Neighbors continue fight to halt demoltion of historic Pearson House in Germantown

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A grassroots effort has been in the works over the past couple of days to block the demolition of the historic Pearson House in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

It's been a contentious issue for six months with passionate neighbors fighting to keep the property at 5139 Wayne Avenue intact. The home, built in 1852, belonged to famous painter Joseph T. Pearson.

"It's about a neighborhood making sure their issues and concerns are addressed," PA Rep. Darisha K. Parker said. "What we need is answers to why a historic building can't be preserved."

It's been a passionate battle. Neighbors this week camped outside the home to preserve the piece of history.

"People in the neighborhood want to come out every day until we know the home is legally protected," concerned neighbor Ann Peters said.

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Philadelphia police were called out to the Germantown section on Wednesday morning as neighbors tried to intervene with a planned demolition.

Residents noticed Wednesday that despite their petition to protect the home, the chimney and part of the roof appeared to be demolished by a contracting company. Neighbors said there was no proper notice.

"There was no permit posted. Neighbors were not notified that anything was going to happen. There were no safety precautions," Dennis Barneby said.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections said in a statement: "The property owner has a valid demolition permit. The contractor failed, however, to meet with L&I inspectors before the demolition."

Because of that, L&I has issued a stop-work order to halt the demolition until requirements have been met. It's not clear how long that will take.

Neighbors are open to the infrastructure being turned into affordable apartments for people in the community.

"We have an appeal in. We're still not getting clear answers on who's hearing the appeal. While they [the developer] try to get permits for sidewalk closures, we're trying to get ready for our day in court," Barneby said.

Action News has reached out to the developer for comment but we have not heard back.
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