I joined the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute a few years ago. Shortly after I joined, I was talking one night with Clive, the Philopatrian’s old house manager. He mentioned that the vacant properties nearby—a parking lot behind the Philopatrian and another just down the block—had nearly transformed into a new tower. But the 2008 financial crisis hit, and those plans had been shelved. Still, he guessed something would be built sooner rather than later.
That conversation came back to me when I saw news that the plans for 1911 Walnut Street had been unveiled. You can see the Philopatrian in the Google Streetview photo above (with the vacant lot/fencing somewhat obscured by the trees), and then the new view from Rittenhouse Park:
It’ll be a major development for Center City and the Rittenhouse area, and it’s transform the block that the Philopatrian inhabits at 1923 Walnut. This is what the street is expected to look like:
Today there’s none of this. There’s a chain-link fence and an Indego bike station:
It’s great to see such a landmark tower coming to this lot. It should be a rising tide that lifts the ship that is the Philopatrian, bringing more people to that block, and providing a good retreat for the many weddings and events that are hosted there.
I hope as property values rise in the years to come, the board at the Philopatrian values its history and future enough to conserve the mansion.