5th and Gaskill St.
1860 Hexamer and Locher Map
|Watercolor by Taylor, 1861|
|According to a chain of title compiled by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, this property has frequently changed hands, mortgages, and uses over time. The earliest recorded date is 1802, when the lot held a one-story carpenterĺ─˘s shop. On March 30th, 1802, Isaac Israel, attorney, granted the property to Edward Hanna, Robert Jackson and Robert Gordon for $800 under agreement that the property would be dedicated for uses of the Fourth Presbyterian Congregation. Trustees of the Fourth Presbyterian Congregation owned the property beginning on April 10th, 1805, when it was sold to the Congregation for $905 from grantor Samuel Johnston. The property changed ownership again on June 23rd, 1841, when trustee Thomas Mercer of the Fourth Presbyterian Congregation sold it for $1 to The Fourth Presbyterian Congregation itself. Interestingly enough, on the very same day the property changed hands once more, this time to the First Church of Disciples of Christ for $5,000. The First Church of Disciples of Christ held on to the property until 1850, when it was deeded over to Richard Wilson, who is listed as a laborer, for $7,050.
As the caption on Taylorĺ─˘s watercolor shows, the church was at one time an ĺ─˙Africanĺ─¨ church. According to the same deed list from the Historical Commision, in 1853., the lot was passed on to the First Colored Methodist Protestant Israel Church for only $5.00. Nine years later, in 1862, the property is listed as being sold by the Fourth Presbyterian Congregation for $3,525 to two gentlemen named Bernard H. Hulseman, a leather dealer, and Frederick Horstmann, a skindresser. No records were found that indicated how they used the building. The maps and the deed records of this transaction indicate that the building was a large brick rough cast church edifice. In 1864 the buildingĺ─˘s ownership transferred again, this time to the German Roman Catholic Literary Institute for $5,485. It was renamed Wheatley Dramatic Hall in 1866, when William Wheatley leased the hall. A newspaper clipping from 1904 found in the Castner Scrapbook Collection at the Free Library has a brief story on the history of the Wheatley Dramatic Society and its members. William Wheatley was a fairly well-known actor in the local area and he operated a theater at 12th and Chestnut, as stated within the list of grantors/grantees of the building.
In 1888 the Hungarian Congregation Chewra Emunas Israel purchased the building for $22,000. A few years later, in 1891 the congregation hired local architect Samuel Miligan to convert it into a synagogue, as recorded in the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builderĺ─˘s Guide on the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings website; these changes possibly are seen in the 1959 photograph. The Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia spent a brief period after 1891 in this building, according to their website; it is not known when they left. The Hungarian Congregation held the building and it remained a synagogue until at least 1967, when it was purchased by Bernard Uhr, Martin Uhr, and Herman Meyer. It was after this sale that the synagogue was probably demolished, though no concrete date for demolition has been found as of yet. Today the building no longer exists; row houses now stand in its place.
|Northeast Corner of 5th and Gaskill Streets, October, 2005|