A historic Fishtown home is saved from demolition

Neighbors on the 1500 block of E. Montgomery Ave. had been concerned about the potential demolition of 1514 E. Montgomery Ave., which is one of the few porch-front homes left in Fishtown and in the city.

1514 E. Montgomery Ave. on the left and 1516 E. Montgomery Ave. on the right. | Photo by Tom Beck

A demolition permit for 1514 E. Montgomery Ave. was revoked on Thursday after initially being issued by the city Department of Licenses and Inspections on Aug. 19, according to L&I spokeswoman Karen Guss.

Both 1514 and 1516 E. Montgomery Ave. are two halves of a duplex on the block. Neighbors on the 1500 block of E. Montgomery Ave. had been concerned about the potential demolition of 1514 E. Montgomery Ave., which is one of the few porch-front homes left in Fishtown and in the city.

“I think it’s going to destroy the charm of the house,” Crystal Miskell, who lives in 1516 E. Montgomery Ave., said prior to L&I’s revoking of the license. “They want to build a house that looks like all the other houses in the area.”

Miskell is the granddaughter of Sophie Adams, who owns and also lives in 1516 E. Montgomery.

The demolition notice posted on the front door of 1514 E. Montgomery Ave., which was later revoked. | Photo by Tom Beck

Currently, 1514 E. Montgomery is vacant and appears considerably more unkempt 

Adams and Miskell were also concerned about the demolition itself and whether it can be done in a safe manner. According to Guss, this is partially why the permit was revoked.

“From an engineering perspective, there are measures that can and should be taken to reinforce the attached property (1516) and keep it stable,” said Guss in an email. “Those steps are best taken from within the attached property, but the contractor has not negotiated right of entry with the resident of 1516. We will not allow the demo to proceed without safeguards.”

Joe Jacquinto, a member of the development team for 1514, which is currently vacant, told the Star that the house is “termite ridden and falling down,” which necessitates a demolition. He planned to build a new home in place of the current one.

“I love to restore houses when I can,” he told the Star, “but there’s no way [for this house to be restored],” he said. Jacquinto was unavailable for followup questions. 

In addition to the engineering issues, neighbors were concerned that having only half of a duplex on the block would be aesthetically unpleasing.

“I think it’s one of the only porch-front houses,” said Susan McAnally, who lives on the block. “There are very few porch-front houses in the neighborhood. Aesthetically it’s just going to be offensive looking if they build a mcmansion next to this historic property.”

Adams purchased the home in 1998.

Neighbors hope the property can be rehabilitated.

“It’s old fashioned,” said Adams. “I would like to see them rehab it so the houses would look nice together.”