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 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 senior program manager 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
Jefferson Makes Room For Modernism With New Preservation Program

Jefferson Makes Room For Modernism With New Preservation Program

January 4, 2019  |  News

Jefferson University brings Modernist architecture to the forefront with their new historic preservation program and center for studies. Michael Bixler has the news > more

House Museum In North Philly Plans Monument For Former Slave

House Museum In North Philly Plans Monument For Former Slave

January 3, 2019  |  Vantage

Stenton, the former plantation house in Logan, prepares to honor Dinah with their new project, Inequality in Bronze. Keshler Thibert has the details > more

Lost Buildings of 2018

Lost Buildings of 2018

December 27, 2018  |  News

Philadelphia's preservation crisis reached a critical high in 2018 with a record-breaking number of demolition permits approved by the City. Here we highlight some of the biggest loses to our built environment in our annual end-of-year list > more

Having A Good One This Holiday Season In Philadelphia

Having A Good One This Holiday Season In Philadelphia

December 21, 2018  |  Last Light

Seasons Greetings from Hidden City! Michael Bixler dives deep into the archives and brings back a bounty of Philly holiday cheer > more

Best Architecture, Urban Design, & Public Art Of 2018

Best Architecture, Urban Design, & Public Art Of 2018

December 20, 2018  |  Vantage

It was a banner year for architecture, art, adaptive reuse, and design. JoAnn Greco shines a light on Philly's best projects of 2018 > more

New Book On W.E.B. Du Bois Colors In

New Book On W.E.B. Du Bois Colors In “White Space”

December 18, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

The pioneering research of W.E.B. Du Bois on race, class, and data collection are on display in a strikingly visual new volume, "W.E.B. Du Bois's Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America." Joe Brin has this book review > more