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What Half a Million Buys in 5 Different Neighborhoods

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? First up we have a farmhouse estate in Elkins Park that's listed at $487,500. Between the four-story cottage and the three-story bank barn/woodworking shop/artist's loft, you have 5,000-plus square feet. That's to say nothing of the attic/two-car garage/whatever you want it to be. The cottage and barn were once part of an estate owned by a civil war major and official "breast-spreader" (see the listing for elaboration), and was then sold to capitalist scion Peter A.B. Widener. It's on one acre of land and is designed with a separate wing with its own entrance that can be used as a professional office. It'd be perfect for therapists. Hidden at the end of a long driveway ... in Elkins Park ... a private entrance ... anonymity assured.

? Moving eastward, there's a two-bedroom apartment on lovely Clinton Street for $499,000 (reduced from $515,000 last week). It's being listed as a "penthouse condo," which seems a little funny in a building with three stories, but the apartment does have 14-foot palladian windows, which are very striking. As befits a brownstone, there are hardwood floors and built-in bookcases. But as befits modern life, there's a custom California Closet and a washer/dryer in the unit. On-site parking is available for a monthly fee. You get less square footage with this home—around 1,500—but the street's the thing.

? Next up we have a three-story townhome on 19th Street between Washington and Carpenter. Unlike the farmhouse with its multilevel barn, this 3,000 square-foot house's floorplan is fairly straightforward, though the second floor with the kitchen/dining/living areas is an open plan. Otherwise, you've got three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a finished basement and garage. Home warranty and eight-year tax abatement included, as well as a roof deck and "cozy" gas fireplace. This'll set you back $495,000.

? Now we're headed west (sorry for the whiplash) to Cedar Park and 45th and Chester, where there's a Queen Anne home designed by Willis Hale for $499,000. Like so many homes in this part of West Philadelphia, this five-bedroom built in 1892 is spacious (3,142 square feet), retains period details and has plenty of outdoor space. Of course there's a front porch with a swing, as is de riguer in the neighborhood, but there's also a 30-foot deep landscaped garden in the back. There's ample street parking, but the house is actually on the trolley line that goes right to City Hall. Speaking of whiplash, Willis Hale is the architect who designed the Peter A.B. Widener mansion at Broad and Girard—yes, the same Peter A.B. Widener who owned the farmhouse estate in Elkins Park that we featured as our first item!

? And now we're downtown, on the Avenue of the Arts. Forget that the Inquirer invoked a Pepto Bismol bottle when talking about this building; Symphony House has unparalleled amenities if you're willing to sacrifice a little on space. Yes, this apartment is only 948 square feet, but it has a balcony, garage parking, 24-hour doorman, indoor lap pool, spa, fitness room, library, lounge, private catering kitchen and wine storage. There are two restaurants in the building—including the raved-about Sbraga—and extreme proximity to the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home of the Philadelphia Theatre Co. It can all be yours for $490,000.

Symphony House

440 Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA 19146 Visit Website