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Live from 215: Poplar's William Penn High School Open House

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It's Monday, May 19, and that marks the beginning of a different kind of open house season—recently shuttered Philadelphia school buildings! Over the next few weeks, the School District of Philadelphia, through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), is opening the doors of 20 schools in the hopes to entice potential buyers to redevelop these vacant properties, some of which are located in Philly's hottest 'hoods. Two of the most expensive properties will be showcased today: William Penn High School, located at 1301 North Broad Street and valued at $15 million, and Walter Smith, located at 1300 South 19th Street in Point Breeze and coming in at $3 million.

Want to experience an open house for a $15 million property? Come along, friends, we're liveblogging from William Penn High School in about 30 minutes.

8:47am - a crowd of around 20 or so people has arrived to tour the school. It's a beautiful day on North Broad.The building engineer gave the group a brief rundown of the building and now it's time to sign some waivers.

9:03am - It's official, I'm going back to school!


9:06am - Thomas Dalfo, Sr VP of Real Estate Service with PIDC, just gave me to go ahead that pictures of the inside of the building are good to go. We're doing this, people!

913am - we're in the expansive lobby, which is now used as a storage facility. Intricate mosaics line the staircase.

9:23am - Assembly time! This large auditorium seats almost 500 people.

926am - One last look at the lobby.

928am - Yeah, um, about that homework...

932am - I've found Wilt Chamberlain in an enormous, angular room that looks to house both kitchen and art supplies.

9:41am - It's time for science class. Peep the warning sign painted on the door.

9:43am - Hall pass: a view of Temple's brand new (and incredibly beautiful) Morgan Hall. It's so close that Dom Brown could throw a baseball from here and hit it. It's no wonder that Temple has multiple people on site today.

9:50am - Proof that I used the hall pass to go to the bathroom and not to wander around to take pictures of the inside of a $15m property.

9:54am - this place is so huge and full of crazy angles that I've gotten lost a few times...on a tour. Can you imagine trying to navigate your first day of High School here?

10:04am - I've wandered over to building two across the courtyard. So far, I'm the only one here. It's like The Breakfast Club, only abandoned.

10:15am - STARVING! I found the cafeteria, now for that whole awkward, where-to-sit conundrum.

10:17am - Finally, a familiar and comforting person to sit beside.

10:19am - Time to cook up some lunch ... wait.

10:23am - I'm back with the group! It's grown to over 30 people. We are in cafeteria number two, which is packed with old school books. Like the rest of the property, it's very angular and built room-within-room.

1029am - We're off to the boiler room, where we will definitely NOT be cutting class to smoke cigarettes with the janitor.

10:34am - bringing you up to speed: I've been through three of the four buildings in this behemoth on North Broad Street. I'm hoping to get into the athletic building, which houses a gymnasium and a defunct swimming pool.

This school also has an underground parking facility, so yeah, it's enormous.

10:37am - I sincerely hope this swimming pool is legit and not the Seniors pranking the new kid...

10:41am - a group of people are discussing a Man's recent trip to Los Angeles. Randy's Donuts, In n Out Burger and Roscoe's Chicken n Biscuits are being name dropped. My grumbling belly sounds break up the revelry.

10:47am - I just spoke with a William Penn alum from the class of 1979. She mentioned that she was often late to class because the school was so large.

10:50am - Oh hey, it's 6ABC's Vernon Odom interviewing people about the open house!

1055:am - We're heading over to the gym. Bill Fox from the school district tells me that this property goes all the way down to Girard Avenue.

11:01am - It's real! This totally makes up for the time we bought the keys to the pool off of the upper class men back in '01.

11:11am - the gym is in good shape and filled with all kinds of potential. That's a legit rock climbing wall.


11:18am - the gym has some other cool amenities, including three dance studios, a weight training area and areas for shuffleboard. It also has a tunnel system back to the other buildings.


11:43am - The underground parking garage includes over 200 spaces. It's kind of creepy, but we're all in this together.

11:56am - That's all for the tour of William Penn High School. The nuts and bolts of this property is the sheer size of the lot and the location on North Broad Street. It's easy to see why Temple University (among others) have so much interest in the school, even at $15 million.