The main argument in Roxborough residents' efforts to save 5901 Ridge Ave. lies in the house's historical significance. And one Roxborough historian says the property, also known as the Bunting House, is too important to meet the bulldozer, as city permits allow.
Author of both Victorian Roxborough and A Splendid Legacy: St. Timothy's, Roxborough, historian John C. Manton said the Victorian home and work done by Dr. Ross R. Bunting are important to Roxborough's history. And the demolition permit secured by Giovannone Construction Inc. would remove another link to Ridge Avenue's past.
"Roxborough is a blue-collar community... We don't have the prominent people that Germantown or Chestnut Hill have. After Dearnley and Langhurst, Bunting is one of the biggest names here and is a connection to our past," Manton said.
According to Manton's research, Bunting was a prominent Philadelphia physician in the post-Civil War area. He earned his medical degree from what is now Jefferson University and was the one of the first Americans to receive a diploma from the University of Paris.
He purchased the corner lot at Ridge and Roxborough Avenus in 1879, where, according to U.S. Census data, he built the stone home in 1880.
Manton wrote that at the home: "he carried on his practice of medicine in Roxborough for 20 years, eventually rising to a position of prominence through his membership in various organizations and institutions, eg. the Philadelphia County Medical Club, College of Physicians, Saint Timothy's Memorial Hospital, and the Roxborough Home for Women (the Gorgas Home). He was the author of many scholarly articles and works in the field of medicine."
In his work on Roxborough's architecture, Manton discussed the home's uniqueness. He said the house's style is Second Empire Period (named after the French's second empire). His book notes that although owners added the brick chimney and removed roof cresting, many original aspects remain.
"Most notable is the projecting bay tower on the north end, not exceeding the height of the roof."
Bunting is buried just the street in St. Timothy's Episcopal Church cemetery. His tombstone, a gray granite cross, is one of the cemetery's most unique graves, as the large cross lies flat on the ground.
Earlier this week, Giovannone Construction Inc. announced a tentative 30-day delay of its plans to demolish the home and vacant lot. The company contends the renovation needed for the interior costs to much and the current condition makes it difficult to secure a tenant.
The company legally secured city permits and, after neighborhood backlash, agreed to discuss a way to preserve the property. As of Friday, Giovannone Construction Inc. agreed to a 30-day demolition delay to reach an amicable agreement.
As a local historian, Manton has witnessed the struggle to preserve historic buildings before. The Dearnley Mansion was demolished, but the Langhurst Home was preserved and exists as the headquarters for Intercommunity Action at 6012 Ridge Ave.
Manton's passion for Roxborough's history led him to write several books on it. He's afraid someday, those books will be all that remains.
"It seems like every building I put in that book has a date with the wrecking crew," he said.