Home News Good Luck Buying in Philadelphia’s Society Hill, Where Homeowners Covet Their I.M. Pei-Designed Properties

Good Luck Buying in Philadelphia’s Society Hill, Where Homeowners Covet Their I.M. Pei-Designed Properties

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Philadelphia’s Bingham Court was built in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal plan to draw residents back to the city center, especially Society Hill. They are now almost impossible to lure. The homeowners there are so committed to their community that properties rarely come to market.

The 27-townhouse complex stands out in contrast to other nearby buildings, mostly built before 1850. Few were built in between or much later. Bingham Court is one of three local projects by Architect Lim PeiMajor works include the National Gallery East Building in Washington and the Kennedy Library in Boston. His Society Hill Towers, a condominium community containing a retail center built in 1964, is the tallest building in the area at 30 stories. He also developed an adjacent townhouse. His Bingham Court development offers mid-century modern layouts and amenities while Ben He maintains a red-brick exterior similar to the city’s scale in Franklin. This successful effort to revive Society Hill, about three blocks from Independence Hall and near the historic Old St. led. He’s been called the father of modern Philadelphia (he’s also the father of actor Kevin Bacon).

Architect IM Pei in 1979.


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“Bingham Court is remarkable for how it spliced ​​together the frayed urban fabrics of Society Hill,” says William Whitaker, curator of the architectural archives at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weizman School of Design. increase. “Society Hill’s residential structure has a scale that speaks to its origins in the 18th century, a rather delicate scale.”

The surrounding area is made up of small streets bisected by smaller and narrower streets, lined with one of the largest number of surviving 18th- and early 19th-century structures in the United States, among other ventures. , has a fortune derived from trade and wartime privateer equipment. He was also a delegate to the Continental Congress and later a Senator from Pennsylvania.

All 27 homes have private garden spaces. 17 of which are adjacent to a 20,000-square-foot lush courtyard, and 10 along a pedestrian-only street. The ground floor is mostly blocked by brick walls, and the upper floors have large windows.

Homes tend to become available every few years. The 3,508-square-foot, three-bedroom townhouse he sold in April for $1.875 million. Previously he was sold in 2014 for $1.38 million. In the same year, another townhouse was purchased by the couple for his $1.1 million. Dan Kelly, who became president of the Homeowners Association in 2007, recalls three or four sales during that time.

He said between one-third and one-half of Bingham Court’s residents have lived there for more than 20 years. The two have been residents since his 1967 opening. “People stay,” he said. “People love the place.”

Kelly, now 69, is a principal at MGA Partners Architects, a Philadelphia-based studio that purchased a 3,030-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom unit on Bingham Court for $725,000. half bath removed). Together with his wife Mary Keefe, 70, in 2004, she is also a principal of the company.

Townhouses are built in three sizes: 4 bedrooms with 3.5 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms with 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms with 1.5 baths.

Homeowners are drawn to the unit’s size and mid-century feel. The couple, who purchased her $1.1 million unit in 2014, had been searching the area for some time before finding her coat Bingham. All the old houses were very vertical and had steep stairs,” said Margie Patlak, now 64.

Society Hill Towers is another IM Pei condominium community that was built nearby in the 1960s.


Wall Street Journal’s Jesse Nader

The house she bought with her husband, Frank Chadnow, 69, is a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath ‘A’ unit, the largest of its kind on Bingham Court. Her 3,508-square-foot living space spans five floors (the upper half contains the bedrooms). There’s also plenty of light from her 16-foot ceiling in the living room and her 9.5-foot ceilings elsewhere. It’s the same size as a unit that recently sold for $1.875 million.


Jason Lee

Another attraction for residents is the plan’s openness to nature. Elkins, Pennsylvania He moved to the city from Park He said Patlak thought, “If I can find a house where I can’t see any buildings or passing cars when I look out the window, I’m going to move there.” I remembered Delivery of Bingham Court. She is still a freelance writer and author of Science Her. Chudnow is a former principal of a software company and her partner.

The layout overlooks the private patio and common green space. “The internal structure is minimal, so the space is very fluid,” Kelly said. “There is something compelling about the modernist sense of open and fresh living.”

He and his wife live with their daughter and four-year-old grandson. “The courtyard is a great place for kids, from playing ball to scooters and biking,” Kelly added.

Residents pay $4,500 a year (in three installments of $1,500) to take care of common areas such as trees, pavement, parking spaces, light fixtures and gardens, he said.

Bingham Court offers views of both 18th and 21st century Philadelphia. Its grounds are open to all passers-by.


Wall Street Journal’s Jesse Nader

neighborhood nightlife

Copa Banana on Spruce Street is one of the more familiar local restaurants.
Liberty Point is an outdoor riverfront eatery and gathering place.

Restaurants in and around the neighborhood. Wall Street Journal’s Jesse Neider (3)

Retired venture capitalist Charles Hadley, 66, made many improvements when he bought his home in 2017 for about $975,000. He replaced the brick fireplace with a concrete fireplace. He and his wife added mid-century furniture, including a replica Noguchi his coffee his table.

Complexes allow internal reconfiguration of individual units. Original elements such as doors, windows and floors need to be replaced. The townhouse is historically registered with Philadelphia, and Mr. Kelly has limited exterior alterations. One of her former homeowners painted her unit’s window frames green. These were repainted in obligatory black.

Only one exterior decoration is allowed: different door colors. Residents are choosing shades ranging from lavender to bright red to mint green. When it comes to preserving the complex’s historic patina, Kelly said: people know it. they believe it. They want to keep that character.

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