August 17, 2015
A 19th-century home in Manayunk has been saved from demolition thanks to an agreement between developers and the civic group that was fighting to save it.
The owner of the James Z. Holt House at 145 Sumac Street planned to demolish the house and replace it with 10 residential units, Newsworks reported. Then, the Wissahickon Interested Citizen's Association (WICA) sought an injunction for the demolition permit.
The case was about to come to court when the two sides reached an agreement. Owner John Messing will renovate the house "with historic sensitivity, maintaining exterior design elements that are salvageable," WICA member Jeffrey Allegretti told Newsworks.
In return, WICA will support the owner's application for a zoning variance that would allow 12 units on the renovated property and it will halt its efforts to nominate the house for protected historical status until the renovation is complete.
In WICA's application for the home to be put on the city's historic registry, Allegretti wrote that the red brick house is "an extraordinary example of Eastlake Victorian Styling" and "an important marker in the history of Manayunk's and Philadelphia's industrial heritage."
The home's historical importance comes from its association with the Holts, a family of wealthy mill owners. Mill owners like James Holt built up the industry in the neighborhood and "provided much of the impetus for Wissahickon's development as the location for elegant parkside homes along the Wissahickon Creek," Allegretti wrote.