Historic Presser building re-opens as senior citizen apartments

Eighth District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller joined Mayor Michael Nutter today to celebrate the opening of Presser Senior Apartments in Mt. Airy. The restored historic building is located at 101 West Johnson St.

The development, which was supported in part by federal stimulus funds, restored a 1914 historic property at risk of demolition into 45 mixed-income apartments for seniors.

Presser Senior Apartments was recently awarded a Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia Grand Jury Award for successfully maintaining the historic integrity of the building while adding modern amenities and energy efficient features during the restoration.

Originally commissioned by sheet music publisher and philanthropist Theodore Presser, the Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers is a grand 52,248 square foot building that once housed those who dedicated their lives to music. The building became vacant in 2002, suffered significant deterioration and was a candidate for demolition under plans of prior owners. A coalition of community groups formed to prevent the demolition, and in 2005 they succeeded in adding the Presser Home to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Nolen Properties acquired the property in 2006 with the promise to restore it to its original beauty while using the structures in a manner pleasing to the neighbors. The development preserves a cornerstone building in the Philadelphia City Planning Commission 2004 Mt. Airy Neighborhood Plan and has set the stage for the restoration of the adjacent Nugent building, also to become senior affordable housing.

Councilwoman Miller said, “The significant history of this community is one of the reasons it is so special. I commend Nolen Properties, not just for preserving an important cornerstone building, but also for listening to the residents of this neighborhood.”

The development preserved the entire original structure, including the masonry bearing walls, reinforced concrete floors and its built-up roof and significant historic parapet. The renovation of the exterior maintained the historic fabric of the original building, restoring the Italian Renaissance style smooth buff roman brick, limestone and terra cotta trim.

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