3600 Lancaster Avenue Gets Review for Historic Nomination
Lancaster Mews, the three-story row of stores and dwellings on the 3600 block of Lancaster Avenue, is under threat for demolition by owners who intend to replace it with a modern building designed for high-density student housing. The row of buildings was built in the 1870s and contributes greatly to the Powelton Village neighborhood and the Victorian-era commercial corridor of Lancaster Avenue. The loss of Lancaster Mews would be a devastating blow to a neighborhood already fighting off a number of historic building teardowns. In an effort to protect the block, the Powelton Village Civic Association (PVCA), led by George Poulin, UCHS Board member and chair of PVCA Zoning, said PVCA had submitted an application for historic nomination (co-sponsored by PVCA and the UCHS). A final decision on the future of the block was postponed by the Philadelphia Historic Commission (PHC) until the fall to allow for meetings with residents of Powelton. The inclusion of 3600–3630 Lancaster on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places would prevent the demolition of the block, and that while the nomination is under review, permits for demolition cannot be issued.
4224 Baltimore Approved
The final design of 4224 Baltimore Avenue was approved by a narrow vote of 3–2 by the Zoning Board of Adjustments. The approved design is the end-result of three meetings with residents of Spruce Hill, will be situated on 1.1 acres of land on the southeast corner of 43rd and Baltimore Avenue. The mixed use building will contain 132 residents, a fitness center, 1,700 square feet of commercial space on the ground level, 60 parking spaces, and 50 spaces for bicycle storage. Despite objections from a few residents, the majority of Spruce Hill neighbors were in favor of the project. Additionally local organizations Spruce Hill Community Association, University City Historical Society, the Friends of Clark Park and the Civic Design Review all supported 4224 Baltimore Avenue. It is believed that the project will be a boon to the local economy, adding new businesses and new residents to Spruce Hill.
St. Francis de Sales and Guastavino
In May of this year William Whitaker of the Penn Architectural Archives hosted an exclusive tour inside the sanctuary and discussed the controversial Venturi Scott Brown project that incorporated Modernism into its traditional sacred space in 1968. The Byzantine style church was designed by Henry D. Dagit (1865–1929), a prominent Philadelphia architect who specialized in Catholic Church architecture. The foundation of the landmark church began in 1907 and was completed by 1911. To complete the beautiful interior of the church, Rafael Guastavino y Moreno was employed to design the intricate herringbone tile work.
Guastavino started out working as a tailor in Valencia, Spain. It could very be the inspiration of seeing herringbone patterns in the fabrics with which he worked with that inspired him to "knit" together tile construction for which he would become world-renowned. After settling in Woburn, Massachusetts, he improved and patented a traditional Catalan technique for using interlocking tiles and thin layers of special mortar to build arches and domes without requiring expensive temporary interior framework and bracing. This construction method was not well known in America, and his business prospered. Today, Guastavino’s tiles can be found on more than 600 buildings in 36 states. The 63-foot dome of St. Francis is unique among them because it has no copper or other roofing above it. The distinctive appearance of the colored dome has made it an icon in the Cedar Park neighborhood.