Homes for Families in Moderate Circumstances-
"Philadelphia is popularly known as a 'city of homes,' and a walk through a portion of the north and northwest section of the city will prove that the designation is a true one and fully deserved. Where a few years, and in some instances months ago, were vast commons or worked out clay pits, with no signs of streets or evidences of civilization within squares of them, may now be seen opened streets, curbed, paved, underlaid with gas and water pipes and common sewers, and fringed with row after row of neat, tasty dwellings of a moderate size, finished up, inside and outside, in a style and with conveniences which a few years ago would be considered extravagant, and only within the means of the wealthy. But mechanical ingenuity, the use of machinery, and the architect’s pencil have combined to furnish a man or woman of an income of less than a thousand dollars a year with a home possessing as many comforts, conveniences, and even luxuries, as one who possesses an income of ten times as much.
Between Sixth street and Broad street and north of Columbia avenue may be found hundreds of houses of the character referred to. Mr. H. R. Shoch, a prominent builder, who has already erected upwards of 600 buildings in the upper section of the city within the past few years, is now building – some of which are already finished and ready for occupancy – on the square of ground bounded by Eleventh, Twelfth, Diamond and Montgomery streets, 114 houses. Mervine street divides the block north and south. On Mervine street there are 82 houses, 41 of which are three stories in height, and 10 two stories; on Eleventh street 15, and on Diamond street 16 – all three stories high. The houses on Mervine street present a very unique appearance from the street. The trimmings are white marble, ornamented with buff and black bricks, and on a line of the window heads several rows of bricks are laid diagonally. Each house is divided by pilasters, commencing at second story and continuing to the roof, where they are capped with a wrought-iron ornamental design. The pavement in front is laid with flagstones and the street is paved with rubble stone. The three-story houses have eight rooms, besides a bath room and outer water closet room. The front windows are glazed with French plate glass and supplied with walnut inside shutters. The cellar, which runs under the entire building is laid in cement and effectually drained. A capacious heater in the cellar supplies every room in the house with heat. The vestibule floor is laid in marble. The paper on the walls is of the latest style and of the best quality. An open stairway from the entry and a back stairway from the dining room leads to the second floor. Here are two bed chambers, a bath-room and water-closet and a light, cheerful sitting room, with projecting bay windows. The front bed-room is supplied with twin walnut wardrobes, between which, in an alcove, is a stationary marble wash stand, supplied with hot and cold water. The waste water-pipe arrangements are considered the most perfect that can be invented, the rain water from the roof passes into the waste pipe leading into the sewer, and all sewer gas that could possibly accumulate is carried by a ventilator through the roof. All the water-pipes are within the building, thus avoiding the danger of freezing in the winter. Not a drop of waste water passes over the surface, but is carried directly into the sewer.
The two-story houses are finished in precisely the same manner as those above described, the only difference being in the number of rooms, having two less. The houses in Eleventh street contain eleven rooms, and are more elaborately finished. The fronts are somewhat in the Elizabethan style. They have single windows are the first story front and double windows on the second and third floors. The window frames are set back in the wall, and the window and door heads project out, giving the appearance of massiveness. The window frames are arched but squared with the carved brown stone. The trimmings are brown stone throughout. They are all finished with the same conveniences as those on Mervine street. The houses on Diamond street present a somewhat different front, but are in general similar to those on Eleventh street. The building of the houses on Twelfth street has not yet commenced, but it is designed to have them present a style of front the same as the Eleventh street houses.”
Westcott's Scrapbooks, volume 3, page 189
Pennsylvania Historical Society