It’s a crying shame to see bits and pieces of the fabric of our neighborhoods lost at this stage of the city’s rebirth. Especially in Allentown. This past July, an arsonist set fire to 486 Franklin Street, a beautiful two and a half storey brick house with five apartments. The building suffered from extensive roof damage. Since that time, the outcome has looked grim for this quaint residence. Now it appears as if a demolition is in order. A notice has been posted on the front of the house, stating that any remaining property on the inside must be removed by December 12, due to imminent demolition.
This is bad news for Allentown. Each time the historic district loses a structure of this nature, the whole of the neighborhood suffers. Franklin and Linwood are two of our most precious streets in the city. Already, we have seen other historic buildings come down on the streets, which were replaced with lame substitutes or even parking lots. Thankfully the streets are mostly intact, but this pending demolition is a mighty blow to the tight-knit historic fabric of this particular block.
486 Franklin Street sits right next to Café 59 – to the south. Over the years, I have documented a number of public artworks that have emanated from this structure. One artisan, who I believe was living in the dwelling, created a wonderful industrial chaise chair that sat out on the front lawn for an extended period of time. Other works of art, including one that still sits behind the building, have also appeared from time to time. I always looked at this house as a slice of the bohemian neighborhood, because it encompassed all of the elements that made Allentown so mystical and majestic. Now we’re going to lose those this significant piece of Allentown history due to a selfish and crazed act that took away a charming piece of the city that can never be replaced. Hopefully something else will be built on this property that is worthy of the Allentown name. Justice must be served for this house.