On the Market: Restored Francisville row home for $750,000
On the Market profiles homes for sale in the Philadelphia region.
When Joel Schmitt purchased the Francisville row home located at 743 North 17th Street in 2004, he thought he was about to invest in a multi-unit renovation project.
Little did he know, his plans would change. Soon after he started to clear out the home, something clicked, and he realized he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live there instead of just renting the space out.
“After removing some of the non-weight bearing walls, the rooms offered such a high amount of living space and the light really started to pour in,” he said. “As I continued to work on the house, I started to think of how awesome it could be to live in something this grand.”
Schmitt, who at the time was living in the Art Museum area with his wife, Tara, had no intention of moving. But he grew to love some of the details of the row home, such as the hardwood floors, staircases, and high ceilings, which prompted the couple to make the last second decision.
Instead of converting the 4,000-square-foot property in the north Philadelphia neighborhood into a small apartment complex like he had originally planned, Schmitt decided to renovate the home into a single-family “mini-mansion” instead, and move there with his wife. The property had previously only been occupied on the first floor, with the top two floors untouched for years, filled with garbage and debris.
Schmitt worked on the renovations for about a year to make it the ideal home for him and his family with five bedrooms, and two-and-a-half baths. He says what was most important to him was to keep some of the home’s original features – such as the curved door openings with the crown moldings, hardwood floors, and the two staircases – from when it was built nearly a century ago.
“I tried to save the original character of the house,” Schmitt said. “It felt like a sin to destroy such a nice property.”
One of the rooms Schmitt converted that he takes great pride in is the 300-square-foot wine cellar. The room had been used as a coal room in the basement, which Schmitt says was a “wet, dark, scary place,” when he first saw it. However, he saw a lot of potential to turn it into something great.
To complete the room, he cleared the debris, removed the old boiler, added in floor tiles, and then put in the wine rack. Schmitt then finished the other half of the basement as well.
Another major renovation was the addition of the large master bathroom, which Schmitt says was his favorite feature in the home.
“I took an old bedroom and made the entire room into the master bath,” he said, “[which includes] the double sinks, washer and dryer, his and her walk-in closets and a large two person walk-in shower with multiple showerheads.”
Schmitt also expanded the kitchen by tearing down the wall that divided the dining room and kitchen. He put in granite counters, new cabinets, and stone slate tiles.
One of the other new features, which Schmitt says took the most work, is a two-level roof deck with a hot-tub.
“The view was breathtaking,” he said. “Being on 17th Street I have never seen a better view of downtown Center City.”
After just shy of a decade of living there, the Schmitts have now put the home on the market for $750,000. The couple has two young kids now, and is looking to move to the suburbs to be closer to family.
While he didn’t originally plan on living in Francisville, Schmitt says he has grown to love the area as he has seen it progress over the years.
“The diverse neighborhood has such a great Philadelphia feel to it and really makes you appreciate city living,” he said.