Applause broke out at the Central Roxborough Civic Association on Thursday when president Don Simon shared the news that the historic Benjamin Kenworthy House, located at 365 Green Lane, has been accepted for consideration as a historic designation under the Philadelphia Historic Commission.
The house has been in the spotlight after developer Todd Joseph bought the property in December 2013 with the intention to demolish the historic Victorian to build condo units.
Zoning issues have caused delays in Joseph’s plan, but haven’t stopped him from attempting small-scale demolition. And as vigilant neighbors keep a watchful eye on the property, they say they are witnessing Joseph allowing the home fall into a state of disrepair.
In an effort to save the home, local residents Celeste Hardester and John Manton, with support from neighbors and the CRCA, wrote an official proposal to the Historical Commission.
A letter (PDF) sent to Joseph from the commission, dated Sept. 30, announced the nomination stating:
“The Philadelphia Historical Commission, the City of Philadelphia’s historic preservation agency, is pleased to inform you that your property at 365 Green Lane has been proposed for designation as an historic landmark and inclusion on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
The Historical Commission seeks to safeguard the city’s unique heritage and wealth of cultural resources as it encourages economic development, promotes healthy and sustainable communities, enhances property values, attracts new residents, businesses, and tourists, provides educational opportunities, and fosters civic pride…
The Historical Commission will consider the proposal, called a nomination, to designate your property at 365 Green Lane as historic at two public meetings. The Historical Commission’s advisory Committee on Historic Designation will consider the nomination at its meeting on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 9:30 a.m. in the Commission’s offices, Room 578, City Hall. The Historical Commission will consider the nomination and its advisory committee’s recommendation at its regular monthly meeting on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 18-029, 1515 Arch Street, a City office building also known as the One Parkway Building…
The Historical Commission begins to exercise jurisdiction over the subject property as of the date of this letter. If the Historical Commission votes to designate the property as historic, its jurisdiction continues; if it rejects the nomination, its jurisdiction lapses as of the vote.”
Until voting occurs, no further demolition may be done to the property. For Celeste Hardester and the rest of the community, this nomination is a timely and important step.
“It helps preserve and protect the existence of the house,” Hardester says. “And that is something that is important to the community.”