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Preservation Pennsylvania Announces Presser Senior Apartments as Award Recipient

Nolen Properties, LLC and the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development announce that Presser Senior Apartments has been awarded a 2011 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award by Preservation Pennsylvania. Nolen Properties transformed a historic vacant property on West Johnson Street in Mt. Airy into 45 affordable apartments for senior citizens.


Presser was also recognized earlier this year for historic preservation and impact on community revitalization with a Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.


Jim Nolen, President of Nolen Properties, said, “Preserving the original character and fabric of the building was a priority in this rehabilitation. The history of the building and that of the entire neighborhood should be celebrated. A big thank you to the community partners who made this development possible and to Preservation PA for recognizing the importance of this building’s past and future.”


Originally commissioned by sheet music publisher and philanthropist Theodore Presser, the Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers is a grand 52,248 square foot building. The original Presser Home building was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Seymour & Davis and completed in 1914.


The building became vacant in 2002, suffered significant deterioration and was a candidate for demolition under prior owners. A coalition of community groups formed to prevent this demolition, and in 2005 they succeeded in adding the Presser Home to the National Register of Historic Places.


Nolen Properties acquired the property in 2006 with the promise to restore it to the original beauty and keep its historic integrity. Architect JKR Partners led the design team that fully restored the interior and exterior of the building.



Design highlights include:


  • The renovation of the exterior restored the original Italian Renaissance style features with smooth buff roman brick, limestone, and terra cotta trim.
  • The building’s interior renovation maintained and restored or replicated all the original hallways, including the 10 foot wide corridors, 12 foot high ceilings, and original decorative millwork.
  • The first floor corridor had its original mosaic tile detail fully restored, which required hand-cleaning with toothbrushes to preserve the color and texture.
  • The locations of original hallway doors were retained to maximize the historic accuracy.
  • All new windows meet the original design standards while being fully energy efficient.
  • The grounds preserved mature trees.
  • A portion of the original wrought iron hairpin fence has been salvaged, restored and reinstalled in front of the building.
  • The rear courtyard has been refinished with brick pavers, benches, planting areas and umbrella tables to serve as the residents’ central gathering place in the warmer months.
  • The former Recital Hall has been carefully and accurately restored with its original warm oak floors.


Each apartment will also feature modern amenities including internet access with fiber-optic connectivity and Energy Star® appliances.


Deborah McColloch, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said, “Presser not only provides thoughtfully designed apartments for seniors, but makes a significant impact on the entire neighborhood. It preserves history, while providing a strong cornerstone for the community’s future. The City is proud to have been a partner in this important development.”


Preservation PA will hold an awards ceremony in Gettysburg on September 30th. For more information, visit

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