In Part 2 of our interview with Jane Theis, she tells us about the incredible jewelry equipment, gemstones, and other treasures that she is “destashing” from the former Franco-American Jewelry that had been on Jewelers’ Row since the 1940s.
Then below, Jane talks about how Jewelers’ Row has changed in the 40 years that she’s been there as well as her opinions on the proposed development that is forcing her and many others out of their studios.
JT: Back in the day, Seymour…I’m destashing Seymour’s stuff. Saundra owns the building. Her brother is Seymour. Their father bought the building in the 1940s. And the name of their company was Franco-American Jewelry. The best jewelry of the day was French. So, Franco-American was the American connection to French quality. They did a ton of manufacturing…die striking, lead casting.
Just to get the chronology down: Moe, the father, the patriarch, ran the business until he retired, I guess in the 70s. Seymour took over the business. And that was the first floor store where Maryanne Ritter is now. When business was hot, when stuff was going on, they did well. But business tapered off and they had to farm everything out and they got to the point where they just weren’t paying the expense for the space. So, Saundra owns the building, she says well you’re not really doing business, you’re not really open for business and I can rent this room so she moves Seymour and his worldly goods into other spaces in the building. Ostensibly into two rooms on the second floor. So about 15-20 years ago, she moves Seymour and all his stuff – it was a good idea. And the overflow that didn’t fit in those two rooms was put in the basement. They put a combination lock on the door and walked away and no one stepped foot in that room for 15 years. So, Seymour’s about to turn 80 and they need to get rid of some of this stuff, they need the money. So, Seymour can’t do any of this and he can’t use the internet so they tapped me to do it because I’ve known them since I was 18. So, going on 4 years ago, she said take this room, start selling for Seymour, I get a certain percentage, they get rid of Seymour’s stuff, it’s all good.
KW: What kind of stuff is it?
JT: Everything. Mostly tools, gemstones, weird random crap. And I’m not kidding. This is the group, HighArt Destash on Facebook. Over 2400 members worldwide.
KW: All of this is Seymour’s?
JT: Yeah, and there’s years to go. Tools, gemstones, molds.
KW: Do you find that it mostly goes to people in the industry?
JT: Oh yeah. Whether they’re hobbyists or professionals, yeah.
KW: So, you went in and you inventoried all of this?
JT: God no, there’s no inventory. I just open a box and sell it.
KW: I mean, you go through it, take it out, photograph it, and put it online?
JT: Oh yeah, it’s all me.
KW: How is it not the only thing you do all the time?
JT: That is the loaded question. Well, it was. And it was making me nuts. And I’m really over it. I’m really a creative person and I want to get back to my bench. And now with the building being for sale, I’m pushed to get rid of this and I’m pushed to pack up my own stuff. And I actually haven’t worked in really 2 months. So just the last few days I just started listing on Facebook and eBay again to make some money and get rid of stuff.
KW: How long was Seymour in this building?
JT: Since he was a kid. I don’t know, he’s 84-85 and his parents bought the building in the 1940s. He grew up in the jewelry business. Saundra grew up doing some of the jewelry stuff. She told me she remembers pulling waxes which is shooting liquid wax into molds. She remembers doing that as busy work, you know, leave me alone kid go make yourself useful. She inherited the building, Seymour inherited the business. That’s how they split her father’s estate. The business did not survive the 70s really. Saundra still has the building but Seymour doesn’t really have much of a business left.
JT: It’s a hell of a group, it’s so much fun.
KW: And they’re from all over? That’s amazing.
JT: Oh yeah. Finland, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, all over America. I could write books just on shipping. I don’t want to but I could.
KW: Have you thought about getting help inventorying all of Seymour’s stuff [in order to] try and get it out faster?
JT: Well, it’s so scattered. I have an overview because I’ve been doing this now going on four years. Plus, I knew Seymour for god…twenty, thirty years before I even started this project, so I kind of already had an overview of the stuff. To get somebody in here, I would just have to supervise them constantly. It wouldn’t really be much of a help and then they’re going to be another vampire on the money train, because I’m going to have to pay them for their time. And nobody could do it without instructions, so I’m getting half as much done because I’m showing them what to do. It’s not really practical. I think about it all the time and I do actually have a friend of mine who comes in. When I was doing this full speed ahead, I had two racks, two or three rows over there that were all boxes, and five boxes here that were all envelopes and people could run a tab, keep buying stuff week after week and then ship them when their box is full and they loved it. And I had somebody, my friend Angela would come in once a week and help sort the orders and send invoices and that was great, because [she] didn’t need to know where everything is, everything is just right here and you just invoice and it’s all good. But now it’s so sporadic and she’s in school and doesn’t have the time… When we first got notification that the building sold, I invoiced everybody. That’s why there’s not nearly as much stuff… But now I’ve started selling again, because Seymour needs money, because I need money, and because we still have all this stuff. So, I’ve started selling again and I don’t know how exactly I’m going to handle it. [Angela] still wants to come in and do the invoicing for me, but now she’s in school, so it’s weird. We’ll figure it out. It’ll all get done.
AJ: That’s the creative mantra, right?
JT: Yeah, I mean, none of it is rocket science. Nobody’s going to die. I’m not curing cancer. It’s not polio. It’s all going to get done.
KW: You need to get some of those couple thousand people who are following you on the Destash to come in. Give them a couple of the glass containers…
JT: I know! A few of them have actually come in. We actually have a folder of people who have come in and picked up. In fact, I had someone just last week come in and pick stuff up. Another person is supposed to come in and pick up those gray cabinets and some of the other random stuff I have scattered around some of the stuff in the basement. Yeah, there are 2,116 members.
KW: Yeah, we’re two. I tried to get some of those glass bottles. Too high for my blood.
JT: Those glass bottles, yeah I have a case of those… $30 for six of them. Yeah. This was the big thing. This little silver box. $74 and it’s plated.
KW: Yeah, I saw that pop up.
JT: It’s not that special. I mean, it’s well made… $74! Okay, I don’t tell you how to spend your money. These are [on the Facebook page] photos from the beginning and I could sit here and show you photos for hours of all this stuff we have listed. And weird memes that we did for Jewelers’ Row… we do lots of memes. It’s a really fun group… there’s videos of stuff from the beginning, like of the basement and the second floor room that eventually got vacated [of Seymour’s inventory] and is now rented to someone else…
HOW JEWELERS’ ROW HAS CHANGED:
KW: So, there are a couple of things we’ve been asking everybody. One is, what do you think makes Jewelers’ Row a special place?
JT: Community, without a doubt. Especially when I started back in 1978ish… women could be salespeople or they could be pearl stringers and that was it. ‘Cause they had to keep their hands clean to be pearl stringers. It’s delicate, tedious work. So, you can be a pearl stringer, or you can be a sales person, ‘cause you’re pretty. But other than that, [women] jewelers got no respect. They could never actually own a shop, be a boss, be management. They were never given any respect as having skills, as being mechanics, you know, and it changed. And I was part of the vanguard I’d have to say now in retrospect, of women coming [and saying], “damn it, respect me. I’m doing a job and I’m doing it well. Get out of my way!” It was never a bad thing. It was always evolutionary and no one was resentful… I never had any resistance really. Even from the old school jewelers and now the same issues – they just don’t exist. Women now, nobody cares. Women can be mechanics, women can be wax carvers – more than pearl stringers, more than salesmen. Men can actually be salesmen. What a concept. Buy yourself a suit. You know – now that doesn’t even exist anymore. That double standard doesn’t even exist. And it used to be all Jews and a few Italians, now there’s a lot of Asians and a lot of Russians. Tang’s is taking over the street. They must own at least four or five buildings now. And I’ve never heard anything bad about them. They do a great job, they do put out a quality product, they take really great care of their buildings. So, God bless ‘em. Great, good for you. Diversity is a good thing. You know, I grew up in a very homogeneous neighborhood, I mean, it was all white people. The first black person that I knew on a personal level, I asked to touch his hair and I didn’t know it was a cliché… I didn’t know any better. That’s just the way I was raised. I didn’t know any Jews. It was just white bread. That’s just the way it was. It was public school, but that’s just the way it was. And I came down here and it’s amazing, I know people from all over the world. Literally, from every country, different continents. Diversity is great. Diversity is a good thing. And I’m glad to have broken that. I love my ethnic friends. This is great. I wish I’d grown up with more diversity. I just didn’t know any better, I was a kid. I just didn’t know.
So, that’s certainly changed, but still throughout it what has been consistent is community. As much as this is a little enclave of jewelers and we’re ostensibly in competition with each other, we’re really not. I mean, there’s a few people that are a little cutthroat, but we don’t really deal with them that much. But most of us, we all just work together… I took my sister-in-law’s ring in to size it, because I couldn’t be bothered, I took it to my friend Michele and because it was for my sister-in-law, she said, “don’t worry about it.” You know, if it’s your family, nobody charges you.
Little old ladies never have to pay for watch batteries. They don’t… It’s just always been that way, it’s just the way that it is.
Jewelers have the show room in the front and a workshop in the back. Well, jewelers I can walk right into somebody’s workshop. I don’t even think about it, they don’t care about it. You just walk in, sit down, you shoot the shit. They don’t have to worry, because it’s just honor amongst jewelers. You don’t have to worry about your stuff. Because it’s one thing if you pick something up and put it in your pocket and it’s something they own. But chances are it could belong to a customer and that’s really going to put them in deep shit. And you just don’t do it. Just like I said, any number of these stores, you just walk in and sit down, I pick stuff up and I look at it, I put it back. They don’t have to worry about it and I don’t worry about it when they’re in my studio. A friend’s in here, I’ll leave, I’ll go to the bathroom, I’ll go run errands… I know I don’t have to worry about that and that’s the community aspect of it. You know we always take care of each other, if somebody gets robbed, then we all are vigilant. We get the list of stuff that’s missing, all the jewelers are looking for it, in case it turns up. If somebody has an illness in the family, if somebody’s sick, somebody’s car gets stolen, somebody’s house burns down, whatever. Everybody just sort of chips in, you know. Oh, you’re really sick, you’ve got an emergency surgery? Oh, I’ll do it just send your customers to me and you don’t charge anything. You just do it while they’re sick and then they get their customer back. You’re not trying to steal their customer, you just fill in the gaps until they’re ready to do it again. It’s just always been that way. That’s what we’re losing. I don’t think that enough people understand that, because it’s not obvious. You have to be an insider to know it and it’s not the kind of thing you can get back once it’s gone.
The people that want to so called “revitalize the Row” I think they’re throwing away a lot of the best parts [of] this community. I’ve always said it, Sansom Street /Jewelers’ Row is a weird little village in the middle of the city. There’s nothing else like it. It’s completely unique. It’s so bizarre.
An office building has got like six stories and it’s all one company… and it’s this weird little community in that one building. Well, that’s how it is here, but it’s not in a building, we don’t all work for the same company. We’re all independent and yet it’s this weird little village. Just like Northern Exposure or Gilmore Girls or any of these other weird little village things with the local weirdos and the eccentrics and the guy with the heart of gold and the guy that’s always cranky. That’s what it is all the time. 24/7, 365. That’s what it is.
KW: The people that are the “Revitalize the Row” people. Do you find that they haven’t been participating in that community?
JT: Oh, absolutely…as I said in the thing that I wrote…
How do you revitalize something by tearing it down? By making it smaller? How is that going to revitalize anything?
You know, there are ways that we can revitalize the community that they’re not doing. They had a heyday before the days of the internet when everybody would come to Jewelers’ Row. Especially for bridal. Graduations, anniversary gifts – you’d come to Jewelers’ Row, that’s where you’d buy jewelry. There’s so many of us that you’re going to get a good price. You can go to four different jewelers and comparison shop your gift giving. You know, you can really make sure you’re going to get a good deal. Nowadays, they’re competing with the internet, social media, and malls where you can park for free and the whole family can shop and it’s climate controlled and you can all run around and you can go to Chick-Fil-A and go home again. These people aren’t stepping up with the times. They think that they’re going to return because of this high rise with these new people are all of a sudden going to bring in new cash. No. It’s not going to set back the clock. You’re just killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Feed the damn goose better food, it’s going to make more golden eggs for you. But if you start starving the damn goose, which is what’s happening, well guess what. Your business is going to dry up and blow away. And that’s what’s happening. And I understand that they want to go back to when they put their kids through college and they had extravagant lifestyles and they had nice houses and money was easy and flowed like water. Well, you know what? That ship has sailed. Evolve or perish. But killing all of the other geese so that your goose will thrive is not the answer. It’s just not going to work that way. It can’t. It’s not. But they don’t see it. They don’t want to know, they’re short sighted. They’re grasping at straws in my opinion and I think it’s just going to be the death knell of Jewelers’ Row, because once this parcel goes, the Row going to get knocked down like dominoes. And then what? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t revitalize it once it’s gone. I don’t know if that answered your question or not.
KW: It did. It answered a couple of them actually.
AJ: We’ve had people tell us that they think this is a really good time for the Row if you keep moving forward because of our generation and younger are really interested in seeing how [the things they are buying] are made.
JT: Yeah, and I agree with that. And now the way that Jewelers’ Row has evolved to the point we are now (this development notwithstanding), is all the upper floors they used to be jewelers. Now, a lot of these people call themselves jewelers, but they’re salesmen. They don’t make anything. There not jewelers. They don’t make, they’re salesmen. The jewelers were on the upper floors. It’s called Jewelers’ Row, it’s not called Jewelry Row. It’s about the jewelers. Every single room and every single floor had a jeweler. At least one jeweler, sometimes multiple, and everybody specialized. This guy just did finishing, all he did was polish and rhodium, this guy only set diamonds, this guy only set color. This person only strung pearls, this person only did this. Everybody specialized. You’d see in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas this street was alive, all night long. You’d see all the upper floor lights would be on and you’d see people running back and forth across the street wearing the rental aprons, the white aprons with jewelry in their hands. Strings of pearls, diamond rings, diamond necklaces, bracelets you’d see them running back and forth… and nowadays we’ve lost that business. People just go to the mall or they’re shopping online, nowadays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when it used to be 24/7. People are not here on Saturdays ‘cause there’s no point in it. It’s not worth turning the lights on, paying for the heating, the air conditioning, it’s not worth paying your staff. You don’t have the business. So, they’re not there. The upper floors, because of that… have all gone residential, because that’s where the money is. And it’s a lot less hassle and it’s a lot less liability. They don’t have torches. They don’t have chemicals. And so they switched to residential, it made sense for them. So, I understand that. Now when this is going on here, where are these [jewelers] going to go?… There’s very few buildings left for jewelers. There’s only three buildings on this street that have elevators. This one, the one in the middle and the Neff building at the end. That’s it. And that’s definitely a big thing for customers and for getting your shit in and out, oxygen deliveries, stuff like that. The oxygen deliveries can’t park, the UPS guy gets ticketed every single day. I mean come on, this is business. So, there’s ways to revitalize the Row – the Jewelers’ Association is in favor of this so-called development, because they can’t be bothered to pick themselves up by the boot straps. They’re waiting for somebody else to do it for them and hand them some kind of cosmic golden ticket. It’s not going to happen.
KW: Are you a member of the Jewelers’ Row Association?
JT: No. They’re not interested in what I have to say, I’m not interested in what they have to say. I’m not going to pay them dues getting nothing out of it and this is before this deal even came about. They are not interested in the reality of the situation.
KW: What are they doing?
JT: I have no idea. I mean, they’re not doing anything. Another thing- I mean, Where are the print ads: “Come back to Jewelers’ Row.” Establish a relationship with a jeweler. They’ll fix your eyeglasses, people don’t realize, they’ll fix your eyeglasses. I fixed mine, didn’t I do a good job? That’s a hinge issue… They’ll fix your glasses, they’ll replace your watch batteries. Once you have a jeweler you can trust, you’ll get all your Christmas presents, your graduation gifts, anniversary gifts, Christening gifts, and then you tell your friends. That’s how you build a business and they just don’t care. They don’t care about building relationships. One thing that we see over and over again is that people [because of] the way things have changed don’t have that relationship with a jeweler anymore where you can rely on repeat business. Now they just figure, “Well, I don’t know if I’m ever going to see them again, so I’m going to rake them over the coals for this one sale.” Well, how are they ever going to come back if you just raked them over the coals? What about [offering] coupons to the local restaurants so that you can drop off your jewelry, have it cleaned, make sure the diamonds are all tight, the prongs are tipped so you’re not going to lose your stones and give you a coupon for a local restaurant and a coupon for parking so you can go and have your lunch, come back here and your jewelry will be all done… so, now there’s a partnership with local businesses and it works, we all build each other up. But no, everybody’s in it for themselves and that’s what this [the development] is all about. Revitalize Jewelers’ Row? They clearly don’t care about Jewelers’ Row, they’re just in it for themselves. They see potential new customers from all this residential and they see their own property values going up, because of the tax base going up. After this goes through, then clearly they’re going to sell their building… Their kids aren’t interested in going to the business the way it used to be.
It used to be jewelers were family businesses, multi-generations, that’s what Seymour’s business was here, his father’s business.
Him and his sister, Saundra, you know they grew up in the business from [when they were] little kids. They’d be handed tasks to do, busy work. Summer vacation, they’d run errands for nothing… there’d be summer-hire runners and and everyone would know, “oh, it’s a Goretti girl,” in uniforms, in Catholic school uniforms… that was just the way that it was. You know things have changed. I don’t know. I think Jewelers’ Row could have evolved with some nurturing and still be viable and still work with all of these people. But I’m sad to say [it], but I think that ship has sailed. Because of lack of nurturing. It’s dying and I don’t know that it can come back because the people don’t seem to be interested in bringing it back.
KW: Are there more people like you who are the artists, the craftspeople who now just make pieces and then sell on-line exclusively?
JT: I don’t know many who do it exclusively, because you don’t need to be here if you’re selling on-line exclusively. I mean, I don’t have any customers here. I used to and it made sense to be here then. Now it’s habit. My studio’s here and all my friends are here, but I don’t have any customers here. I don’t rely on Jewelers’ Row for my business, I just rely on it for my supplies and camaraderie, really more than anything else. I know a lot of people also sell on-line, but as most of the so called art jewelers, people who are just being creative and doing what they want to do and selling on-line, they don’t need to be here. They’re in the lofts in Fishtown or their working in their basements, or spare room, or garage, things like that. They don’t need to take on an extra rent a lot of times.
AJ: We’ve heard some people say that the heightened security on the row is helpful in terms of safety. Do you agree?
JT: Recently, or just overall?
AJ: Just overall in having more of a police presence.
JT: They’re here, I know they’re here. But if I call 911, I don’t get one of them, I get the guy at the substation [nearby]. Yeah. It just happened a couple of weeks ago, the alarm, the motion detector was going off. So, I called 911 on my way here and I said, “My motion detector is going off and I’d like an escort into the room.” And I got a guy from the substation, not over here [on Jewelers’ Row]. Back in the day we had a patrol over here on the corner all the time. Nowadays, they just control traffic, parking. There’s a couple of theoretical parking spaces at the end of the street and if they know who you are, they’ll let you park there. That’s really all they do unless something happens. And there’s at least three undercover cops. Usually either retired or off duty cops who will come in on their own time and get paid under the table by some of the various jewelers and I know a few of those…
AJ: When the upper stories starting going residential, was that because business had already started to slow down?
JT: Well, it’s because there was an influx of residential into Center City and this historically was a very safe area, because of the police presence. And it was well maintained. We have a huge tax base here, because taxes are based on square footage and income, so we have an amazing tax base because of jewelry. We were making scads of money, back in the day. We always had really good services. The streets were clean, the trash pick-up [was good]. The streets were safe. Your car was safe, you were safe, it’s very convenient to Market East and the train station and the subway stops. Very convenient to the Schuylkill… It made sense. It was a hub. It was a great place to be and again, safety was a huge issue. So, there was an influx of residential and there was a ground swell and it grew, ‘cause people started seeing the money and the jewelers couldn’t compete… This building, before we had any inkling about the Toll Brothers, we thought, “Well, it’s for sale. Somebody’s going to buy it and it’s going to go residential.” We thought we had a couple years, not a couple months…
THE PROPOSED TOLL BROTHERS DEVELOPMENT:
JT: I don’t think I can afford it. Everything I’ve seen… My studio is above us and it’s miniscule and everything I’ve seen is half the size and twice the price.
KW: Where have you looked?
JT: Just around here. There aren’t that many spaces available. Most of them have already gone residential in the upstairs and that was one thing I was going to do with you, especially if it was a daytime thing, was to [take you down the street and point out which places are residential] and show there’s just no space for us. And it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have no clue. If I can’t be creative… I mean it makes sense to continue to be a jeweler, because I have all of the tools and I have all of the skills, and I have gemstones and I have silver and I have gold. It makes sense to keep doing that. But if I can’t do that, for instance if there’s torch restrictions – if I can’t find a place where I can use my torch, then I’ll have to find some other way of being creative without soldering… If I can’t be creative, then I’m just going to get suicidally depressed because it’s my therapy. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself… So, I’m thinking, I don’t really want to see this – when the building gets torn down and the construction and the mayhem and the high rise going up. I don’t need to be here to witness that and I’m not sure that I really want to. I don’t need to be on Jewelers’ Row, I don’t have any customers on Jewelers’ Row. I have suppliers here. Mainly Hagstoz right across the street, but by definition of moving, they’re not going to be across the street anymore. Wherever I am, if I’m in the city I can still get to them. I can’t go in five or ten times a day the way I do now, but they’re not moving, I am. They’ll still be accessible, so I was thinking South Street area because I could walk there from home… I can walk back and forth. As it is, I used to walk this all the time until I broke my leg really badly and it didn’t heal right. So, now I’m taking Uber and Lyft every day. If I’m down there, I can walk to and from work and save that money. I don’t know if there’s any space available and again, we still have the bottled gas restrictions. A lot of people, it doesn’t matter (to them) if I’ve been doing this forty years, it’s still a risk, a liability to them. I understand that. I’m thinking the loft spaces there is apparently a glut of in Kensington, Fishtown, Brewerytown – I’d look there and maybe get a scooter or something like that – but I know I’m just never going to be there.
KW: There aren’t spaces here on the row in other buildings?
JT: Not that I can afford. Like I said everything I’ve seen is half the size and twice the price and my room is already a speck and crowded. I outgrew it years ago, so the idea of scaling down any more, it’s just not going to work.
KW: When was the first time you heard about [the proposed development]?
JT: I want to say about a year ago. The owner of the building and I are friends, I mean we go way back. I’m like the manager of the building for her onsite… she relies on me a lot. We have a great rapport. I knew the building was for sale…Because she’s 80… so sell the building and move on while she’s alive and get the money and move on. I get that. I just thought somebody would buy the building and eventually convert it to residential and that’d be the end of it, but the building would still be standing. Then about a year ago, [I found out] the building is sold and here’s the deal… five buildings, a mega deal, and it’s going to be a 16 story condoplex, and everything’s being torn down. Well, now it’s not even 16 stories, now it’s 29 stories. It’s just sad. It just makes me really sad, ‘cause I don’t think people understand what we’re losing and I would feel this way whether my studio were in this building or not. I have the span of history of what I’ve observed… and I just don’t think people understand. The people who have been here forever and the grew up in the business, they see it and they don’t value it. They just see the dollar signs. And I understand that, it still makes me really sad. It’s like you’re getting rid of your ’65 Mustang and there’s nothing wrong with it and you proposed to your wife in it, but you can get a Kia [to replace it] and the insurance will be less and you don’t have to worry about parking it on the street, because if it gets stolen, who cares? But you’re missing the point-
This is special and unique and wonderful and that is so generic and ordinary. Maybe it’s pragmatic but it’s not very romantic.
KW: I think the last question: Is there anything else you want to say? Talk about?
JT: I think I’ve covered most of it. And I don’t know if this is the venue for this or not. The one thing that’s been bugging me. Were you at the last meeting (Historical Commission) when they deferred for three months? Did you see me actually speak? I tried to talk and they said that I couldn’t – they cut me off. And I was the 2nd or 3rd person to speak about saving these buildings. And meanwhile they had already let Barsky and all these other guys talk about tearing the buildings down or revitalizing the row and all that stuff. And I’m a process kind of girl. I don’t think of what to say at the right time. I think about it afterwards. The thing that I wanted to say that’s been bugging me was: With all due respect, you let all these gentlemen speak at length about tearing the buildings down. And that’s because of the Toll Brothers project. But now I want to talk about saving the buildings and I’m not allowed to talk about the Toll Brothers project? That’s been bugging me that I didn’t have the wherewithal to come out with that at the moment. And I would like to say what I said about “how do you revitalize the row by tearing it down and there’s plenty of ways to revitalize Jewelers’ Row. And they’re grasping at straws and I don’t think it’s going to work. And it’s the death knell of Jewelers’ Row and the things we’ve already covered. That Philadelphia’s the only United States’ World Heritage Site. Jim Kenney says he’s going to focus on preservation and we’re literally a stone’s throw from Independence Hall, the birthplace of liberty and all that crap. And this is truly a beautiful building, and at the time it was fully tenanted. It’s all original. We have all the original old tin ceilings. Hardwood floors…we have the original elevator AND it works! The coal holes in the front from coal deliveries. And there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s special, and one thing that people are not taking into account is the community and that’s really special, it’s like capturing lightning in a bottle. And when that’s gone it’s gone. I find that really sad.
KW: I think all of that should be taken into consideration for its designation because that’s all part of its history.
JT: And as I said, it really bothered me at the time that they let these guys talk about tearing it down and that’s all about Toll Brothers and I’d like to talk about preserving it and I need to address a few points about Toll Brothers. For instance, that Toll brothers is a bad company. They’re predatory and they do shoddy work. There’s countless lawsuits where Toll Brothers tears buildings down and leaves a vacant hole and they walk off or there’s a problem and they walk off. Or they have a plan that’s approved by the community, they tear the buildings down, create a huge hole, put a chain link fence around it and they decide not to do it and they sell the rights to another company that the community has no input on that design that that company’s going to do. The community approved this one and now the buildings are gone. Now what? We can’t turn back the clock. We don’t have a time machine. And I’m afraid Toll Brothers is going to do that.
JT: We were talking about moving over onto Chestnut St. We had this spot that we had our eye on that’s been vacant for ages. And now an article just came out that that’s the next one targeted. That block! I’m not going to do this then two years later go through this again. It’s just too much! Too much upheaval, too much of a heartbreak and it’s just too damn expensive.
AJ: Kevin and I talk about Chestnut all the time. Because it’s definitely an issue, it’s…
JT: A gem!
AJ: Yeah, it’s a gem.
JT: An under-realized, under-utilized…and that’s how they get in under the radar. We have no idea we had to protect our space. We had no idea it wasn’t protected until this shit hit the fan. And then we find out too late that this deal has been in the works for three years.
KW: Chestnut’s right on the precipice and it could either go…saving it and keeping the character or it could go the other way.
JT: This fight that we have may help sway the preservation for the next project. We’re creating awareness. It’s small consolation. It is some but it’s not going to help me. It’s not going to help us. And you know, I love this building. I got into this building when I was 17. I’m 57. I’ve been in this building. I’ve had 3 or 4 different rooms in this building. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know. And I have a shit ton of stuff.