Learn How To Protect This Building (And Others)

 

West Philadelphia Title & Trust, 40th and Lancaster | Photo: Ben Leech

West Philadelphia Title & Trust, 40th and Lancaster | Photo: Ben Leech

America’s system of historic preservation is a motley patchwork, with each city creating its own set of statutes and systems for adminstration. In Chicago and New York City, large professional staffs create all nominations for the local historic register; in Philadelphia, the Historical Commission’s small staff has led to a cobbled-together system for adding properties to the historic register that relies in part on private efforts. The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia writes most new nominations, with Historical Commission staff, CDCs and other community groups occasionally getting in on the act.

And unlike Chicago and New York, individual citizens can create a nomination, an unusually democratic opportunity that is seized all too rarely because nominations are fairly technical and time consuming. But they aren’t impossibly complicated for people with good research and writing skills, especially with a bit of tutoring, which is why we’ve put together a workshop on Wednesday, January 16th led by the Preservation Alliance’s Ben Leech that will outline how to create a nomination. To sign up for the free workshop, click HERE. We’re also going to put theory into practice and work up a real nomination for the West Philadelphia Title & Trust Building on 40th and Lancaster Streets.

West Philadelphia Title & Trust in 2008  | Photo: Courtesy James Wright, People's Emergency Center

West Philadelphia Title & Trust in 2008 | Photo: Courtesy James Wright, People’s Emergency Center

The former bank is not in danger of being demolished, and that’s a good thing–we don’t want to race against the clock the first time around. Indeed, the circa 1897 building designed by architect Walter Smedley has had a rebirth of sorts recently thanks to the efforts of the People’s Emergency Center. The group worked with the building’s owner to remove the massive billboard that was obscuring the ornate decorations that capped the facade. A number of smaller signs were taken down, too, and the brickwork cleaned and repointed. Putting the building on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places would not only protect it from being demolished, but also prevent a return to the clutter of signage.

To sign up for the free workshop, click HERE.

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.



1 Comment


  1. this really needs to be tailor to the city of Philadelphia in someways however other cities like Philadelphia can take much needed cues on how to save history. North Philadelphia like other cities is fighting the “dollar store wars.” Its very suspect when a old building needs to be torn down to only be followed by: a dollar store. The trendy neighborhoods would never stand for this so why should North Phila? I’ve been around the world and there is only ONE Philadelphia I’m not sure people understand this?

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

February 19, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow waltzes through the history of an old auto dealership in South Philly that has been a hub of classical dance training for over 30 years > more

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania's Original Turnpike

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania’s Original Turnpike

February 16, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

As Phase One of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park sets to open this spring, Harry K. takes us on a ride along the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, one of the earliest railroads in America > more

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

February 15, 2018  |  Buzz

Michael Bixler takes us on a stroll down the newest segment of the Schuylkill River Trail > more

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

February 14, 2018  |  News

Missing for decades, two signature sculptures come home to Fairmount Water Works. A. Leonard Pundt has the details on how conservation efforts and carefully-crafted reproductions brought the iconic public artwork back to life > more

Discovering My Family's Place In The Workshop Of The World

Discovering My Family’s Place In The Workshop Of The World

February 12, 2018  |  Vantage

In Port Richmond, Amy Cohen has a chance encounter with her family's industrial past when she happens upon a sign for her grandfather's old business, the Philadelphia Rust-Proof Company > more

Smiling In South Philly At The Eagles Super Bowl Parade

Smiling In South Philly At The Eagles Super Bowl Parade

February 8, 2018  |  Last Light

Michael Bixler dives into the crowd down in South Philly at the Eagles parade with this photo essay > more