Ryan Straub knows the River Wards.
“I was born and raised in Kensington my whole life,” he said.
Straub founded Neighborhood Real Estate three years ago and has since invested in properties in Bridesburg, Kensington and Port Richmond. When a renter moved out of a home on Edgemont Street in Port Richmond, Straub said, he knew now was the time to sell.
“Port Richmond is one of the most stable neighborhoods possibly in the city of Philadelphia,” he said. “It’s always been stable and undervalued.”
The community has experienced renewed interest because of the growth of Fishtown’s real estate market, Straub said.
“Fishtown is becoming too expensive,” he said. “In reality, it should have happened prior to this.”
When his tenant moved out of the Edgemont Street home in February, Straub wanted to make structural upgrades as much as cosmetic ones. He refinished the original hardwood floors throughout, added granite in the kitchen and new recessed lighting, new central air, and new doors. He also added a powder room to the first floor.
But best detail in the home was discovered by accident.
Straub already knew he wanted to expose the brick behind one of the home’s walls. When he realized one side of the property had a small hole in the wall already, it helped him make his decision. That’s when he saw the mural.
“Basically we found it by accident,” he said.
As best as he can surmise (Straub said they’ve tried to uncover research to no avail), the neighboring property once featured an exterior billboard for the Bloch Brothers Chew and Smoke Mail Pouch Tobacco Company. At some point, Straub’s home was built next door in the 1920s, covering up the billboard for nearly a century. Bloch Brothers, founded in 1879, was known for its hand painted wall ads, many of them on the sides of barns.
“Once we saw it in the front bedroom, I said, ‘Hey, it has to be downstairs in the living room and most likely in the hallway, too,’” he said.
Today the mural is exposed throughout the home. “It’s literally one of a kind,” Straub said.
He expects buyers will be as interested in the unusual art as they are in the burgeoning 19134 zip code. “This block is the heart of the neighborhood,” he said.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house is listed for $299,700.