Favorite Spot: I have a lot of favorite spots, but for this, I’ll choose Jefferson Square (a park)
Address: Between 3d and 4th Streets, between Washington and Federal
I am: A biologist – I do a number of different things professionally, but in this context, I’m an urban ecologistYears in Philly: I was born here
Current home: Currently living in South Street area (but moving soon – to either Germantown or Manayunk)
My Love Note: My father used to live around the corner from Jefferson Square, but I never went there – it was a bit chaotic, and it was also just simply off my radar. After having moved back to Philadelphia (I was away for 9 years, moved back 2 years ago), I went over there and was amazed how much it had changed – clean, well kept – great place to go. And really nice plantings – some quite old, some quite young. There’s a beautiful Kentucky coffee tree in the northeastern quadrant of the park – you can identify it by the big bean-looking pods hanging from it – it was there when that neighborhood had heavy industry (there used to be an iron foundry in the next block over, between 4th and 5th streets) and more cemeteries (the Union Burial Ground was 2 blocks over – it was a good sized cemetery – you can still see its walls, one of them lining the parking lot of the supermarket at 6th between Washington and Federal). Now, that tree is a shade tree in a residential neighborhood. It’s seen the changes, and stood the times.
Whenever I bike from Fishtown back to S. Philly, I find myself biking down Moyamensing. I can never remember why I’ve chosen to make that turn until I see the house at 1011, one of the few remaining clapboard houses left in the city. One day I finally stopped to take some pictures just as the owner was walking home. She told me a bit about the history, but I wanted to find out more. I’m taking advantage of having my own blog to document my attempts to learn about this house.
Part 1: The house has historic designation and is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Hoping that this would lead me to the home’s history, I took an extended lunch break to wander City Hall looking for the Historical Commission. Once there, I was handed a thin manilla envelope with documents showing the date that the homeowners registered for the historic plaque (1990) and the approvals for renovations in the late 1970s. That was it. No history, no build date, nothing else. I was told that the next step will be to establish a deed chain through the City Archives. Hopefully another extended lunch break will come in the next few weeks and I can learn (and write) a bit more about this unique home.