2013 Historic Preservation Review
Another Germantown property that is central to the history of Pennsylvania – James Logan’s 1730 country mansion and farm, Stenton -- is undergoing the first steps of a renovation that will reflect 100 years of change at the site and reconnect the property with the surrounding community. The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the group that has maintained the historic home and gardens, has hired landscape designer Claudia Levy to revive the greater landscape to its 18th and 19th century styles.
Battle of the Boyd
In the fall, a new suitor began courting the city and the preservation community with a plan to bring life back to the long-languishing Boyd Theater, 1910 Chestnut Street. The Florida-based iPic Entertainment company hopes to bring its plan for an eight-auditorium, luxury-seat movie complex before the Philadelphia Historical Commission in December. The plan would restore the Boyd façade to its original 1928 design, but the Art Deco auditorium and interior details would be lost in the makeover.
The Preservation Alliance and the Friends of the Boyd plan a wall of opposition to iPic’s plan. But the movie chain company says its proposal is the only financially viable alternative for the historic movie palace.
Exploring gray areas
A group of historians, architects and related professionals, who began innovative conversations about preservation in 2011 with funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, have taken their academic experiment on the road. Under the name “Gray Area,” the team is now focusing on three buildings in Philadelphia as laboratories to explore the boundaries of historic preservation and its value to the neighborhoods.
The traveling experiment began this fall in Germantown, where the test subject was the Max Levy Autography Company building near Wayne Junction. By engaging neighbors’ concerns and hopes for the building, then overlaying design strategies that could repurpose and transform the site, the project hopes to create a toolkit that will protect the building and benefit the surrounding the community. The next phase of Gray Area will look at Hawthorne Hall, a commercial building in West Philadelphia, and the Bromley-Garsed Mansion, the former YMCA in Frankford, as the program continues through July 2014.
Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”