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
Big Gun Bollards & Philly's Lost Street Cannons

Big Gun Bollards & Philly’s Lost Street Cannons

June 22, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us on an exploration of the cannons that once graced Philadelphia's landscape, many of which were used as street fenders for 150 years > more

Pride And Prejudice: Honor LGBT History With Rizzo Statue Removal

Pride And Prejudice: Honor LGBT History With Rizzo Statue Removal

June 21, 2018  |  Soapbox

For Pride Month, Ali Roseberry-Polier takes a look at Frank Rizzo's legacy of aggression towards Philly's LGBT community and opines why his divisive monument should be moved > more

Docomomo PHL To Host

Docomomo PHL To Host “Wake” For Modernist Store

June 18, 2018  |  News

Modernist architecture advocacy group will hold a demonstration to protest Philadelphia's historic preservation crisis. Michael Bixler has the details > more

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad's Opera Palace

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad’s Opera Palace

June 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Rob McClung takes us on a journey through the turbulent history and present reawakening of the mighty Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar > more

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

June 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Mariam Williams dives deep into the social evolution of Malcolm X Park to unearth the history of race and economics within a neighborhood space > more

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

June 8, 2018  |  Vantage

The Italian Market Project mixes a walking tour with Philly-accented theater in a fun, immersive experience. Mickey Herr has the details > more