Here’s another story of survival and renewal, building-style. I thought of leaving a sunshine here after I had mentioned the old theater building earlier. This building is even more familiar to me – it is located just across from the Glenside train station.
The Roberts Block, as it is known, was built about 90 years ago. At that time, the train tracks ran straight across Easton Road, the main street in Glenside. As the area developed and traffic increased, the intersection became dangerous. The road was lowered beneath the tracks, I think in the 1920’s – now the train travels an overpass. The Roberts Block was stranded. It no longer faced an active road, just a parking lot.
The building declined over many years. When I first saw it 20 years ago, it was semi-abandoned. A few barely-surviving businesses occupied the downstairs storefronts and the upstairs apartments saw tenants come and go. Finally, the building caught on fire a few years ago. Damaged, it sat while legal proceedings crept along. It was boarded up and local college students were commissioned to paint murals on the plywood-covered windows. It was an eyesore. And since it occupied a central location, it was always on everyone’s mind. What will happen to it?
A happy ending, that’s what. Someone bought it, is renovating it, and we can look forward to a new restaurant, other shops, and apartments. The building is saved and ready for a new life.
So, we went out in a pouring cold rain to set a sunshine at this location. I put it next to one of the main doors. I think it will be safe here until someone sees it and takes it away.
I realize that I am drawn to these stories of renewal right now. It encourages me to think of this building lasting all this time and getting another chance. Winter will end and spring will come.
More about the Sunshine Project right here. Or search under the category heading “Sunshine Project”.