CCRA House & Garden Tour

Following a six-year hiatus, the Center City Residents Association (CCRA) House and Garden Tour is back! On Sunday, June 2, from 1-5 pm, this self-guided tour will feature nine stops in Rittenhouse and Fitler Square that will take your breath away. From a condo perched on the 29th floor of the Laurel, overlooking Rittenhouse Square, to a historic home tucked away on Van Pelt Street, you will have an opportunity to get a deeper appreciation of your community and fellow residents.

“Every year is different and this is the first time in 61 years that the tour will feature gardens,” said CCRA Managing Director, Travis Oliver. “We are anticipating over 500 to join the tour and there will be docents at every venue to guide the flow of visitors and answer your questions.”

This year, one of the venues will be at the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA), 1920 Spruce Street. Unless you are an opera lover, you may not know that AVA is a Frank Furness wonderland. Although this French Second Empire style townhouse was originally built in 1868-69, in 1881, the home’s third owner engaged Furness and his partner George W. Hewitt to re-design the first-floor interiors. Be prepared to ooh, ahh and take photos.  In the dining room, the elaborately carved mahogany woodwork and leaded glass water lily panels over the doorways are credited to Furness. 

AVA Theatre. Image: John Chew.

In 1902, Hewitt was responsible for the decorative plaster ceiling of the living room hall, and the music room which today serves as The Academy’s Helen Corning Warden Theater. There, you’ll find bas reliefs on themes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a mosaic inlaid fireplace, carved wooden beams, and seven oil-on-canvas paintings by Ellen Day Hale and Gabrielle de Veaux Clements. 

In 2000, AVA expanded, purchasing the adjacent townhouse at 1918 Spruce Street as well as a carriage house behind the property. Later, in 2008, AVA also purchased 1916 Spruce. The space between the three townhouses and the carriage house created AVA’s “secret garden,” an area rarely seen by the public. 

AVA Courtyard. Image: John Chew

Another featured garden on the tour is The Schuylkill River Park Community Garden (SRPCG), at 25th and Spruce, which was started in 1982. In 2009, the Garden joined the PHS City Harvest Program, which produces food donated to local non-profits to combat food insecurity. CCRC is proud to be one of the sponsors of this program.

A major attraction in this year’s tour is The Laurel, the newest and tallest residential building in Philadelphia. While you will not be able to saunter through the private residents’ “club” with a lap pool and views of the City’s skyline, you will be able to get a whiff of the ultra-lux lifestyle the new tower offers. Floors 3 to 25 are rental residences and from floors 26 to 50, there are 65 condominiums –  priced from $2,796,995 to $15,000,000. You’ll be touring one of those!

Tour tickets are $50. You may purchase them online by clicking on Registration or buy them at Rittenhouse Hardware, 2001 Pine St, (cash or check only) and at the CCRA office, 1900 Market St, FL 8. (Call 215-546-6719 to schedule pick-up). Tickets will also be available the day of the tour at the CCRA Tent in Rittenhouse Square where you may pick up a tour book and a complimentary water bottle. War comfy shoes and leave the kids at home. This is an adult-only tour.

While you’re out, have brunch at any of the below-participating restaurants and get a 10% discount off your bill. 

Solo Real Estate is delighted to be a sponsor of the CCRC House & Garden Tour which is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The largest civic organization in the City, CCRA promotes urban living; advocates for a safe, clean, diverse, and supportive community; pursues accountability; and encourages responsible development while preserving the neighborhood’s historic heritage. 

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