The “Bathey House,” in the heart of East Falls business district, was built in the 1930’s and originally served as a changing facility for the community swimming pool. When new pools were opened at Gustine Lake in 1958, “the Bathey” was abandoned and left to slowly deteriorate. After EFDC successfully completed construction of a 50 space public parking lot under the twin bridges, work began on planning and fundraising to fulfill the community’s long-term interest in rehabilitating “the Bathey” as a community gathering place.
With the support of elected officials and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, EFDC found a development partner, Brinton Housing, to renovate and operate the Bathey as a cafe. EFDC obtained funding from the William Penn Foundation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to rehabilitate the building, and the Bathey reopened as the Trolley Car Cafe in 2010. As a result of the Cafe’s growing popularity in the neighborhood as well as among recreationists frequenting the Schuylkill River Trail system, the Cafe was expanded in 2016.
Together with the Twin Bridges Parking Lot, the Trolley Car Cafe has become a trailhead along Philadelphia’s 8 1/2 mile recreational loop and has put East Falls on the State’s Schuylkill River Heritage Area Map.