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Historic House Covered with Foreclosure Mould

05th February 2011
By karen in Real Estate Law
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Mould is covering the drywall, the floors and walls of historic abandoned residences in old Philadelphia gnawing into its heart. There are thousand of such units peppering suburban ghostly townships except this time it is in one of the streets that is historically famous.

Each year 250,000 tourists come to 109 Elfreth’s Alley constructed in 1702 standing on a cobblestone street. Preservationists are worried that despite the heritage status the houses are not free from the after effects of foreclosure.

Preservation architect P. Justin Detwiler of Elfreth’s Alley Association (vice president) said, “We’re subject to the same problems s streets all over America. We have a house in foreclosure right here”. The association made its debut in 1934 to purchase and repair houses.

This historic house, two centuries old has been vacant since 2008 informed the Preservation Alliance. There are ten houses included in a list naming the ones with the greatest risk. In the list it is said, “The house and its unfinished addition have sat vacant ever since, suffering from severe water infiltration, mould infestation and vandalism”.

As per public records the owners are Scott and Caren Cronin. The situation is hanging in the air with two banks laying claims on the unit. The address listed of the couple is in West Grove – that house also being in foreclosure as per records of the sheriff of Chester County. A phone call made to the Cronins remains unanswered; an e-mail met with the same fate. Photographs of both the properties have since then been removed from the home page of the blog.

Detwiler said that he does not think the house will be pulled down – none would like that to happen. But there are complex issues involved – foreclosure, renovation etc that need to be unwound.

The National Register of Historic Places has listed Elfreth’s Alley. The street has been continuously inhabited in USA. Similar claims however have been made by streets in Santa Fe, St. Augustine etc.

Jeremiah Elfreth lived in the 18th century. He was a blacksmith as well as a land speculator who constructed and rented out many houses in this area. 32 row houses have survived the onslaught of time. They were constructed between 1724 and 1836. The houses were not for the elite but for the humble. – labourers, craftsmen and shipwrights.

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