The look and feel of certain parts of Philadelphia are going through major changes, and for many people, those changes call to mind memories as well as new opportunities. To provide some perspective on the complex emotions evoked by the city’s redevelopment plans, a group of organizers from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art planned an unusual project: “Funeral for a Home.”

The project focused on Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood and its century-long resilience and history. Of course, Mantua has many vacant lots and disused properties, but the neighborhood once thrived. The “Funeral for a Home” project included eulogies and hymns, followed by a festive procession and a community meal — all to honor Mantua’s rich past.

Organizers referred to the symbolic gesture as a “home-going” service. A single, boarded-up row house was chosen at random, and as the building was demolished, debris from the former residence was carried down the block in a dumpster fashioned like a hearse. Artists who worked on the project draped the structure in floral wreaths before it was torn down.

It wasn’t clear exactly when the home was built, but neighbors shared warm memories of past occupants and of spending time in the home. At least since the early 1900s, the residence had been occupied, though in the last few months the building was vacant.

Organizers of the “funeral” hoped to bring some catharsis to the community.

According to city officials, about 25,000 houses in Philadelphia are vacant, and about 600 are demolished each year. Legal disputes are bound to arise in these situations. Whether you’re buying, selling or leasing a residential property, it is important to conduct due diligence and protect your legal and financial interests.

Source: The Washington Post, “Funeral to be held for decrepit Philadelphia home,” Kathleen Matheson, May 26, 2014

Source: Penn Live, “Rundown Philly row home honored with funeral as neighborhood hopes for rebirth,” May 31, 2014