New Digs: Industry and Artistry in East Kensington

Buying a house is a huge financial decision. But it’s more than that too. Our homes and neighborhoods define who we are and the lives we’ll lead. In New Digs, our latest blog series, we speak with Solo clients about the lessons they learned finding a new place to call home.


The Milk Depot Lofts in East Kensington look like the too-good-to-be-true urban apartments you see on TV. With a collection of airy, industrial-chic dwellings housed in a 25,000 square foot converted milk processing plant, a loft here is the polar opposite of the kind you’d find in a typical, cookie-cutter city apartment building. And that’s just what arts educator Ruth McGee loves about her new home.


Ruth, a teacher at a local Quaker high school, spent the past three years living in a highrise building along the Delaware River. Eventually, she decided that the building’s short-term leases and separation from Center City kept it from having the community feel she craved. Contacting Solo Realty, Ruth was willing to look nearly everywhere to find an apartment that was both in a great neighborhood that would and also gave her room to practice her passion for clay sculpting. Bouncing from open house to open house, Ruth was focused on finding a space with which she truly connected, saying that “I figured I’d know it when I found the place for me.”


Ruth worked with Deborah Solo, who eventually brought her to East Kensington to see the Milk Depot Lofts. “I think Deborah had a really good sense of what I was looking for” Ruth notes. After scoping out the area (and being impressed by its short distance to the Market-Frankford line’s Berks Station), she got a chance to go inside and see building’s quirky charm, which includes two enormous vintage milk boilers and an inviting central courtyard. Impressed, Ruth continued on to Apartment 201 and knew she had found her new home.


The Milk Depot Lofts (left), seen from Amber Street, are full of industrial relics, like this huge original milk sanitizer (right).


With high ceilings and expansive windows, this corner unit gets hours of bright sunlight, something that Ruth, who has begun to paint in addition to her clay work, found to be a great asset. The apartment’s somewhat raw space also gave her room to adapt it to her needs. Finally, the building’s relatively small number of units, populated by artists and creative professionals, was a great antidote for the anonymity of her Delaware Avenue highrise. “I appreciated the fact that there are artistic people around. It really adds to the community feel of the building” Ruth says.


The apartment's soaring ceilings (left) and bright, natural light attracted artist Ruth (right) to Unit 201.
The apartment’s soaring ceilings (left) and bright, natural light attracted artist Ruth (right) to Unit 201.


Quickly going into contract, Ruth says her neighbors in her old building were a little shocked, not just because she was moving to a loft, but because that loft was in Kensington. But with the building’s hip location and industrial charm, along with its ample room and bonus basement-studio space, Ruth says the decision was an easy one.


Ruth still has some changes to make to the apartment, but overall she’s very pleased with her decision. Better still, as an artist who draws inspiration from her environment, Ruth is excited by the ways in which the industrial aesthetic of her new home and neighborhood will influence her sculpting and painting. “I can’t wait to see what happens!” Ruth declares with a smile.

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