July 3, 2012
Q. My parents both died in 2010. At the time of their deaths, they owned a small house in North Philly. Shortly after that, the house next to theirs was declared unsafe and taken down by the city. In the process, mother and dad's house was so badly damaged, that it had to go. The insurance company paid the estate for the loss, and the children divided the money. Now the city has notified us to pay the real-estate taxes on the lot. They tell us that we now own it even though the title is still in our parents' names.
May 22, 2009 |
Once, when I was in the market for a house, a real estate agent effervescently exclaimed about a place's "curb appeal. " The expression was unfamiliar, but I knew what was meant: the house's appearance from a distance. Does it make an imposing impression from afar, or does it shrink into humble insignificance? Castle or cottage? The notion of curb appeal is a curious one, as it does not reflect the orientation of the house's residents, who will likely live inside it. Instead, it considers the vantage point of a hypothetical observer - whether friend or stranger, prospective purchaser or cat burglar - who, glimpsing the house from a distance, will be suitably impressed or not. This inverted perspective has become common over the last 30 years.
March 13, 2009 |
With television helicopters fluttering overhead, a documentary film crew working on the ground, and a contingent of Long Beach Island locals calling the play-by-play, this area's most famous beach cottage rolled gingerly onto an ocean barge yesterday, en route to a new home on the north shore of Long Island, N.Y. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's little Lieb House became the SS Lieb. In all his years of practicing architecture with his wife, the 83-year-old Venturi has probably never had a media experience quite like the one that began unfolding at 7:30 a.m. in the sandy yard of the Barnegat Light marina.
November 27, 2007 |
The Philadelphia Historical Commission's recent decision to preserve part of former Mayor Richardson Dilworth's 50-year-old house in Society Hill while permitting construction of a 16-story luxury condominium tower on the house site seems entirely appropriate. Dilworth was a man with a foot in the past - he was the last Philadelphia mayor born in the 19th century - but with an eye glued to the future. The historical commission's ruling preserves that flexibility. Society Hill has been termed the nation's most successful urban-renewal project, and it got a great boost in 1957 when Philadelphia's first family built a house there.
May 11, 2006 |
On a cold morning in early March, an electrical fire started in Mildred Harris' small house in the 2500 block of North Alder Street in Philadelphia. It moved quickly through the roof and spread to three other houses, all owned by the Village of Arts and Humanities, a nationally known community arts organization about to celebrate its 20th anniversary and already in the midst of a difficult transition. While there were no life-threatening injuries, the pain in the neighborhood was acute.
August 24, 2004
House fires don't typically get headlines. Unless someone dies. Sadly, that's what happened Friday night. Firefighter Rey Rubio, 42, of North Philadelphia, and Capt. John Taylor, 53, of Northeast Philadelphia, were killed in a house fire. But the blaze was anything but typical. Investigators believe that a jerry-built lighting system for an illegal marijuana-growing operation may have overheated and ignited combustibles in the basement of the home in Port Richmond. Taylor and Rubio were trapped in the basement and died of asphyxiation.
December 16, 2001 |
Bill and Linda Low have owned four old houses together over the last 25 years, so you'd think they'd have four times the horror stories. Not really. If they didn't like owning and restoring old houses, they would have stopped after the first one, a small house in the center of Doylestown, built in 1850, that they traded for a circa 1870 house on five acres in Plumstead Township, which they then sold to buy a 1797 house in Solebury, which they exchanged, in August 1998, for a 1720 house in New Hope.
August 9, 1999 |
When Mike Hart spotted the two-story house on Towamencin Avenue, about a hundred yards from a barn he was considering buying, his architectural antennae went up. This building was not what it seemed. Its stature and dimensions, the pitch of its roof, the location of its windows. Somewhere, underneath the asbestos shingles and clapboard, was a log cabin of 1760s vintage. "When you see this stuff enough, you get to know it," said Hart, a self-taught historian of early American architecture who dates homes by the workmanship and materials used.
December 19, 1997 |
A tree-lined street near you is home to 40 wealthy families that call themselves middle-class. Most are two-job families, two-kid families, 9-to-5 and -6 and -7 and -8 families. They hire many other people to watch their children, clean and fix their houses, prune their trees and shrubs, and cut their lawns. One side is willing to exploit, the other to be exploited. Those they hire are not middle-class but want to be. That's why they came. Most of them carry two or three other jobs.
December 17, 1995 |
It is tough, Jane Stradley says, to own a large house in a cold place. Never mind that the house sits on the site where one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was born. So, for $885,000, Stradley is selling the birthplace of Thomas McKean, which has been in her family for 50 years. Stradley, who is in her 70s, would rather have something with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, somewhere in the Carolinas. "Young people like big houses, not me," she said. "I've had them all my life.