As each year passes, we can take notice of the gradual facelifts that are given to our cities through the constant building and rebuilding of their skylines. Old buildings and homes are either revamped or demolished to make way for exciting new prospects that will ultimately determine the character of our of neighborhoods. In the new show Philly Revival, airing January 26th on the DIY network, General contractor, real estate agent, designer and former opera singer Rachel Street is on a mission to revitalize some of Philadelphia’s most historic homes to reinstate a new sense of pride in the city’s unique architecture.
Rachel Street talks Philly Revival and the value of a home with good bones.
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Rachel Street having fun on the set of Philly Revival. Instagram
In the Saturday’s premiere episode of Philly Revival, “It’s Phlippin’ Small”, Street reimagines a tiny row home in South Philly’s Whitman district by opening things up and expanding the second floor to add an additional 150 square feet. While she makes way for more modern improvements to this historic home, she also finds ways to incorporate some of the old charms of the neighborhood by including a 150-year old door in the renovation. This sense of identity is something that Street believes is as valuable as the home itself.
“Definitely one of the biggest things I focus on in my renovations is honoring the history of the homes,” says Street. Adding, “We’re lucky to have a lot of older buildings here, which is kind of a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you get those original details that, today, might be prohibitively expensive to recreate. But, it also takes a lot of work to restore them. A lot of our housing stock in Philly is not in great shape. So, it opens the door to a lot of people to flip houses and unfortunately, a lot of people tend to rip out those original details. What my business tries to do is combine the old and the new. If we have those original details like pocket doors or special trim, we like to incorporate them into the design and then combine them with some more modern elements that update the home for the modern home buyer.”
To Street, historic neighborhoods like the Whitman district will only thrive if we take the time to preserve their already amazingly constructed buildings. After all, shouldn’t home buyers be looking for something that has proven it’s worth over time?
“I think about our buildings that have been here for generations, they have withstood the tests of time. A lot of those old growth wood and beautiful brick buildings, they just don’t build houses that way anymore. We have modern technology and modern products, but there’s kind of a limit as to what you can do with some of the modern homes. They don’t have the depth of character that old homes do. That’s what really attracts me to older buildings, they have a history and a story.”