University City Historical Society to Recognize Individuals and Groups for Neighborhood Preservation Efforts

UNIVERSITY CITY --- The University City Historical Society will recognize two University City developers for their efforts in preserving the exterior facades of some of the area's most historic buildings. It also will honor two neighborhood groups for their efforts to protect the area's architectural heritage at a Victorian tea on Sunday, Feb. 15, from 4-6 p.m., at 802 So. 48th Street.

The UCHS will recognize Danny Liberascoli and The Restaurant School, 4207 Walnut St., with its Outstanding Preservation Award for both "returning the historic Allison Mansion (circa. 1860) to the streetscape in its near-original condition" and for developing a complex of support buildings "that continue to celebrate their 19th Century architecture while serving the adaptive uses" of the culinary institute.

The Restaurant School, which acquired Allison Mansion in 1989, has "sympathetically restored" the 6,000-square-foot building, which had fallen into disrepair, and joined it with a modern 21,000-square-foot building that includes an atrium dining room. The school also has acquired and rehabilitated two nearby multi-family properties, now used as administrative offices and student residences. The grounds of the school campus have been landscaped featuring red-paved sidewalks and period lighting.

The UCHS also will present an Outstanding Preservation Award to Mark Sherman, a developer and contractor, for his efforts in less than two years that "have impacted and transformed our streetscape." Sherman, attracted to University City by its architectural history and the diversity of the neighborhoods, has restored a fire-damaged property at 4600 Spruce St. and a property at 4504 Pine St.

The UCHS will present two new Preservation Initiative Awards to recognize extraordinary preservation efforts by groups of area residents, businesses and those associated with political organizations and institutions for their efforts in working to maintain the architectural heritage of the neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Lindsay Johnson of Common Ground Realtors and administrators from the Office of Community and City Relations and the Office of Community Housing at the University of Pennsylvania will be recognized with a Preservation Initiative Award for "their heroic and extraordinary efforts" in November to stop the demolition of a property (circa. 1913) at 4620 Spruce St. to "preserve the architectural integrity of one of University City's most magnificent Victorian blocks."

The UCHS also will recognize the Cedar Point Park Neighborhood Association with a Preservation Initiative Award for its "past and continuing efforts" to preserve the architectural integrity of a Colonial Revival/Victorian twin property (circa. 1900) at 4618 Cedar Ave. The group has taken " a responsible and conscientious effort" to engage the owner of the property in a dialogue and explore alternatives to planned demolition and renovation to establish a dental practice on the property.

Michael Hardy, a member of the UCHS Board of Governors, said that while the outcomes of the preservation efforts at both the property at 4620 Spruce St. and the property at 4618 Cedar Ave. are "far from assured" the UCHS thanks the individuals and groups involved because "they have demonstrated the best examples of responsible community stewardship for the architectural heritage of University City. These preservation efforts serve as models for responsible action for the exceptionally-built environment that so distinguishes our neighborhood."