3rd Ward: A Landmark In The Making For South Kensington

 

Caution: show stopping centerpiece above | Photo: Peter Woodall

“We wanted something especially interesting—not just condos,” says Paul Maiello, who with his partner David Belt, is developing the 27,000 sq ft space that will soon, at last, become 3rd Ward, the Brooklyn-based artisan instructional center. “We figured we’d just buy it, figure it out later. We’re trying to make the neighborhood a better place.”

That’s not just a sound bite for the man who is not a developer per se, and who’s hesitant to even put his job title into a single word. “I work in the film industry,” he says, stopping short of running down the impressive list of films he’s worked on, like Twelve Monkeys, The Sixth Sense, and Silver Linings Playbook. Maiello and his wife Lisa have a vested interest in the neighborhood: they live right up the street in a former coffee roastery and are actively involved in the South Kensington Community Partners. (Lisa is the board president.)

The neighborhood’s identity is an important distinction for what is sure to become a destination for artists and makers. At 1227 North 4th Street, 3rd Ward Philadelphia is not even a block above Girard Avenue. The past fifteen years have witnessed the wild transformation of Northern Liberties from post-industry to artist haven to post-Bart mother lode. But too often, when the resources and capital come in, they stop at Girard.

“We love Northern Liberties,” Lisa says. “But we’re trying to focus on the fact that this is South Kensington, help identify the place and bring in new residents.”

This particular pocket, thanks to its location between Northern Liberties, Fishtown, North Philadelphia’s Ludlow, and the Barrio, is a mini-melting pot—just how the Maiellos like it. “We love the neighborhood because it’s diverse,” Lisa explains. “You can’t control in-population, but you can try to guide it.” With 3rd Ward, they’re hoping to take advantage of the momentum brought in by new blood and create opportunities for connection with the established neighborhood.

Looking from the former church space to the former dye shop space—and into new craftsman space | Photo: Peter Woodall

Looking from the former church space to the former dye shop space—and into new craftsman space | Photo: Peter Woodall

It’s a pretty visible start. When it opens, 3rd Ward will occupy a mishmash of properties cobbled into one massive space wrapping from the corner of 4th & Thompson around to Orianna Street in the rear.

Built in 1854 as St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, it changed hands in the 1880s and was converted into the Philip Hauck & Son Paper Box Manufactory. (Just next door is John T. Windrim’s ornate Engine House #29, built in 1894.) Hauck built the three story warehouse addition right onto the church, using the same foundation as the homes which preceded it. Behind the former church stood a collection of out buildings, workshops, a dye shop, and a brick fire escape standing separate from the building.

Through the renovation process, Maiello, Belt and their team, including Design Art Build Co., tried to keep as much of the existing structure as possible. Kathy Vissar, whose scagliola work with her firm Wells Vissar accentuates space from Bar Ferdinand to the Ben Franklin Room of the US State Department, replicated the original window sills. Additionally, they maintained and reused a lot of material in the buildings: refinished floors, oddly built support columns, even layered traces of the church’s paint and wallpapering.

An office among a sanctuary | Photo: Peter Woodall

An office among a sanctuary | Photo: Peter Woodall

As to the all too frequently asked question: wasn’t this supposed to be open last summer? “Well,” Maiello says, “when you put a lot of money into a space like this, it takes time. It needs to be right.”

Whether it’s exactly right won’t be determined until 3rd Ward opens its doors—soon. Given the work that’s gone into making the church-turned-box-factory into a massive coworking space for an established Brooklyn brand, it seems the burgeoning South Kensington landmark is on the right track.

* * *

Don't forget to wash your hands: reclaimed materials in the men's room | Photo: Peter Woodall

Don’t forget to wash your hands: reclaimed materials in the men’s room | Photo: Peter Woodall

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



3 Comments


  1. All sounds positive , good luck .

  2. The church building is very similar to the one I wrote about at 2124 Race that was built in 1855 and converted to industrial use in 1880:

    http://hiddencityphila.org/2012/06/third-associate-church/

  3. I was part of the painting crew in there real good to see its all coming together

Trackbacks

  1. Afternoon Quick Hits | Philadelphia Real Estate Blog
Recent Posts
Fragments Of The Franco Belgium Society In Frankford

Fragments Of The Franco Belgium Society In Frankford

April 20, 2015  |  Vantage

Underneath a thick coating of concrete and graffiti lies the former home of The Franco Belgium Society. Memories of the French and Belgian presence that arrived in Frankford during WWI has mostly been lost to a neighborhood exodus in the 1960's and fading recollections. Contributor Max Marin gathers the last remaining fragments of the community and the clubhouse on Deal Street > more

Circling Back To The Ross Loopholes

Circling Back To The Ross Loopholes

April 20, 2015  |  Possible City

Garage-front houses are going up across from the Betsy Ross House because the developers of the houses exploited a trifecta of loopholes in the regulatory system. Following up on an earlier report, Nathaniel Popkin peers through > more

US Navy Considering Permission For Residential Use In Navy Yard

US Navy Considering Permission For Residential Use In Navy Yard

April 20, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Adaptive reuse of former installation’s facilities possible, Fairmount Park Conservancy broadens mission, and a look at the design for Pat’s Steaks mixed-use > more

New Delaware Avenue Development Proposals Put Maritime Supply Warehouse In A Corner

New Delaware Avenue Development Proposals Put Maritime Supply Warehouse In A Corner

April 17, 2015  |  News, Vantage

Time bought for the former Edward Corner Marine Merchandize Warehouse in a zoning meeting Wednesday night. Fishtown neighbors shot down developer Michael Samschick's large-scale mixed-use proposals for the three adjoining lots along Delaware Avenue. Contributor Stephen Stofka was there and has a few take-away recommendations for a less sprawling, more conscientious treatment of the blocks > more

The City Of Neighborhoods, For Better Or Worse

The City Of Neighborhoods, For Better Or Worse

April 17, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A look at the decentralized state of affairs in Center City, Live Nation announces plans for reuse of Fishtown factory, and distressed parkers fight South Philly proposal > more

Broad, Market, And The Wholesome City

Broad, Market, And The Wholesome City

April 16, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Reflections on the laying of the cornerstone to City Hall, short film eavesdrops in on Philadelphians in motion, Samschick’s Delaware Avenue projects not too popular with residents, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia celebrates milestone, and community input for West Philly plan > more