Wyncote Board maps the future of baseball legend Reggie Jackson’s former home

The Wyncote Board of Historical & Architectural Review of Cheltenham Township met Thursday evening to review an application by a private owner in the Wyncote Historic District to demolish the childhood home of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, known during his playing career as “Mr. October.”

The Greenwood Avenue building, which doubled as the Jackson family’s tailor/dry cleaning business, has seen its share of neglect over the years. The owner intends to replace the structure with a parking lot for the remaining commercial portions of his property.

Current plans to preserve the building’s historicity include a commemorative plaque on the site and a portion of one wall relocated to a nearby building. The site is bordered by a private residence and an office building. The lot owners suggested that an additional parking lot would reduce parking on residential streets.

Board members deliberated with the lot owners on the meaning of historical preservation, and alternative ways to memorialize the property.

“If the building were removed, it creates this void. How do we avoid that?” board member Michael Shapiro said. “My feeling is that it can’t be just an asphalt parking lot. Maybe there are trees or something along those lines. What we have so far is a parking with stripes, which is unfriendly to the neighborhood.”

Clive Copping, preservation architect, said, “One of the things we have to do as a historical review board is protect the historic resources. When someone asks us to demolish something, we have to be really sure through documentation that we’re not removing a piece of history that still has some life left in it. We’re also concerned that in terms of the planning and the site and the district, this site has now been proposed to remove part of the building which is part of the historic streetscape. The connectivity would be fractured, which concerns us. We don’t want a hole in the site or a loss of historic fabric.”

Copping suggested that the owners probe the area and come back to the board with palatable ideas. Decorative improvements were laid on the table of possibilities as well.

Shapiro suggested a structure that blocks the view of a parking lot and connects the existing buildings.

“It’s not about putting a placard or something like that,” Shapiro said. “It’s about defining what this existing resource is. That’s the process. That’s what we need to understand. That’s what preservation is about. We need to make sure that we have solid recordation. A placard is a nice thing to do but it’s not part of the process.”

“It’s not our place to tell you what to do, but I think you have an opportunity to look at the site, the context, and find a way to define the end of the site or the beginning of the parking lot with an interface that somehow connects to the architecture of the site,” Chopping said. “I think that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

“We need plans, we need recordation, we need to know what you’re thinking about doing,” Chopping said.

FLUSHING, NY – OCTOBER 1973: Reggie Jackson #9 of the Oakland Athletics swats the ball during the World Series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium on October 1973 in Flushing, New York. (Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty Images)