Life is worth living, baby.”

Lovely container gardens frame the skyline view | Photo: Tony Gaye Photography

About the author

Sarah Jordan is a National Magazine Award-nominated writer who lives in Philadelphia. She has written extensively for national and regional magazines and newspapers and is the author of four books. Jordan has written on parenting, lifestyle, design, travel and the arts for magazines and newspapers including Parents, Parenting, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, New Jersey Life, Philadelphia Weekly, Seven Arts Magazine and Playbill. She authored The Teen Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice for Parents, The Pregnancy Instruction Manual: Essential Information, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice for Parents-to-be, co-authored The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Parenting and The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings. She is currently obsessed with surfing.



3 Comments


  1. Ooooooo. Rich peoples’ homes! How _hidden_ . . . from those of us not posh enough to be invited to the party.

    Interesting shift in editorial tone. Has Hidden City started competing with Philly Mag for that much coveted plastic surgery advertising revenue?

  2. Wish I had gotten an invitation to that party!! When I lived in Old City a million years ago, there was a (admittedly not quite so nice) deck on top of my building. I loved going up there and seeing the decks all around me on neighboring buildings. You had no idea from street level that so much was going on up there! That is a truly hidden part of Philadelphia – thanks for highlighting it.

Leave a Reply

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

 

Recent Posts
Protesting Dilworth Park's Lack Of Protests

Protesting Dilworth Park’s Lack Of Protests

July 22, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Saffron critiques priorities for central civic space, gentrification concerns scuttle Point Breeze mixed-use grocery proposal, and 30th Street Station gets a patriotic light show > more

On Callowhill, Channeling The Ghost Of Old York Road

On Callowhill, Channeling The Ghost Of Old York Road

July 22, 2016  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us down to 4th and Callowhill where an out of place fire plug summons the spirit of Old York Road > more

In The Belly Of Girard Theatre

In The Belly Of Girard Theatre

July 21, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Some dramatic urban exploration in bodega, smaller and targeted Target store opens on Chestnut, and South Broad median get mile-long mural > more

U.S. DOT Workshop Explores Capping And Connectivity On Vine Street

U.S. DOT Workshop Explores Capping And Connectivity On Vine Street

July 20, 2016  |  News

The U.S. Department of Transportation held a two-day community forum on July 16 and 17 exploring design interventions for reimagining Vine Street. Stephen Stofka has the recap > more

State Bill Would Bring Automatic Speed Cameras To Boulevard

State Bill Would Bring Automatic Speed Cameras To Boulevard

July 20, 2016  |  Morning Blend

PA Rep. John Taylor introduces speed enforcement bill for Boulevard, Planning Commission OKs three projects, and crews cleaning up for DNC > more

After 16-Year Hiatus, Mid-century Public Art To Return To Public View

After 16-Year Hiatus, Mid-century Public Art To Return To Public View

July 19, 2016  |  Morning Blend

The “Free Interpretation of Plant Forms” coming to Chestnut Hill, Point Breeze assents to partial residential conversion of Walter Smith School, neighbor wants to save tree from development in Pennsport, and public schools to double as community centers > more