Historical Commission’s Architecture Committee approves two Old City projects

The Architectural Committee of the Historical Commission Tuesday recommended approval of a mixed-use project that seeks to unite a diverse assortment of eight vernacular buildings that span the corners of 2nd and Arch streets. One building, 105 N. 2nd St., is individually designated; while the entire parcel sits inside the Old City Historic District.

Long a beloved staple of the neighborhood, the complex once housed Trenton China Pottery, a wholesaler of restaurant supplies and equipment. It is well-recognized for the faded signage painted on its 2nd street side.

In reviewing the applicants’ proposal, Committee members said their approval was contingent on keeping both the sign and a group of fire escapes (provided they were deemed structurally sound) on the Arch Street side.

Committee member Shawn Evans termed the painted sign as the “most charming part of the [site] and absolutely representative of the Old City district.” Committee member Nan Gutterman also expressed concern about the implications of taking the individual buildings and combinng them as a unit. While praising the notion as a good one internally, she emphasized that the “outside envelope needs to be maintained for each building.”

The Committee also recommended approval for a smaller project around the corner on north Front St. Commission staffer Randal Baron said the building, a merchant’s house from 1785, was “highly significant,” and singled out its extant crank to hoist merchandise to its top floor, and its original counting room. The applicant, a prospective buyer, is seeking to convert the vacant building into use as his own home, plus as rental apartments.

The rest of the relatively short meeting addressed several residential projects in the Rittenhouse Fitler, Spring Garden, and Girard Estates historic districts.

Contact the reporter at jgreco@planphilly.com and follow her on Twitter @joanngreco

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