Left To The Archeologists

 

Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

After succumbing in a mini-neighborhood controversy to the wishes of yet another unimaginative developer–can anyone name a well-designed Bella Vista house built this century?–David Guinn’s much revered mural “Autumn (a.k.a Your House in the Forest)” at Ninth and Bainbridge is about to be obliterated in its entirety. Scaffolding and chicken wire are up over the remaining section of the painting. That means the stucco artisans are their way.

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (with Peter Woodall and Joseph E.B. Elliott) and two novels, Everything is Borrowed and Lion and Leopard. He is co-editor of Who Will Speak for America, an anthology forthcoming in June 2018, and the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



4 Comments


  1. Succumbing? The could have built the house by right and the ZBA granted the parking variance. Would not succumbing mean taking it to court and losing? Would it have meant sitting on the surface parking lot until the police came?

    Yes it’s an ugly house but what the hell do you think people should have done about it?

    • Well, yes, the mural did succumb to the developer building the house. Nothing more was implied.
      If you read my original article on the issue, you’ll see I wasn’t fundamentally opposed to developing the lot (quite a lot of other people were). What I was opposed to was another wasted opportunity to build something imaginative on a major corner in the neighborhood. Very few people even wondered why a mixed-use commercial-residential project wasn’t insisted on–it would have been in most other cities, where planners would have seen the opportunity to create more value and better quality of life for residents.

      • Yes, because the NIMBY opposition wouldn’t have been nearly as strong to that.

      • It wasn’t insisted on because it was an R10 parcel. Commercial would have been great but the project is what it is because it was almost by right. I’ll agree that it is a disappointment. I think as in most cases this isn’t a case of a bad variance or something wrong with the developer but of poor mapping of parcels. This corner should have been commercial just like the other two at the intersection.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
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 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

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

June 6, 2018  |  Soapbox

Ali Roseberry-Polier discusses civil rights history, selective public memory, and why she created an historical marker for a Black female activist who challenged segregation in 19th century Philadelphia > more