This apartment building still stands at the site that
The mid-1800s was a period of city-wide expansion. ¨›The consolidation of the
city in 1853, the construction of City Hall in the 1870s and 1880's, the preparation for AmericaíńŰs centennial were all contributing factors to the growth of the Western half of center city Philadelphia. ¨›The millionaire-developer E. Burgess Warren bought and constructed many of the three-storied mansard-roofed brick and stone Second Empire-style structures in the blocks surrounding 2101 Walnut. ¨›The evidence of this neighborhood transformation can be seen in the Jones Fire Insurance atlas from 1874 and the Hexamer Fire Insurance map from 1887. The livery stable is the only thing that remains intact on the map from 1858. As the area became more and more fashionable, residents flocked to these new mansions. ¨›Owners frequently graced the
pages of Philadelphia Blue Books and Social Registers. These books
and other high society collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania provide the most information about the interior and use of the house as well as about the lives and personalities of its residents. ¨›
The most notable residents of 2101 Walnut were publisher Walter Lippincott and his wife Elizabeth. ¨›Both from powerful and rich families, the Lippincotts ensured that 2101 Walnut Street was the site of numerous fancy parties, kept in good condition, and was a cornerstone in the social scene west of Broad Street in Philadelphia. ¨›The Lippincott Collection at the Pennsylvania Historical Society contains a number of records of family activities including financial records, albums, letters and journals. ¨›Among the items in the collection that specifically addressed 2101 Walnut was Elizabeth LippincottíńŰs journal of the household accounts with entries from 1894 until 1913. ¨›Interesting observations were that the family had between three and four servants at any given time, that they had an automobile as early as 1905 and made repairs and alterations to the house frequently. ¨›Even more insightful to the interior design of the house was a complete audit of the belongings of the house in 1906. ¨›Below is an excerpt from the audit that is a partial list of the contents of the Dining Room. ¨›The list of the rooms of the house as well as a close-up of the audit excerpt are provided in the various documents page associated with this site.
We were unable to find out exactly when the individual
The chain of title, which can be viewed on the deed research page, shows that the earliest owners of the block that could be traced were Henry and Elizabeth Ashurst in 1869. The Taylor watercolor from 1861 shows the building as a wood-framed 2-¨á story structure in the advanced stages of deterioration. There is no evidence that the Ashursts lived in the house. In fact, through city directories accessed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, we found that the Ashursts and the Gibsons (the family that bought the land from the Ashursts) listed their primary residences outside of the block. It is unknown who actually resided in the house, but the 1858 Hexamer & Locher map (Vol 3, p. 40) seen above shows 2101 Walnut as a two-story framed residence.
Maps were an important resource in our research. Insurance maps publicly available at the Free Library of Philadelphia gave information about building types, use and locations. We have highlighted the building depicted by Taylor in the map above. Note the sparse construction on the block, the livery stable in the middle of the block and the number of floors of the different buildings. For a closer look at the map and the others associated wiith 2101 Walnut, please view our 2101 insurance map page.
It is uncertain when the original structure from the watercolor was demolished, but the area was rebuilt as a respectable residential neighborhood in 1870.