Finally!! They Got It Right
Tear Down One House & Build A Set Of Twins
Not At Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street
By Jack Coll
Can we all take a minute and applaud whoever is behind the reconstruction of the house at 11th Avenue and Maple Street. (The official address is 151 West Eleventh Avenue) I’ve lived in this borough for more than 40 years, and for more than 40 years I’ve heard residents comment over the years in an angry tone of voice;
“Damn it! They keep tearing down one house and building two, where are we going to park?
“Why do they have to tear down that beautiful house?”
“How much money do they need?”
“Why does the borough let them do this?”
And of course; “Somebody should do something about this!”
Well I can pump my fist in the air and say, ”Hey, I’m with you,” or I can simply tell you the truth!
The truth of the matter is this, “This is America, and when you purchase a property with two, or three, or four lots, the law says you are permitted to build up to two, or three, or four houses depending on how many lots you purchased. In America, we are permitted to make as much money as we possibly can. As more people are wanting to get onto the property ladder, looking high & low and even moving long distance just to find the perfect home; more people are taking advantage of this and buying 2 or 3 houses where just 1 use to stand.
Why do they tear down that beautiful house? Typically, the house looks beautiful on the outside, but inside is a whole different story, most of the beautiful houses being torn down were built more than a century ago like the one on the corner of Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street. Almost all of these old beautiful houses were built without indoor plumbing, without electric, without insulation anywhere in the house. Most of these homes were built with pot belly stoves in the living room and or dining room. Looking to build a house as big as this and with all the essentials? Make sure you do your research into the land you can purchase before committing to anything else. You wouldn’t want anyone tearing your house down. Come to think of it, anything that will mean living in your home comfortably and safety is always worth looking into, especially if you are a buyer of a brand new house. Did you know by looking into something like Build Zone Warranty, you can ensure your home is protected from any structural defects? This is correct. You don’t want to spend all your savings on fixing every part of your house, when you know a solution like this is something you can always look into. This will give any homeowner the peace of mind to know that their home is built to the highest standards.
The house I lived in on the 800 block of Forrest Street was a beautiful first class home when it was built back in 1900, it featured a pot belly stove in the living room and dining room. The stoves served a dual purpose for both heating and cooking, the house like every other house in Conshohocken had an outhouse in the yard, our yard was one floor down from the front of the house, if you had to pee on a cold February night, down three floors with the lantern, out into the yard, you can bet your life the seat wasn’t heated, walk back through the snow and up three floors, counting on the pot belly stove a floor below you to keep you warm.
If you are doing the math you can spend anywhere from $350,000 to $450,000 to rehab one of these old houses or spend $250,000 to tear it down and construct a whole new house, or two. And this brings me back to the very first sentence in this article, “Can we take a minute and applaud whoever is behind the reconstruction of the house at Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street! ‘’
It would have been easier, and cheaper, to demolish the house, and build a twin on the property. A few years ago at the former Leddy house located at Ninth Avenue and Wells Street, a single home was demolished and two homes were built on the corner property, the same size property located at Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street. Not long after that Jean Smith sold her house at Seventh Avenue and Hallowell Street, about the same size property at Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street, they built four houses there. They built four houses because the law allows them to build four houses.
The person who purchased the property at Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street, took a look around at the beautiful houses in the area, the fine trimmed lawns, and recognized that the area around Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street is in the heart of a community that lives and breathes Conshohocken pride, this area of the borough is the post card shot.
I talked to Mark Canale, the general contractor on the job, I asked him about not tearing it down, I ask him about the materials he used, I asked him about the contractors he used, and I asked him about the money he would make. Mark stated that he just couldn’t tear the property down on that corner, he feared changing the make-up of the community, “a little less money, a little more satisfaction” stated Mark. “I live in this town and I want to live in a town that I’m proud of, I’m proud of the work I did at Eleventh Avenue and Maple Street.” Mark went on to say that whenever possible he uses contractors from Conshohocken, “They feel the same way I do, they live here and they take pride in their work.” Mark stated that Edward Phipps Contracting from Conshohocken handled the roof and gutter work, the Jones Brothers who are known for their quality in construction worked on the house, John Westerfer and Roger Primus, all local guys put their skills to work providing quality craftsmanship to the project.
I contacted Noele Stinson, a Realtor working out of Coldwell Banker at 1207 Fayette Street who is handling the showings and sale of the property. The first words out of her mouth when I called and mentioned the property was, “This is a beautiful single house in Conshohocken, moving into this borough especially at this location gives a young couple of lot of perks.” What are the perks I asked? “Plymouth Whitemarsh School District is one of the top school districts in the state of Pennsylvania, Sutcliffe Park is about a block away, highlighted with little league baseball, fireworks, summer playground programs. The house is two blocks from the Conshohocken “A” Field, a ten minute walk to the borough’s youth center, “The Conshohocken Fellowship House,” and a charming library. We are minutes from the expressway, turnpike, Blue Route, and 422. A twenty minute ride to the city of Philadelphia on a good day, the Montgomery County Bike Trail is just minutes away, a dog park, and they are currently building a boat house on Conshohocken’s riverfront.” She mentioned how safe our town is, and of course our first class restaurants, shopping district, and the night life Conshohocken offers. She went on to mention our great car show, Funfest, Halloween Parade, and Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
The funny thing is, this is what I heard, Noele stated that it was a beautiful single house, and spent the rest of the time selling Conshohocken, she didn’t feel the need to sell the fireplace, beautiful all new kitchen and bathrooms, but she takes such pride in Conshohocken, that’s what she sells.
When I purchased my house on Forrest Street 40 years ago, the realtor pointed out some new paint on the front porch and never mentioned a word about Conshohocken or the community I was looking to live in, he pointed out the new paint on the front porch. Noele was saying, “Hey, this is a great town, the residents of this borough are great people, the programs this borough has to offer are first class.”
Mark Canale could have demolished this old home and built one, two or maybe more, he chose to take the path less traveled for the sake of our community, and this is a good time to stand up and thank him, show a little support for his actions, hold him accountable for doing what we would all like to see going on, we live in a better borough because of residents like him.
As a side note, a few people on the computer highway have questioned the price. Well I have an opinion on that. When these houses were built a hundred years ago and sold for $7,000, they were overpriced then, and if our grandparents chose not to buy at that time, perhaps a lot of us wouldn’t have grown up in Conshohocken. The young couple who buys this house is getting a bargain, they’re not paying for the house, they are paying for Conshohocken, the privilege and prestige of living in Conshohocken. You can buy a row-house, I’m sorry, you can buy a TOWN-HOUSE on Hector Street for $450,000, and that’s a pretty good price. The young couple who buys this house is getting a single home, with off-street parking, in what is considered the most beautiful part of Conshohocken. They get the history of the house, and perhaps will think about all the families who came before them, maybe they will think about the immigrant who came to Conshohocken back in 1900, and paid way too much for the house, and just maybe the young couple will take a minute and think about their great great grandchildren in 2114, who now own a house in Conshohocken a hundred years from now, and although this young couple of 2014, are likely to be long gone, the great great grandchildren will be forever thankful for their great great grandparents trust in Conshohocken, all those years ago, way back in 2014.
If you would like to see a little slice of heaven
Contact Noele Stinson for an appointment
Coldwell Banker 1207 Fayette Street
And if you see Mark Canale on the street
Be sure to throw him a little Thank You