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Chestnut Hill Fighting to Preserve Its Architectural History

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Residents of Chestnut Hill are struggling to save a historically significant building— even though it has been deemed structurally sound. The building in question, located at 415 West Moreland Avenue, is actually a single family home designed in the Colonial Revival style by Philly's own Charles Barton Keen in 1910. Blake Development Corporation, the developer on the project, has been working with the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA) to find a solution, but they contend it simply isn't financially viable to restore the interior of the structure that hasn't been properly maintained. While they've apparently admitted the building is sound, their plan is to demolish the house and subdivide the property for two new homes. Hoping to preserve the rich traditions of Chestnut Hill's historic architecture, with it being a National Historic District and all, the CHCA has started a petition in opposition of the demolition.

It's a serious battle and, as pointed out in a recent e-newsletter from the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, there could be a domino effect should this demolition go through as planned (emphasis is ours):
Several years ago, a survey was conducted to determine how many of the approximately 2,800 residential properties in Chestnut Hill are vulnerable to this kind of demolition and subdivision by right under Philadelphia's zoning code. The answer is breath-taking: roughly 1,400 properties could be affected. If even a small portion of these properties were re-developed, the unique character of Chestnut Hill could be lost forever. Talks are ongoing with Blake Development in the hopes that they can come to a solution that involves preserving the building, be it a new buyer who will restore the property or conservation/preservation easements that have "charitable contribution benefits." It's important to note that Blake Development Corporation has a strong portfolio of historic renovations. As Chestnut Hill Local reports, the original intention was to restore the property. Citing mold issues, ancient electrical wiring and roof and exterior stucco issues, owner Sam Blake says he has now choice but to more forward with the demolition. "I've been doing this a long time and I know what I see," Blake said. "And what I see is a house beyond repair."
· CHCA joins CHHS in opposing historic home demolition [Chestnut Hill Local]
· Preservation Watch Coverage [Curbed Philly]
· Historic Preservation Coverage [Curbed Philly]