Frank Weise and the Redevelopment of Philadelphia

Camac Village

Life History

 

Philadelphia Redevelopment

 

Camac Village

. . . “Also, please let it be understood that we in no way intend building anything similar to the monstrosities presently being built in the Society Hill section around 3 rd and Spruce. Our houses will be in an early American and European design that is evident throughout center city.” . . . Louis. B Glanzberg, Robert Russel Homes Inc

One of the housing development projects that Frank Weise designed during the early 1960’s was called Camac Village. It still stands today and is located on Lombard Street between 11 th and 12 th Street. The building numbers go from 1201 to 1217 Lombard Street. The project features the development of 56 lots with 5 plan types for new construction and numerous renovations.

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Analysis of Design

 

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..........................................Sanborn Map of 1200 block of Lombard Street: 1939

...........................1962 photograph of 1213-1215: Lombard Street. Courtesey: Historical Commission of Philadelphia
........1962 photograph of 1213-1215: Lombard Street. courtesey: Historical Commission of Philadelphia
   

......Map of 1200 block, Lombard Street done by Franklin Survey Company

 

The developer for the Camac Village was the Robert Russell Homes Incorporated who planned several other development projects in the area as well, although not all of them were designed by Frank Weise. The block on Lombard Street that they were interested in was made up of parking lots with the exception of 1213 and 1215 Lombard Street. In 1962 Robert Russell Homes Inc. (Camac Investment Company) was successful in purchasing the two properties from the homeowners. *as cited from the records of transfer, registry unit, Department of Records.

Sanborn maps show that the 1200 block of Lombard Street was unchanged between 1939 and 1958. The amount of centrally located vacant land on the maps and the lack of change over twenty years is an indication of the area was due for some kind of change.

Letter to Historical Commission of Philadelphia from Robert Russel. Courtsey Historical Commission, Philadelphia

Permission to demolish 1213 and 1215 was obtained from the Historical Commision on the grounds that the newer building they proposed would enhance the living conditions of the area far more than the preservation of the two remaining homes on the block on the desolate block. The proposal for Camac Village was in keeping with the scale and building materials that the older row houses were composed of. A clear distinction was made between the designs for their homes that were in keeping with the center city building tradition and some of the larger scale center city housing projects. (information about the transaction was obtained courtesy of the Philadelphia Hisorical Commission)