Project research and web design by Christina Burris, Charu Chaudhry, and Amila Ferron.

For Jeff Cohen, HSPV 600, Program in Historic Preservation, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania.

For educational purposes only.

Three hotels, one fate. All three of these hotels served Philadelphia in the same neighborhood, during the same period, and all were demolished in the late 1860's in the name of progress. Two hotels were acquired by the Fairmount Park Commission. One was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. All of these structures were captured at the end of their lives by the Taylor sketches.

The Taylor series includes 57 pencil and wash sketches, depicting buildings in the Philadelphia area in 1861. We have been given three of these hotels and this site was put together with the purpose to study the life cycle of these hotels during the evolution of "Fairmount Park" and vicinity. This is for educational purposes only and all the credits have been appropriately imparted.

The area where the hotels stood and their locations can be seen in the images below. The Fairmount area is to the northwest of current-day Center City Philadelphia in neighborhoods known as "Mantua" and "Art Museum."

1838 rendition of the Fairmount Locks area. Arrows point to the locations where the hotels once stood. (Shown courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia. A portion of the Plan of the city of Philadelphia and adjoining districts, originally drawn by W. Allen, and revised by E.J. Roberts in 1838. The arrows and labels have been added.)

2005 satelite image of the Fairmount Locks area. Arrows point to the approximate area where the hotels were. (Image from Google Earth. Arrows and labels added.)

History of Fairmount Park
(Compiled from http://www.phila.gov/fairpark/history/ and Klein, Esther M., Fairmount Park: A History and a Guidebook, Harcum Junior College Press, 1974. pp. 17-21)

In 1770, the American patriot Robert Morris began to acquire land in the rural Northern Liberties. He transformed his property into a farm and garden that he called The Hills. However, Morris became bankrupt and in 1799 Henry Pratt bought roughly 43 acres of The Hills at a sheriff's sale. Pratt's primary residence was in Philadelphia, but like many of his peers, he apparently wished to establish a country retreat on the banks of the Schuylkill River. Within months he erected the house, now known as Lemon Hill, overlooking the river. Pratt also enlarged and embellished¨›MorrisíńŰs gardens, arousing so much public interest¨›that he began issuing admission tickets to would-be¨›sightseers. Eager to further capitalize on the river¨›front lot, he sold it at great profit to a New York¨›merchant who intended to construct coal-shipping wharves along the shoreline. However, a sudden downturn¨›in the economy sent real estate values plummeting¨›and the wharves were never built.

William Penn pioneered in dubbing the enchanted parkland, íńķFaire Mountíńý, which eventually led to the largest landscaped municipal park in the world in 1810. The reservoir and the entire waterworks were completed in three years (1812-15). However, the high costs of operation of the steam pumps led to a new method which required approval of the aristocratic residents on the river banks. Water flowed over the dam for the first time on July 25, 1821.

However, the Fairmount Dam induced a swampland during the¨›1840s and 1850s, the City rented Lemon Hill to various¨›tenants including a concessionaire who operated a¨›beer garden. The grounds, however, continued to deteriorate,¨›and Morris's greenhouse became a charred ruin. Lemon Hill deteriorated¨›and the Bank of the United States acquired it at an 1840 sheriff's sale.

Philadelphians were however¨›interested in more than just pure water. There was¨›a growing taste for public park grounds. The Pennsylvania¨›Horticultural Society had made a plea during the negotiation¨›for Lemon Hill that it be established as a public¨›garden. Although the suggestion was ignored, in 1851,¨›John Price Wetherill revived the idea of a garden¨›and Frederick Graff presented a plan for the improvement¨›of the grounds and the acquisition of the adjoining¨›Sedgeley Estate so as to connect Fairmount Water Works¨›and Spring Garden Water Works. Meanwhile a proposal¨›for a public cemetery gained attention. Eventually¨› however, a petition from the city's property holders¨› to the Council for the enlargement and dedication¨› of Lemon Hill as a pleasure ground succeeded and the¨› City Councils on September 28th, 1855 officially dedicated¨› the property to public use as a park," to be¨› known by the name of Fairmount Park."

The title reads, íńķMap of Farms and Lots Embraced within the limits of Fairmount Park as appropriated for public use by act of assembly.¨› Approved the 14th day of April A.D. 1868.íńý (From http://www.phillyh2o.org/)

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