Newer and taller is the big development trend in Logan Square, with a 14-story apartment building under construction at 19th and Arch Streets and now Comcast’s skyscraper announced Wednesday, planned for the surface lot across the street.
That trend may claim a historic brownstone as its latest victim: 1924 Arch Street, known as the Francis McIlvain House, received a demolition notice last week.
The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the adjacent lot were acquired in December by PMC Property Group, the developer of 1900 Arch rising next door. The sale price for both properties was $2.1 million according to public records. The nonprofit Energy Coordinating Agency occupied the building before relocating its offices to its LEED Gold facility on Clearfield Street in Kensington.
The demolition notice does not show the earliest date on which the building can be torn down; the original date, which appears to read “1-31-14,” is crossed out. The Department of Licenses and Inspections typically requires a 21-day period for notifying near neighbors of demolition activity.
The Second Empire house was built in 1869 as the home of foundry owner Francis McIlvain, and was also the residence of his son-in-law, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin publisher Ferdinand Fetherston. When it was added to the National Register in 1979, the house was cited as a rare surviving example of the neighborhood’s 19th-century middle class residences.
However, the listing, which enabled a tax-credit rehabilitation of the property, does not preclude demolition as a local historic designation would.
Logan Square Neighborhood Association president David Searles called the news “a shame” and said he was looking into the matter. “It is a wonderful building and a piece of historic fabric whether listed or not,” he said.
In 2008, neighbors campaigned unsuccessfully to save the 1860s Fernley & Fernley Building at the corner of 19th and Arch from demolition. A historic nomination was submitted but deemed incomplete by the Historical Commission, and PMC proceeded to knock it down. The lot remained vacant until PMC broke ground on 1900 Arch last year.
PMC senior vice president Arrus Farmer declined comment, citing official company policy.