Back in January I did some comparison shopping among the major downtown Harrisburg apartment complexes. I wound up signing a lease for a medium-sized (about 800 square feet) one-Bedroom in Executive House and moved in February first. It didn’t take long for me to realize I made the right choice.
Just over five years ago I did The Adult Thing ™ and moved from downtown Harrisburg into a house in semi-rural suburbia. This place was never a particularly nice home, nor was it really my style. But it was cheap, had decent square footage, and endless potential for upgrades. I paid down the house on an extremely accelerated schedule and made my final payment this past summer. And just when I finally got around to re-doing the landscaping and making those renovations, when I was beginning to consider living with the shortcomings of my home (location and style being the two biggest) in exchange for cheap living, I had the sudden revelation that I didn’t have to live here if I didn’t want to.
So I sold it.
This is it. A solid week of apartment hunting in midtown / downtown Harrisburg wraps up as of right now. My last stop on the tour is Old City Hall, located across Walnut Street from the Capitol building. The building was built in 1910 as a technical school, and remodeled for use as Harrisburg’s City Hall in the late 1920s. In the late 1970s, during Harrisburg’s earliest attempts to revitalize downtown, the building was renovated into the apartments as you see them today.
Old City Hall is unique in that it is one of only two Harrisburg apartment buildings to be dominated by split-level loft apartments (the other being Simon Cameron School on Green). Schoolhouse Apartments in Mechanicsburg has the same overall feel, but only has a handful of split-level units. This is currently a niche market that Harrisburg desperately needs more of. I’ll take a hardwood floor, exposed brickwork and structure, and an otherwise well-hidden exterior over any of the apartments I’ve looked at so far. The Grayco may be the current frontrunner in class and character, but nothing screams living history like a 30′ ceiling 12-foot windows.
My downtown/midtown apartment hunting continued today with a visit to Executive House. Executive House is a 14-story high-rise located at the corner of Chestnut and Second streets, directly across from Harrisburg Hospital and Crowne Plaza. More likely than not, you drive past it every time you head downtown via 83.
Executive House is a 14-story hi-rise located at the corner of Second & Chestnut in downtown Harrisburg. It was built in 1966 by Berger & Company out of Philadelphia. Initially, the first nine floors were office space and floors 10 through 14 were residential apartments. When the Rachael Carlson building opened, Executive House was heavily renovated. The first three floors remain in use as commercial space, but floors four through 14 are residential studio & one-bedroom apartments. Up until 2000, the building was decked out in 1960s institutional-white brick cladding. In 2000 the building received an exterior “facelift”, during which they mercifully painted over that.
Executive House is a well-hidden gem of downtown living. Honestly, from the outside, it’s not much to look at. I blame the brushed-aluminum railings on the balconies (brushed aluminum doesn’t age well). You’ve probably driven past it thousands of times and never noticed, or tuned it out as just another anonymous downtown hi-rise. The lobby and hallways — with their dark carpeting, dark-stained birch trim, and brass fixtures — make it clear that the common areas were last renovated in 1980-something. They aren’t exactly ugly, just somewhat dated. I suspect this makes a lot of people ignore the building, which makes it all that more of a secret.
Wow – January is just FLYING by. I’ve sold my house, sampled three Harrisburg apartment buildings, made six trips to Goodwill, and given away most of my furniture for free on Craigslist. My home is about half-packed, but I still have a damaged Ikea computer desk to dismantle. Today most of my 80s home computer collection went into proper storage. And right this second, I’m taking a break.
I spent the day dismantling the proceeds from my home sale. Those of you who saw my home know that it was never anything special, so it should be no surprise that we’re not exactly talking about a seven-figure sale here. Today I dumped most of the proceeds from the sale into paying off old debt. I have a tiny sliver of student loans left over from my degree, and a whole lot of my flight training loan left over. I would love to put a little into the stock market, but even earning a 15% return isn’t that great when I’ve got student loans at 6.9%.