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Historic fire house on Belmont Avenue needs lots of work, asks $175K

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It was just added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places

A dilapidated, old fire house on Belmont Avenue that was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places last month is on the market for $175,000.

The Italianate Renaissance Revival building has always stood out on the wide and busy avenue, which is mostly lined with simple brick rowhomes. Turns out it was designed in 1895 by John T. Windrim, who is known for playing a hand in the Wanamaker Building (now Macy’s) and the Family Court Building in Center City, as well as dozens of other fire houses throughout Philadelphia.

The three-story fire house was constructed for $25,000 and named the Fire House of Engine Company No. 16. A description of the building’s layout, included in the historical nomination, reveals that the first floor was used for "apparatus and stables for the horses." The second floor served as a sleeping area for the firemen, and there were hardwood floors and carpeting throughout.

It had a good run until the 1950s, when new, bigger and better equipment and firetrucks could no longer fit in the building. The city closed the firehouse in 1968 and sold it to a local congregation about a decade later.

Today, it’s basically a shell of a buildling that has been on and off the market since December 2015 when it first listed for $250,000. Public records show that a company called Goldbind Firehouse, LLC bought the property as recently as this past March for $115,000, before putting it back on the market again in June with a higher price tag.

The Philadelphia Historical Commission voted unanimously to add the building to the register in July, nothing that "the character-defining features of the Windrim design are present, including the oversized City shield in the keystone over the doorway on the south side."

It may need plenty of work, but $175,000 doesn’t sound too bad for a historic 6,000-square-foot property. It could make for a pretty interesting adaptive reuse project.