By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The future is uncertain for an iconic South Philadelphia building that many have seen but few have used lately.

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The 1894 Engine 46 building, at Reed and Water Streets, was last used as a firehouse in the 1950’s, and as a restaurant for 10 years prior to 2006.  Now, it’s owned by a developer with a demolition permit but no publicized plans.

“We didn’t find out about it being listed for possible demolition until after it was brought to our attention by someone who happened to be walking by one day, and saw the sign and at this point we can’t even find out what their specific plans are,” says Dr. James Moylan, head of the Pennsport Civic Association. “Something that old, that specific, that designatable, that well-designed — it seemed to be a part of the neighborhood and we don’t want to lose everything and have it all destroyed in the name of progress.”

Trouble is, the building is not actually designated as historic, but Benjamin Leech of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia says it ought to be.

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“The firehouse was sort of a neighborhood icon and it was designed to be noticed. And the style, which is sort of this Dutch revival, stands out,” including to people zipping north on I-95.

Leech says the decision would be up to the Historical Commission.

“It was most active in designating things 20 or 30 years ago and people’s conceptions of what the most important buildings in the city were were different than they are now.”

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