Residential conversion likely for Antiquarian’s Delight, former synagogue

As Passyunk Post reported this week, The Antiquarian’s Delight, once a treasure trove of vintage vendors, is closing. The antique/vintage mart has occupied the former synagogue on 6th Street between South and Bainbridge since 1985 and will officially close its doors later this month. The building was sold late last year for $1.1 million according to city property records.

Anyone who has visited The Antiquarian’s Delight recently has likely noticed it’s been struggling. A small exodus of vendors a few years ago made the place feel empty and the manager started requesting a $1 admission fee from would-be patrons in order to set foot in the building.

When I knocked on the door this week to inquire about the building’s future, the man answering the door again requested a $1 fee. I didn’t pay, but I did speak with the gentlemen minding the store, who declined to give their names. They stated that Antiquarian’s Delight would officially close on July 21 after 28 years in business, saying only that increased taxes are what got to them. The building’s new owners, they said, plan to convert the building to residential units. 

Property Philly reports those new owners are members of the Fetfatzes family that also own the Bainbridge Street Barrel House two doors down from Antiquarian’s Delight, in addition to Bella Vista Beer Distributor and Hawthorne’s on South 11th Street. 

Like the business, the building has deteriorated. These days the windows that aren’t bricked in are hanging by a thread, the metal onion domes are a mess, and weed tress grow strong through the masonry.

Sadly, the interior isn’t faring much better. Stacy Fahnestock, co-owner of Anastacia’s Antiques around the corner on Bainbridge, told me she was recently in the building’s upper story, which has long been left open to the elements and critters thanks to broken windows. Up there a small mountain of would-be merchandise is covered with years worth of pigeon guano, as well as dead and decaying pigeons. It’s a haz-mat suit-worthy cleanup job.

Once the new owners get past that, here’s hoping they’ll do something productive with the building that honors its character and interesting past. The property is not listed in the Philadelphia or National Registers of Historic Places, making significant (hopefully sympathetic) renovations possible.

The building was designed by architects Bolton & Dull for Congregation Chevra B’nai Reuben, Anshe Sfard, the city’s first Hassidic congregation, in the heart of a burgeoning Jewish community at the turn of the 20th century. The congregation began using the building in 1905 and stayed for 50 years. It sold the property in 1956, when much of South Philadephia’s Jewish community was leaving for other neighborhoods. Since then the building changed hands a few more times until it became the antique mart in 1985. 

Fingers crossed for a brighter future for this interesting property.

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