Historic building preservation topic of Tacony meeting

Pre­ser­va­tion Al­li­ance of Great­er Phil­adelphia’s dir­ect­or ad­vised res­id­ents how to get the neigh­bor­hood’s many his­tor­ic build­ings on the city’s his­tor­ic re­gistry. There are 1,300 prop­er­ties on the city’s re­gistry, but just one from the Ta­cony his­tor­ic dis­trict.

Last May, the Na­tion­al Re­gister of His­tor­ic Places form­ally lis­ted  Ta­cony’s Dis­ston dis­trict in re­cog­ni­tion of its found­ing and sig­ni­fic­ance as a planned “com­pany town” with­in 19th-cen­tury Phil­adelphia.

But that des­ig­na­tion doesn’t ne­ces­sar­ily mean much in the way of pre­ser­va­tion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials from the Pre­ser­va­tion Al­li­ance of Great­er Phil­adelphia.

Dur­ing the bi­monthly meet­ing of the Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation on March 8, the Al­li­ance’s ad­vocacy dir­ect­or, Patrick Grossi, told res­id­ents that if they hope to pre­serve the neigh­bor­hood’s many his­tor­ic build­ings, they really need to get them lis­ted on the city’s own his­tor­ic re­gistry. Main­tained and en­forced by the city’s His­tor­ic­al Com­mis­sion, build­ings and dis­tricts in­cluded on the loc­al list are pro­tec­ted against de­moli­tion and ex­tern­al modi­fic­a­tions that de­vi­ate from their his­tor­ic char­ac­ter.

There are 1,300 prop­er­ties on the city’s re­gistry, but just one from the Ta­cony his­tor­ic dis­trict. It’s the 1885 Ta­cony Mu­sic Hall at Long­shore Av­en­ue and Ed­mund Street. Non­ethe­less, in a merely curs­ory tour of the neigh­bor­hood, the Al­li­ance folks iden­ti­fied dozens of po­ten­tial ad­di­tions to the re­gistry.

The Ta­cony Sav­ing Fund Safe De­pos­it & Title build­ing at Long­shore and Tulip Street is one of them, said the Al­li­ance’s Car­oline Slama. The former bank has had many com­mer­cial uses over the years and now houses a private res­id­ence, a re­cord­ing stu­dio and the Jack Cos­tello Box­ing Gym. The Ta­cony Branch Lib­rary at 6742 Tor­res­dale Ave. is an ori­gin­al Carne­gie lib­rary just like the nearby Holmes­burg Branch, which is lis­ted.

Oth­er im­port­ant struc­tures, ac­cord­ing to Slama, are the Ta­cony Club build­ing at 4619 Long­shore, the Mary Dis­ston and Hamilton Dis­ston pub­lic schools, the Dis­ston Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, nu­mer­ous loc­al churches, the former Har­bot’s Hotel (now Cur­ran’s pub) and the ori­gin­al Dis­ston Saw Works headquar­ters.

Ta­cony also has an “in­cred­ible vari­ety” of hous­ing that Henry Dis­ston de­veloped for his work­ers and their bosses. 

Any­one can nom­in­ate a build­ing for in­clu­sion on Phil­adelphia’s his­tor­ic re­gistry, al­though do­ing so may cause ten­sion between the ap­plic­ant and the land­lord if he or she has oth­er plans for the prop­erty. The Al­li­ance can as­sist in fil­ing an ap­plic­a­tion. It also ad­min­is­ters a facade ease­ment pro­gram for more than 240 prop­er­ties city­wide and pub­lishes Ex­tant, a quarterly journ­al fea­tur­ing a “places to save” list. Each June, the Al­li­ance hosts its Pre­ser­va­tion Achieve­ment Awards. In­form­a­tion about the or­gan­iz­a­tion is avail­able via pre­ser­va­tion­al­li­ance.com

In an un­re­lated agenda item, an out­reach co­ordin­at­or for the Clean Air Al­li­ance in­formed Ta­cony res­id­ents about her or­gan­iz­a­tion’s en­vir­on­ment­ally friendly trans­port­a­tion pro­grams. Erika Mor­gan said that the CAA can help com­muters find or start a car­pool or join a pre-ex­ist­ing “v-ride” van­pool. The CAA can ad­voc­ate for work­ers who want their com­pan­ies to of­fer pre-tax payroll de­duc­tions for pub­lic trans­it fares or those who are try­ing to con­vince their bosses to al­low a flex sched­ule that suits the work­er’s pub­lic trans­it it­in­er­ary.

Mor­gan said that people who com­mute from the North­east via In­ter­state-95 may want to think ser­i­ously about al­tern­at­ive trans­port­a­tion con­sid­er­ing that the high­way will re­main un­der con­struc­tion between the North­east and Cen­ter City for many years to come.

The CAA can also help bi­cycle riders get bike racks in­stalled at work. The go­phil­lygo.org web­site is the CAA’s eco-friendly trip-plan­ning re­source. It has a tool for dir­ect­ing trav­el­ers to­ward the best walk­ing and bi­cycle routes. It also re­com­mends more than a dozen re­cre­ation­al out­ings for those who want to ex­plore the re­gion’s wa­ter­sheds, parks, gar­dens and mu­seums.

In oth­er meet­ing busi­ness, Su­z­in Weber, the Ta­cony Branch lib­rar­i­an, said that six new laptop com­puters are avail­able for pub­lic use at the Lib­rary and Arts Build­ing (LAB), 6918 Tor­res­dale Ave. The Ta­cony LAB is the lib­rary’s tem­por­ary home while the reg­u­lar branch is closed for renov­a­tions. The lib­rary shares the LAB with artists from the city’s Mur­al Arts Pro­gram.

The LAB will of­fer in­tro­duct­ory com­puter work­shops on March 19 and April 2 and 23. Ses­sions start at 2 p.m. and are free to at­tend, but are lim­ited to 10 stu­dents. Call 215-685-9338 for re­ser­va­tions.

The LAB will host a cel­eb­ra­tion on April 29 for the re­open­ing of its curb­side mini-park, or park­let.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on presen­ted the Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation with a $2,500 grant from the city’s Activ­it­ies Fund. The civic as­so­ci­ation plans to use the money to present its sum­mer con­cert series this year. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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