Cope & Stewardson

Residential work in Philadelphia (1885-1902): Center City, West Philadelphia, and Chestnut Hill

This website features residential architecture designed at the turn of the 2oth century (1885 – 1902) by the notable Philadelphian architecture firm Cope & Stewardson.  Research focused on residences in the Center City, West Philadelphia, and Chestnut Hill areas that were designed prior to the death of Walter Cope in 1902, and is intended to supplement project information currently available on Philadelphia Architects and Buildings (PAB) website, www.philadelphiabuildings.org.

The firm of Cope & Stewardson was founded by Walter Cope (1860-1902) & John Stewardson (1858-1896) in 1885. In 1887, Emlyn Stewardson (brother of John), joined the firm.

Cope and Stewardson are primarily known for their university buildings, done in the Collegiate Gothic style, a combination of gothic architecture found at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the local landscape.  Their major works are found on the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania , Bryn Mawr College , Princeton Universit y, and Washington University in St. Louis , MO.

Residential work of Cope & Stewardson has been less well documented even though they had numerous commissions throughout the Philadelphia area, and in New Jersey and Missouri.  Clients included prominent Philadelphians who worked in Center City and owned summer homes in the rural and picturesque Chestnut Hill area. Cope & Stewardson often worked with these clients on both their urban and rural residences, although work on town homes appears to have mostly been limited to interior alterations. The firm used a variety of styles, reflecting the varying tastes of their clients.  In a few buildings, the use of Flemish bond, a pattern made from alternating headers and stretchers on each course, displayed a distinct and unique style practiced by Cope & Stewardson on residential architecture during this period.

View projects by client or geographically:

Center City
West Philadelphia
Chestnut Hill

Research Methodology

Our initial search for residential architecture by Cope & Stewardson began at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.  This included reviewing the Chestnut Hill Historic District Files, Stewardson & Page Commission Cards, and the AIA/T-Square Yearbooks available in their library. 

At the Philadelphia Historical Commission, a copy of the “Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects: 1700-1930” was obtained. Published in 1985 by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, this dictionary was essentially a precursor to the PAB website and contained much of the same information.  The Historical Commission files, however, included additional information such as survey forms (used for the nomination of the Rittenhouse-Fitler Residential Historic District) and black and white photographs taken at the time of the survey (c. 1995), dated fire insurance surveys, historic photographs, building permits, and correspondences.  These proved to be very useful in providing information to supplement the PAB.

After extensive research on Cope & Stewardson at the University of Pennsylvania Fisher Fine Arts Library , a thesis titled, Cope and Stewardson: the Architects of a Philadelphia Renascence [sic] was found.  Written in 1960 by William Emlyn Stewardson, grandson of John Stewardson, this thesis reveals a number of projects unnamed by the PAB, and provides commission numbers and client names, as well as a few references, dates and addresses. With its discovery, in-depth research on these newly identified properties began.  A search was made for available fire insurance documents at the Historic Society of Pennsylvania.  The documents found included records from the Franklin Fire Insurance Company, Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Company, and the Mutual Assurance Company.  Like the previous fire insurance papers found at the Historical Commission, these often included a building footprint of each property.

Finally, for properties with missing information such as the client’s name or the specific addresses, a search through Gopsill’s Philadelphia Directories available at the Philadelphia City Archives was completed.  Where addresses were not found, a review of the G.W. Bromley and Co. atlases, which show property owners' names overlaying lot divisions, revealed yet more new information.

Sources Cited

   

Prepared by: Christy Lombardo / Kelly H. Wong

University of Pennsylvania

Department of Historic Preservation

HSPV 600: Documentation & Archival Research

Professor Jeff Cohen