Few things are more beautiful this time of year than a historic house decked out for the holidays.
So, I commuted for work from Oklahoma City to Philly for a year while working for BuLogics. One morning a week I would drive around Philadelphia and look for the neighborhood that would become home to my family (husband, three home-schooled kids and two dogs).
I looked in every single neighborhood, regardless of demographic, statistic, etc. I knew I’d know “home” when I found it, and once I saw East Falls I was done.
I love everything about this neighborhood. First, I love the people. I’ve yet to meet an unkind person in East Falls. I’ve received more encouragement and support from this community, both in relocating our business here and in buying this home, than I ever thought possible, much less expected!
I love the rivers, the ease of commuting, the climbing gym, the restaurants. I love that East Falls is “in process” with truckloads of potential. It makes me feel like I can have a significant positive impact without being rich and famous!
Almost immediately, we relocaed our company, BuLogics, to Ridge & Midvale — even before we found a home. I even considered trying to buy our business building to convert the top two stories into a home.
But then I saw the Hohenadel House. Just as quickly as it came on the market, it was off again. I assumed it had been purchased and focused on settling our company and my family that had just moved to Philly. We started out in an apartment.
Then, one Friday afternoon, an email arrived with a new listing: It was 3617 Indian Queen Lane, and for the first time, I realized, it was one block away from my office!
I called the realtor and asked to see it immediately. He had planned to go away for the weekend, but I would just call another realtor so he arranged it. Next day, I saw it and fell in love immediately!
The outside was (and still is) a catastrophe. But there was:
hope for the floors
wood work unlike any I’d seen
plenty of space for homeschooling 3 active kids
a basement fireplace
leaded and stained glass accents
an amazing staircase
gigantic (if falling out) windows
Of course I saw what’s wrong, but it paled in comparison. The journey officially began that day, with a letter of intent. Settlement wouldn’t occur for nine months. I’ve done nearly 10,000 real estate transactions, and this was my biggest challenge.
The property isn’t officially a registered historic property, but in its condition it certainly came with complexities for financing. A normal house can be financed by traditional methods, with which most people are familiar. There are limited options, outside of private investment, for a property quite this far gone.
We had to make some serious strategic choices and apply for the type of loan very early in the process. We had to request and receive a variance for the property from the City of Philadelphia in order to qualify for enough of a loan to make the required renovations that would allow the lender to insure the loan accordingly. It was a nine month nightmare.
Even today, the renovations are approved by the Lender under very strict guidelines. We couldn’t do this without a very rare contractor, Mike Labetti, who is willing to subject his work to tremendous ongoing scrutiny, and follow a book of rules as thick as an encyclopedia, all on top of our mutual desire to bring the house back to its original glory…on a relatively tight budget!
So “original glory” is multi-faceted by definition! Some things are required by the Lender to be upgraded, to code, for insurance purposes:
The knob and tube wiring had to be removed and the entire property was re-wired.
Most if not all of the plumbing was replaced.
Radiators replaced/refurbished and the boiler replaced.
All lead paint had to be removed to specification.
The windows will be replaced.
The stucco will be replaced on the entire exterior
The carriage house will be completely renovated to an au pair suite:
Everything that we can do will be reminiscent of the period, but given nearly two hundred years of ongoing add-on renovations, we’re being realistic. It’s a more challenging period than we imagined, and living in the home while renovating is … there really aren’t words appropriate for print.
But today I walked in and there was paint on the walls for the first time.
And someday I’ll be walking my very naughty dogs down the hill, look up, and there will be a HOME!
A home that this community made happen — together.
Because of the community, I’m enjoying the journey, even on the days I’m dusting drywall from my everything. At least a little.
|Felicite Moorman, Esq.
CEO BuLogics, Inc.
StratIS EMS, Llc.
They are neither independently wealthy nor sponsored by royalty (as far as we know). They’ve renovated old houses before, and saw Hohenadel House as an exciting challenge, their biggest home project yet.
That’s what they liked about the house: the challenge. The history. The satisfaction of restoring a faded architectural beauty — giving it new life as a family home.
Who Does This?!