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East Falls Development Corporation and Brinton Housing Partners, in cooperation with the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, approached KSK Architects Planners Historians, Inc. to investigate this gem of a building along Philadelphia’s Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park. The Bathey House was originally a changing facility for a city swimming pool that had been abandoned and filled in. Its location along Kelly Drive, near major traffic arteries, a thriving neighborhood, and an intensely used recreational trail, created an opportunity to connect a dense neighborhood to a recreational activity along the Schuylkill River. KSK investigated the stabilization, restoration, and reuse of the one-story masonry building and site for a proposed combined use as a gateway facility, including a café and bike rental concession.

Twenty years of deferred maintenance caused several original wood trusses to deteriorate almost to the point of failure. Steel jacking, uneven distribution of roof loads, and excessive earth fill contributed to significant bowing of the walls in some locations.

The entire roof was rebuilt. Two windows were added in front. The brick walls were stabilized, insulated to meet energy codes, and flood-proofed against the potentially rising Schuylkill. Green features include natural light via light tubes and thermal hot water. Careful planning made the entire facility wheelchair accessible with a new ramp and compact restrooms. The rear patio features a kitchen garden and provides a lively place for an additional 50 patrons during warmer weather.

As envisioned, the Bathey House today houses the Trolley Car Café, and a bike rental concession and repair shop. The project won a Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia in 2011.
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