A reader checked in the other day, wondering about 2200 E Norris St., a large and handsome old building in Fishtown. We’ve passed by this building many times over the years, impressed by its appearance and wondering about its history. A phone number on the side of the building provided us with a way to solve the mystery.
From the east
We spoke to Greg Traceski, the current owner of the building, and discovered the vast and interesting history of this gem of a building. According to Traceski, it was originally built in 1860 as firehouse owned by an insurance company, as Philadelphia had not yet incorporated official fire companies. After about a decade, however, the building contained a Philadelphia Fire House, Hook and Ladder C.
After some years as a fire house, the first floor became the Fishtown Post Office for several years. After that, it contained Dreifus & Co., which sold World War 1 surplus army gear. Finally, in 1950, Traceski’s father and grandfather moved into the building and established a motor repair company that still operates to this day.
Sign for the motor shop
In addition to the primary uses listed above, the building had other uses through the years, both downstairs and on the upper floors. Traceski indicated that the building was used as a meeting place for Grand Army of the Republic veterans, a speakeasy (many of the wooden doors have peepholes), a brothel, a meeting hall for other fraternal organizations, and a theater. Since the motor shop moved in, the upper floors contained light manufacturing and offices, including a sponge company, cough drop importers, and Acorn Canvas.
Closer look at the first floor facade
The building has quietly been on the market for about a year. Traceski is looking for $1.25M for the building, two vacant lots, and a garage with an apartment above that sits next door. Hopefully, a developer will step up sometime soon to redevelop this property into something new and exciting, while maintaining the building’s historic look. We’re thinking that three floors of residential above a large and exciting commercial use could be the way to go.
So… anyone wanna make a little investment?