When they met, Sean had been restoring his then nationally designated historic Victorian rowhouse in the Parkside neighborhood for about seven years. Isabelle had been living in her 1920’s rowhome on the edge of Morris Park in Overbrook Farms for about five years. She had initially fallen in love with that property, in part because of its being so close to the park, a slice of nature within the city.
Now engaged to be married, Sean and Isabelle keep sharing their passion for rebuilding and restoring the city of Philadelphia, that has become their home for almost two decades.
To this day, they are still restoring their homes on a shoe string, saving trashed objects from oblivion and bringing them back to life in their wallpapered dwellings. They have transformed a vacant lot that Sean had purchased the year before they met, from a blighted, trashed space into a vegetable garden – and every summer they share their tomatoes with the neighbors and the nearby firestation. They have been saving homes slated from demolition around Parkside, and have also fought to keep their local Overbrook library open – the Carnegie Library of Haddington, that the City of Philadelphia was trying to shut down during the harsh economic times of Winter ’08.
Sean and Isabelle’s continuous efforts have contributed to the success of these two at-risk West Philadelphia neighborhoods. In 2010, the Parkside neighborhood has become Locally designated of historical significance and Sean’s house was honored with a Philadelphia Historical Commission Plaque; for the neighborhood, it means that the homes cannot be altered in an inappropriate manner, contributing to the quality and integrity of this important area of the city; and Isabelle’s Overbrook Farms cottage has been part of the Overbrook Farms Club House Tour in 2009 and 2010, promoting rowhome quality of life in the city. And the Haddington Library is still open.
It could only be a natural progression for Sean and Isabelle to work together on restoring Morris Park, focusing on the area by Morris Park Road, where their cottage rowhome is located.
Their concept is that if you are so fortunate as to live right next to the park, you should be a steward of that park, as humble as your action may be – picking up after your dog, removing trash, or just taking a walk in the park, and making it a safer and friendlier place.
Please let us know if you have similar stories to share, of bringing your city, park, community or neighborhood back to life.