Lost in South Philly

New developments in South Philly have recently resulted in the loss of some historic and artistic fabric.

Mario Lanza’s childhood home at 636 Christian Street is currently being demolished, reports Nick Vadala in this piece at philly.com. Lanza, the South Philly-raised opera singer and movie star, spent his early years at the house. According to the article:

The two-floor rowhome, along with several other adjacent properties, will be replaced with two 43-foot-tall buildings that will share a gated driveway, according to proposed construction plans.

Lanza’s home is located around the corner from the Institute and Museum that bears his name which we wrote about last week.

636 Christian Street. Google Maps.

Hidden City has more information about the state historic marker at the Lanza home, as well a marker outside the home of another notable South Philadelphia artist, Frank Gasparro. Gasparro’s birthplace at 727 Carpenter was razed last summer. As the piece points out, the historic markers, “…provide zero legal protection to historic structures in Philadelphia.”

“Markers are dedicated to honor people, places and events,” said Sean Adkins, Digital Director of the PHMC. “The history of the subjects of the two historical markers in question, a significant musician and a significant artist, is unchanged by the demolition of the buildings where the markers are located.”

Frank Gasparro house, 727 Carpenter (on right) before demolition. Google Maps.
Gasparro house site. Google Maps.

Across South Philly, the soon-to-be-lost “Dream in Flight” mural on Point Breeze Avenue near Dickinson was featured in a recent piece on the BillyPenn blog about murals disappearing due to new construction.

Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden estimates around three murals per year are covered up by development. The problem isn’t new — but it’s only gotten worse as the pace of construction has spiked.

“We do our work against a backdrop of the city evolving,” Golden told Billy Penn. “Cities are fluid and dynamic and always moving. Nothing stays the same.”

Dream in Flight mural, Point Breeze Avenue & Dickinson St. Google Maps.