By Mike Dunn

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Historical Commission today put off a controversial vote on whether to designate Overbrook Farms — described as “Philadelphia’s first suburb” — as an historic district.

The grand homes of Overbrook Farms were mainly built in the late 19th century, many for Philadelphia’s leading industrialists.

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overbrook farms 2 Commission Delays Historic Designation For Philadelphias Overbrook Farms

(A home on Overbrook Street near 59th, in the Overbrook Farms section of Philadelphia. Credit: Smallbones)


“It’s a pre-automobile suburb, and that is why it’s so important,” notes Sam Sherman, chairman of the city’s Historical Commission. He supports the idea of designating Overbrook Farms as an historic district.

But Sherman and other commissioners opted today to delay a vote on the matter, in the face of opposition from some residents.

“It has to be something that’s done with as much agreement as possible,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Sherman says some residents misunderstand the impact of an historic designation, and he wants supporters and the commission to have more time to counter those arguments.

“There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there as to what a historic district designation does to a homeowner when they own a house in a district.  And I think as we move to educate the residents of Overbrook Farms, we anticipate that we would get majority buy-in to the process,” he says.  “We are hoping for that.”

Key issues that Sherman hopes to clear up are the extent to which the Historical Commission could hinder renovations to homes in the district, and the effect on property values.  “It’s not as scary as many people tend to think,” he adds.

The commission did not set a date at which it would take up the matter again.

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