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Old Bones, New Soul in Washington Square West

Posted on December 3, 2018


We’ve seen modern makeovers of classic 18th- and 19th-century Philadelphia townhouses before, but it’s been a long, long, long time since we’ve seen one as masterful as this one. If, indeed, we’ve ever seen one as masterful as this.

And it happened because its builder felt the neighborhood calling to him.

It was the summer of last year, and Maxim Capital CEO Max Bassman was looking for new projects to take on. “The neighborhood was the first thing that spoke to me,” he says. “Then to find this kind of property in this neighborhood. The outdoor space is extremely unique in this part of the city, and the access to Clinton Street in the rear is unique as well.”

Yes, this dignified home just west of Pennsylvania Hospital on Pine Street in Washington Square West backs onto one of the most prized residential streets in all Center City. And as the renderings you see here should make clear, it will be a prize in itself when it’s finished sometime around December.

Bassman knew that in redoing this home, he wanted to retain its 19th-century soul but did not want to go the slavish faithful-restoration route in order to do so. “In Wash West and Society Hill, you have dime-a-dozen homes with all the original floors that creak, all the original moldings, all the period details,” he says. “This home is modern through and through.”

And yet it incorporates some elements of that traditional style, like the high ceilings and split-level floors characteristic of mid-19th-century Philadelphia townhomes. While the main floor is completely level, the upper floors remain staggered as they were.

Another unique feature of this home is its rear courtyard, which features a deck level with the kitchen, a raised fire pit, a grill and the passageway to Clinton Street. What makes it unique, says IT Properties Vice President Tarek Raslan, is that it offers total privacy: “There are no windows looking into the garden” from adjacent properties.

Did we mention details? Kristin Daly and Suzanne Johansson-Cawley, who lead the Daly Group / PhillyLuxury at Keller Williams Philly and is marketing this house, says, “Max doesn’t overlook the details. Even the laundry room is an important space; it’s already designed for usability. He has the foresight to see what people want so they don’t have to do anything when they move in.”

Well, almost. Bassman says he also creates spaces that owners can adapt to their own purposes. “I also don’t want to dictate what people do with every space. For instance, there’s a big open space on the fourth floor that could be used as a gym, a home office, a fifth bedroom, or something else,” he says. “I just future-proofed it and the homeowner can figure out what to do with it.”

Luxurious fittings and cutting-edge fixtures abound in this home. The basement, for instance, boasts a full wet bar with two Sub-Zero wine column storage units that hold 146 bottles each. It’s also wired for a home theater with an 84-inch projection TV. There’s recessed gallery-quality LED lighting throughout and a full home automation system that’s also wired for security cameras.

This home also offers a roof deck on the fourth floor with a lovely view of the skyline and access to all the shops, restaurants, antique dealers and clubs that give Wash West its unique vibe right outside this one-of-a-kind oasis.


BEDS: 4 (optional 5)

BATHS: 4 full, 1 half

SQUARE FEET: 4,500 (approximate)

SALE PRICE: $2,495,000

OTHER STUFF: If you want a place to stash your car as well, the listing agent can offer you a deeded parking space in a 50-space garage a block and a half to the north on Ninth Street as part of the package. The space is being offered as a 99-year leasehold for $50,000 plus an annual fee of $1,500 that covers maintenance, insurance and a share of the property taxes. And, of course, this home will have its full 10-year tax abatement.

905 Pine St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107

Article written by Sandy Smith for Philadelphia Magazine

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