Do Historic Districts Add Up?

story by Stefan Kamph

With the Overbrook Farms district designation still in dispute and other potential Philadelphia districts, including Washington Square West, in bureaucratic limbo, Stefan Kamph weighs the economic evidence. This article is a follow up to yesterday's Overbook Farms' piece (also written by Kamph), which is part of a special editorial partnership with Hidden City Daily on preservation in Philadelphia. Like what you read? Check out the full March 2013 issue and visit Hidden City for more stories on the inspiring preservation work being done in Philadelphia. 

The 5900 block of Drexel Road in the Overbrook Farms neighborhood. | Photo by Peter WoodallFor years, advocates of historic preservation have been working to get the far West Philly turn-of-the-century neighborhood of Overbrook Farms designated a “historic district” on the City’s Register of Historic Places. This would complement the neighborhood’s place on the National Register, and impose restrictions on renovation and demolition. The city would review and approve any structural or cosmetic changes that residents wanted to make to their homes.

The effort has been at a standstill since September 2011, when a group of residents began to protest what they saw as too much government intervention on private property. The strongest complaint was economic: not everybody in the area, these opponents said, would be able to afford the financial burden of maintaining a circa-1900 home.

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Historical Dispute: Will the stalled designation of Overbrook Farms be resolved?

story by Stefan Kamph  photos by Albert Yee

This article is part of a special editorial partnership with Hidden City Daily on preservation in Philadelphia. Like what you read? Check out the full March 2013 issue and visit Hidden City for more stories on the inspiring preservation work being done in Philadelphia. And for more about Overbook Farms, come back tomorrow to read a new article from Stefan Kamph on measuring the economic impact of historic districts.

Nearly every detail—interior and exterior—of Larry and Jean Andreozzi’s 10-bedroom house is precisely restored, as if time hadn’t touched the home since it was built in 1894. Actually much of Overbrook Farms, the West Philadelphia neighborhood tucked along the city’s border with Montgomery County, feels a lot like it did when tycoons, politicians and industrialists built it as the first Main Line suburb in the late 19th century. Stone houses with gables and manicured lawns sit on quiet, tree-lined streets. “The houses had their own individual architects, marvelous craftsmanship, and marvelous building materials,” says Andreozzi, standing near a door frame of quarter-sawn oak that he’s lovingly restored. Andreozzi is a master woodworker, and for the past 15 years this house has been his hobby.

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Cover Story: A Natural Fit

The ultimate vision of an eco-friendly and educational urban oasis
by Natalie Hope McDonald

The sounds along Lancaster Ave. in West Philadelphia’s Overbrook neighborhood don’t usually include chirping. But on one overcast day in May, across the street from the U-Haul rental center and footsteps from a fruit and vegetable bodega, a small red-breasted bird whistled over the rattle and hum of traffic on this, one of the city’s long-forgotten corridors.
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