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August 6, 2009

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The Chestnut Hill Local
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Mt. Airy landmark destroyed by fire
Historic house designed by noted architect

Firefighters connect hose lines as fire engulfs the historic Garrett-Dunn house at 7048 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy.
The house, built in the 1850s, was designed by the noted 19th century architect Thomas U.  Walter, who also designed the dome and the Senate and House wings of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Photo by Walter Fox)

The Garrett-Dunn House, a historic landmark at Germantown and Mt. Pleasant avenues in Mt. Airy, was destroyed in a spectacular two-alarm fire Sunday that showered large pieces of charred debris over an area of several blocks.

Within minutes of the first report at 11:45 a.m., the building was engulfed in flames, sending up a plume of black smoke that could be seen throughout Mt. Airy. The fire was declared under control at 12:24 p.m.

As the Local went to press, the cause of the fire was still under investigation by the Fire Commissioner’s office.

The house, which was listed on both the national and Philadelphia register of historic places, had been part of a plan by developer John Capoferri to turn it and the adjoining stone barn into five luxury residences in a project that would also include the construction of 14 new townhouses on the property.

Work on the project came to a standstill in April 2008 when Capoferri’s funds ran out, but not before contractors had removed the house’s stucco façade, leaving the building open to the elements.



Hill area shut down by power outage

Lindsay Rosenberg and her mother stood outside a dark and empty Penzey’s Spices in the late morning of Friday, July 31, slightly confused, but more disappointed.

“I took a day off work to go shopping,” Rosenberg said.

She had a wedding to attend in five hours and was planning to purchase a spicy wedding gift basket, an item available only at Penzey’s. But when she arrived at the shop, she learned from a handwritten sign posted to the door that the store was closed because of a power outage.



Apartment complex cited for 13 fire-code violations

The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections has cited Fairfield Management LP for 13 fire-code violations at its Henry on the Park apartment complex, 7901 Henry Ave., where a July 14 arson fire injured four people and displaced at least eight tenants.

The violations included failure to certify fire alarms, fire extinguishers and emergency electrical equipment on a yearly basis; failure to repair emergency lighting and a “defective” manual fire alarm box, and failure to replace “inoperable” smoke alarms or detectors.


OARC sues Mt. Airy landlord in dispute over parking area

It would seem that all was not well between Jack Kitchen and David Fellner despite both men’s claims to the contrary just two weeks ago. A lawsuit that was filed last week by OARC, the community development corporation Kitchen heads, accuses Fellner of fraud in negotiations concerning the North by Northwest night club.



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