Category Archives: Neighborhoods

Martin Meyerson’s Presidential Residence at 2016 Spruce Street

In 1970, University of Pennsylvania’s new president Martin Meyerson hired arguably the most famous architect in America at the time, Penn’s own Louis Kahn, to renovate a double-wide brownstone mansion at 2016 Spruce Street into a new presidential residence.  Meyerson was a unusual university president, in that his background was not in academia, but in […]
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Joseph Moore Jr., “A Remnant of the Mauve Decade”

There are few interior shots available on PhillyHistory.org. The insides of the grand mansions of Rittenhouse Square and their modest West Philadelphia rowhouses have been largely lost history, their contents dispersed to family members, sold at auction during the Great Depression, or buried in landfills. Among the few surviving images of these every day stagesets are […]
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Willis Hale and the Proposed Chester-Regent Historic District

Restraint is not a word associated with the Philadelphia architect Willis Gaylord Hale (1848-1907).  His most famous Philadelphia commission, the recently-rehabbed Divine Lorraine Hotel of 1894, is a yellow-brick wedding cake skyscraper. His other residential and commercial structures that have survived the wrecking ball, such as the Union Trust in Center City, are fanciful and […]
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A Cursed Mansion in Belmont: The Rise and Fall of the Rorkes (Part 1)

In the 1890s, the self-made construction magnate Allen B. Rorke appeared to be living the Gilded Age dream.  Fame, fortune, social standing, and grand houses were all his.  He belonged to the Union League, the Masonic Order of the Odd Fellows, the Legion of Honor, and the Clover Club.  Among his construction clients were the […]
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The Autocrat and the Engineer (Part I)

In view of the interest and importance at the present time of everything which relates to the development of railroading, it is well to remember what has been done in America to lay the foundations of the locomotive industry, and, therefore, we feel that it is desirable to recall the extent to which the design of the modern locomotive is […]
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Creating Community at the Powelton Co-op – Part 2

Part I of “Creating Community at the Powelton C0-op” A few years ago, Gwendolyn Bye, daughter of Friendship Co-op founders Jerry and Lois Bye, was thumbing through some old photos from her 1950s West Philadelphia childhood. When she came across a class picture from the Charles Drew Elementary School, which once stood on the 3700 […]
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Creating Community at the Powelton Co-op – Part 1

There were some kids who were mixed. There was some kids who were Jewish, and there were some white kids, too. But it never dawned on me as a child. I never knew the difference. I went to an all-black school for the first three years of my life, which was a block away. -Gwendolyn […]
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Coleman Sellers, Powelton Village, and The Gilded Age” (Part I)

While ‘The Gilded Age’ commercial obstacle course touches on many themes as it shifts uncomfortably between melodrama and satire, occasionally verging into burlesque, it always projects a powerful message about the futility and self-destructiveness of chasing after riches. -R. Kent Rasmussen Now divided into apartments, 3301 Baring Street is an imposing Italianate style mansion completed […]
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West Philadelphia’s Satterlee Hospital (Part I)

Excerpt kids bounce house from “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman Bearing the bandages, water and sponge, Straight and swift to my wounded I go, Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in, Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground, Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the […]
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Campo’s Delicatessen and Our Lady of Loreto (Part II)

To read Part I, click here.  In the 1930s, Ferdinando’s son young Ambrose went to kids bounce house work at his uncle’s butcher’s shop in South Philadelphia, which he would eventually take over. Because few families owned cars during the lean years of the Great Depression, most Philadelphians still shopped for food in their neighborhoods, […]
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