Nearly Untouched 1829 Townhouse in Historic Center City Philadelphia $550K


IT’S ALMOST BEYOND BELIEF, that a grand 1829 townhouse like this, now on the market (<- Sotheby’s listing with many more photos) for only $550K in a primo Philly neighborhood, should remain in such antique condition to the present day.

Not that the owner of 31 years, a craftsman, didn’t put a lot of work into it. He did, even hand-laying slate tiles on the pitched roof.

29175352_bigThe current condition reminds me of the Dennis Severs House , which I once toured n Spitalfields, London, and which was never even electrified — this Philly house has much new wiring and plumbing — or the aesthetic of designer John Dorian’s New York apartment, where cracked plaster and scuffed wide plank floors were cherished, not renovated into oblivion.

Can you imagine granite countertops and a marble bath in this house? Sheetrock walls and recessed lights? Horrors. Sacrilege! Someone buy it, please, and live in it the way it is — or don’t live in it, just let it be. It’s a perfect house to do nothing to.

I’m sort of kidding. I would need to undertake some restorative plasterwork of the walls and ceilings, and there’s only one half-bath operational at present. No doubt one could sink millions into it. On the other hand, look at the asking price.


recent post on Curbed Philly says the house was built by Joseph and Eliza Shoemaker, Jr., who used the ground floor as a drug store.

It’s at 1221 Pine Street on the corner of Camac Street in the Center City neighborhood of Washington Square Park. It’s over 2,600 square feet, with six bedrooms. Only one half-bath currently functions; another full bath is almost ready to go.

The house is zoned RSA-5 for residential or mixed-use, with a historic designation the requires consulting with the city’s Historic Commission.

“Restore to historic grandeur”? Maybe. I like it the way it is.


More description gleaned from the Sotheby’s listing:

City records report 2,643 square feet, but the house could be over 3,000 if you count the basement was dug out and expanded top floor.
The exterior has two working gas lanterns, brick sidewalks and an iron fence.
The home has four entrances on both Pine and Camac Streets. The first floor has an entry vestibule and three large rooms with 10-12′ ceilings.
The second floor has three rooms with two fireplaces, one marble. The third floor has three rooms, one with fireplace, and the fourth floor has one large room with a fanlight window and a door leading to the roof.
The basement has been dug out, with high ceilings and a sidewalk entrance.
There are gas lines for some ceiling and wall fixtures.
The previous homeowner installed some new wiring and plumbing. There is one working half bath and a full bath will all new plumbing, but the water is not on to test it. There are two other bathroom spaces that have been roughed in.


3 thoughts on “Nearly Untouched 1829 Townhouse in Historic Center City Philadelphia $550K

  1. This place is amazing, but I would need new plaster on those walls. I believe with some restoration this could still have the feeling of being very old and historic.

  2. Lovely home that will require balancing the old and quite beautiful aesthetic with modern necessities. A careful craftsman will work with the existing details — a design challenge that faces most of us that that live in an old house in a historic neighborhood.

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