A couple of readers have reached out in recent weeks, wondering and worrying about some scaffolding that’s currently in place at 838-42 Christian St., just a couple of steps away from the Italian Market. We remember visiting the market a decade ago and wondering how it was possible that these buildings could be in such deplorable condition so close to a tourist mecca. When Good Fortune Investments bought the properties about five years ago, they clearly put some serious dollars into renovating them, but it seems something went wrong with the bay windows.
Low-res view, prior to renovation
View in 2011 shows new facades with much less personality
View the other day
If you look carefully, you can spot a Stop Work Order in the photo above. According to Rebecca Swanson at…
601 S. Broad St. stands where South Street and the Avenue of the Arts converge. Naturally, therefore, this has been the scene of major action over the years. According to the earliest available documentation, the Southwestern National Bank occupied that Southeastern corner of Broad & South. (We assume somebody was holding the compass upside down when they named it).
According to the site Antique Bank Notes, the bank began printing bills when it gained its charter 1886. The bank is shown, here below, in G.W. Bromley’s 1910 Philadelphia Atlas.
Southwestern National Bank, 1910
For the next several decades, as the U.S. economy boomed, so did printing at the Southwestern Bank. According to Antique Money, the bank printed $1,489,510 over its lifespan. Adjusted for inflation that’s, like, way more money. The Department of Records photo here below, taken in 1927, features two happy looking bankers, blissfully unaware of what awaits them.
Bankers with no idea
While this is more of a side dish than a meaty main course of development news, a three-story home on Washington Ave. just east of the Italian Market is getting a makeover. But when looked at in the context of other one-off improvements and developments in the immediate vicinity, the renovation of 725 Washington Ave. becomes part of a bigger story.
In the past
Over the past few years, its exterior had slowly meandered to a worn state. But the old facade has been replaced in recent months, and the ground-floor has been changed over to an office use. Perhaps the fact the property was purchased last October for $225K led to the renovations, which are also slowly happening at other spots in this neighborhood.
With the new facade, cornice continuity is gone
Nearby, a new building…
Years ago, some friends lived in two different units located in a little courtyard, hidden off a side street in Bella Vista. They’ve long since moved out, but we never forgot how cool these spots were and how much fun we had at their courtyard parties. What we did forget, though, was exactly where these apartments were located. Until the other day that is, when we stumbled onto them again on the 700 block of S. Darien St.
700 block of Darien
So very unexpected
On the north side of the courtyard are four trinities. A couple have turned over in recent years, with old listings telling us that the homes are under 600 sqft in size. That seems to jive with our recollections of what the homes were like inside- tight. On the south side are…
If you don’t live in Queen Village, Bella Vista or Hawthorne, you’ve probably never heard of little Hall Street, which runs east-west between Montrose and Carpenter Streets. It’s one of those streets that appears and then disappears willy nilly, only to reappear a few blocks later and then dead end. The 1100 block of Hall only has about a dozen addresses, and can only be accessed via Montrose Street.
Another notable feature of this block is that dozens of people take advantage of vacant City-owned lots to park their cars. Huge lots on both the north and south side of the street were filled with cars when we stopped by the other day. But it seems that some of the folks enjoying this unexpected amenity will soon have to find a new place to put their vehicle.
The southwest corner of 10th and Fitzwater is relatively inconspicuous today, standing across from a far more noticeable corner occupied by popular brunch spot Sam’s Morning Glory Diner and diagonal from the Palumbo Playground. But at one time, this corner was occupied by quite the imposing structure. Starting with its opening in 1872, The Maternity Hospital of Philadelphia served expectant mothers in the Bella Vista neighborhood. G.W. Bromley’s Philadelphia Atlas from 1895 confirms that the Maternity Hospital was listed at 734 S. 10th Street.
The Maternity Hospital of Philadelphia in 1895
According to the Tyrone Daily Herald, the Maternity Hospital “was one of the leading institutions of its kind In Philadelphia.” The photo here below, taken from the Philadelphia Free Library, shows the Maternity Hospital in what is most likely the earliest part of the 20th century.
Probably haunted Maternity Hospital in the early