WMAN Historic Preservation Initiative

As one of the most diverse and desirable neighborhoods in our historic city, West Mt. Airy faces uniquely intense pressures between historic preservation and development. Driven by varied – yet overlapping – guiding principles that promote the value of saving our tangible and intangible history for future generations, WMAN champions the economic, environmental, and community benefits of saving our historic places, while still recognizing the need to support managed growth and development in our community.

A group of dedicated neighbors meets regularly to strategize and take action to preserve historic structures in West Mt. Airy, and also works to spread an appreciation of the history of our area as reflected by these buildings through various print and digital content. For more information, or to get involved with our historic preservation initiatives, please contact us at wmanhpi@gmail.com.

Six people sit at a conference table with notebooks and laptops, looking at a digital monitor screen hanging on the wall.
Cresheim Valley Apartments, an apartment building with three entrances, four stories, and styled as a Tudor Revival building

Cresheim Valley Apartments listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places

On March 10, 2023, the Historical Commission voted to designate Cresheim Valley Apartments as a historic building. The nomination of this building was the first one put together by WMAN’s Historic Preservation Initiative, and this designation means that any new changes to the exterior or changes that require a permit will need to be reviewed by the Historical Commission. The Cresheim Valley Apartments were designed in 1914 by architect Henry E. DeHoff and reflect the development and architectural style of the first decades of the 1900s, and the historic designation is an important step to preserving this history and maintaining the character of the neighborhood.

Learn more about Philadelphia’s nomination process here.

Wood Norton Residences listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places

The Wood Norton Residences joins Cresheim Valley Apartments as the second apartment building in Mt. Airy to be designated as historic in 2023. Like every nomination, this went through two rounds of public meetings where the Commission staff, the building owners, the nominators, and the public had a chance to discuss the nominations and express their opinions for or against the historic designation. The Commission’s vote to ultimately designate both of these apartments as historic is reflective of the buildings’ distinctive architectural styles as well as their historic role as dense housing structures built in response to the railroad-led transformation of Northwest Philadelphia in the early decades of the 20th century.

The Wood Norton Residences, and apartment building with a stone base and English Tudor style upper floors.
PHS Volunteers

According to Ashley Hahn in a recent Inquirer article, “more than two-thirds of Philadelphia buildings were built more than 50 years ago, making them potentially eligible for local historic designation on the basis of age alone. Yet less than 3% of Philadelphia’s buildings are actually designated historic, and that sliver unfortunately reflects a predominantly white version of the city’s past.”

WMAN advocates for a preservation system that is less parochial and represents our neighborhood’s diverse heritage. In concert with other preservation organizations and individuals, we also support the urgent need for a review process as part of demolition permit applications.

Consider supporting the ongoing efforts of the Historic Preservation Initiative