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Abandoned Spring Garden School Will Be Converted Into Housing For Low Income Seniors & Homeless Vets

Images Courtesy of Patrick Lebrun

Abandoned Spring Garden School Will Be Converted Into Housing For Low Income Seniors & Homeless Vets


For decades Spring Garden School No. 1 has been a popular destination for “urban spelunking,”  which is essentially exploring abandoned buildings.  Over the the years the inside of the school has remained relatively intact including desks and text books strewn about.  Of course there is a fair amount of defacing but several “high quality street-art” pieces can be found here according to David Cleghorn, senior vice primg_7948esident of real estate development of Help USA who are spearheading the renovations.  This past August Help USA began work on transforming this defunct school into a sanctuary for low income seniors and homeless vets.

Constructed in 1927, Spring Garden School No. 1 (located on  12th Street between Ogden and Parrish Streets) was designed by renowned architect Irwin Thornton Catharine and eventually became a local landmark when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.  The three story school will house 37 apartments for low income seniors with 12 units set aside for homeless vets.  The transformation looks to be an indefinite endeavor considering that Help USA executed a 99 year lease which includes section 8 vouchers for all of the residents.

Since the school is registered as a historic place, the cost of the renovations are exponentially higher than what it would’ve normally costed otherwise.  In fact according to Philly.com  the cost for asbestos removal alone is a whopping $300,000.  Couple that with the scores of new img_7947wooden windows needed and we’re talking a pretty penny.  The total cost of the renovations is estimated to be about $13.6 million.  Luckily Help USA has secured assistance via grants and tax credits which included a credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency as well as donations to reach the $13.6 million needed for the project.

If Help USA sounds familiar it’s because they have already completed a handful of similar projects around Philadelphia to help impoverished residents as well as veterans.  Their largest project came in the form of a 63 unit apartment building at 61st & Eastwick Ave., which Help USA restored and provided housing for seniors as well as office space for agencies that support veterans and families.

The area itself has been the center of several notable restoration projects including the Divine Lorraine and Mural Arts Building, both of which are located a short walk away.   Looks like builders are finding the beauty in many of Philadelphia’s lost and forgotten structures that bring unmatched character and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.



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