It was too late to save one rowhome on Chestnut Street in University City from demolition, but locals managed to preserve another set of Italianate twin homes on Friday when the Philadelphia Historical Commission deemed the 4050 and 4052 Chestnut properties historic.
The two homes are Italianate red-brick twins that were built by developer Thomas Powers in the 1870s. The set was nominated by historian Aaron Wunsch, who wrote:
The restrained brick twins that Thomas H. Powers erected on the 4000 block of Chestnut Street in the early to mid-1870s represent a careful calculation on the part of their sponsor. Served by the recently completed Philadelphia City Horse Car Passenger Railway, which terminated one block to the west, these houses aimed to accommodate the sorts of white-collar commuters whose influx into West Philadelphia had fueled suburban development in the area for the last two decades.
Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the commission voted to add the two properties to the register, but did not make a decision on its neighbors at 4046-48 Street. The current owners of that property pulled demo permits back in March, and then the University City Historical Society nominated the sites for historic designation in May. There’s currently a temporary injunction against the demo until a decision is made.
The nominations for this row of homes come after residents noticed that one of the Powers properties, 4042-44 had been demolished earlier this year. Now in its place, next to the University of Pennsylvania Police Station, is a new apartment building.