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Lyceum Ave. porches and facades in Roxborough to get facelift thanks to Preservation Alliance grant

When you think of neighborhoods steeped in history, you probably think of Old City, Society Hill, and Germantown. Yet, the Roxborough neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia has plenty of historic homes in its own right, and will now be given a chance to showcase Victorian-era properties on Lyceum Ave., a few blocks up from the infamous Manayunk Wall, between Ridge Ave. and Pechin St. This is thanks to a grant from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia to rehabilitate the porches and facades of homes on the two-block stretch.

The Roxborough Development Corporation (RDC) is not wasting any time in taking advantage of the $30,000 grant, says James Calamia, its operations manager. "This summer is a target to begin construction, maybe even this spring," he says. The RDC held a forum on the grant this past Wednesday, where they handed out applications for interested Victorian homeowners to enlist. They also put on the first of multiple workshops on "historic porches and wood repairs," adds Calamia. There was an excellent turnout for both the forum and the workshop.

This is just the latest exciting news for Roxborough, which is trying to enhance its Ridge Ave. commercial corridor through walkability improvements and the opening of new businesses. In order to draw more people to live and shop in the area, RDC is trying to accentuate the neighborhood’s rich, albeit often untold, history. "The Roxborough Development Corporation believes in protecting the historical assets and heritage of the Roxborough neighborhood," says Calamia. 

In the past, Roxborough Township was known as a peaceful alternative to the frenetic bustle of Center City, buffered from the downtown by the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Many of the affected homes on the 400-block of Lyceum Ave. were built in the late-1800s to maintain the sense of closely-woven community that made Roxborough such an appealing place.   

Lyceum Ave. home- and business-owners are receiving the grants on behalf of the Preservation Alliance’s Vital Neighborhoods Initiative (VNI). The VNI targets moderate-income sections of the city that could use some additional preservation work. Roxborough and the Penn Knox, Tulpehocken, and Pomona Cherokee sections of Germantown are the only neighborhoods in Northwest Philly eligible for the grants. Recipients of the last round of grants included the Fairmount CDC, the Walnut Hill Community Association, and the Yorktown CDC.

Writer: Andy Sharpe
Source: James Calamia, Roxborough CDC
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