<1861
Evidence of businesses, yet still mixed with residences, on the north side of the 700 Block of Market Street before 1861
1861
Lippincott Building replaces White Hall Hotel at 715-717 Market Street.
1871
J. B. Lippincott expands building to Filbert Street
1893
Lit Brothers begins their expansion
1899
Devastating fire destroys Lippincott Building
1918
Entire 700 block of Market Street engulfed by Lit Brothers
1977
Bankruptcy causes Lit Brothers to close their doors
1988
Lits Brothers designated National Historic Landmark
2005
Site now operates as Mellon Independence Center mall
Market Street East from 8th to 6th Streets showing the market sheds and streetcar tracks, 1859. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Even in 1859 the 700 Block of Market Street was functioning as a commercial district. The image to the left shows market sheds in the middle of Market Street where merchants gathered to sell their goods. Streetcars ran on either side of the sheds to transport the people and the goods throughout the city. The streetcar tracks ran to and from the Delaware River docks where the goods were either delivered or shipped. The tracks followed Dock Street, which connected into Market Street, the central spine of the market district. See map for this early commercial route.

Before 1800

According to Philadelphia city directories, the following Philadelphians lived and/or worked on the north side of the 700 block of Market Street at the end of the 18th century. Effective in 1857, the City of Philadelphia devised a system to renumber the streets according to a system of the 00 block. The addresses below indicate the street numbers on the north side of the 700 block of Market Street prior to this change.

Professions are highlighted to demostrate the presence of the commercial function of the block.

1795

Carson, Elizabeth and sisters, gentlewomen 271 Market Street
Davis, Willis and John Daniel, grocers 277 Market Street
Dunlap, John, printer 281 Market Street
Dunwoody, John, innkeeper, Spread Eagle 285 Market Street
Foulke, Caleb, merchant 293 Market Street
Herbst, Henry and Peter Lex, grocers 283 Market Street
Kean, Mary, widow, boarding house, and David Rees, merchant 291 Market Street
Ker, James, coachmaker (his shop) and Elliston Perot, merchant 299 Market Street
North, Richard, stonecutter 289 Market Street
Perot, John, merchant 279 Market Street
Shaw, Samuel, merchant 275 Market Street
Shoemaker, Samuel, gentleman 301 Market Street
Stover, Daniel and Jeffe Evans, grocers 273 Market Street
Trafel, Jacob and Nathan Matlack, Jr., grocers 287 Market Street
1791

Foulke, Caleb, merchant 293 Market Street
Herbst & Lex, grocers 283 Market Street
Inglis, Henry & Joseph, joiners 273 Market Street
Kerr, James, coach maker 297 Market Street
McCullough, Rachel, widow 271 Market Street
Meyer, Barnet, tallow chandler 277 Market Street
Nancarrow, John, steel manufacturer 291 Market Street
North, Richard, stonecutter 285 Market Street
Shaw, Samuel, merchant 275 Market Street
Shoemaker, Samuel, gentleman 301 Market Street
1785

Allen, Chamless 281 Market Street
Collins, Ruth 301 Market Street
Foulke, Caleb 271 Market Street
Foulke, Caleb, merchant 289 Market Street
Goucher, Thomas 279 Market Streetݬ
Haynes , Reuben & Casper, brewers 291 Market Street
Jones, J. & Foulke D., merchants 287 Market Street
Knorr, John 277 Market Street
Kuhn & Risberg, merchants 273 Market Street
Lee, Francis 283 Market Street
Sickle, Lawrence 285Market Street
Stanley, William, Jr 275 Market Street
Whelan, Israel 297 Market Street
Wister, Daniel, merchant 293 Market Street
Zantzinger, Adam, merchant 299 Market Street

Home Sources:

Jackson, Joseph. Americas Most Historic Highway: Market Street, Philadelphia. John Wanamaker,1926.
Courtesy Penn State University Library.

Sources of directory information:

1795, The Prospect of Philadelphia by Edmund Hogan, from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

1791 Biddle's Philadelphia Directory, compiled by
Matt Ainslie, U. of Delaware

1785, combination of directories published by Francis White and John MacPherson, compiled by Matt Ainslie, U. of Delaware.

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James E Taylor (1839-1901) captured images of Philadelphia through his watercolors, which are in the "Views of Philadelphia" sketchbook located in a manuscript collection at the Winterthur Library. He depicted not only the buildings, but also the people associated with them.
Taylor rendered The White Hall Hotel at 715 Market Street before its demolition in 1861. Joshua B Lippincott came to be the new owner of the property that same year. In his book Building Lives Neil Harris remarks on buildings before their demolition: "The building could not be photographed after death, because by definition it woud be no more. The equivalent, then, was careful portraiture of the final days." The Mutual Fire Insurance Survey from 1863 described the new building as a fire-story brick store. See the plan of the Lippincott Building showing its extension to Filbert Street.
Baxter Panoramic, 1879 of Market Street, North Side from Seventh to Eighth. (Enlargement of 715-717 Market Street shown to the left).Courtesy of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Click on image to enlarge.

Fire insurance survey from 1863. Courtesy of Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
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version of this page.

Sources:

Harris, Neil. Building Lives. New Haven: Yale University, 1999: 136.


J.B. Lippincott began to expand his building by buying 714-722 Filbert Street in the year 1871. This brick six-story extension was completed in 1872, and housed the area for printing and binding. In 1876, the entire Lippincott Company building covered a total area (including all floors) of five acres and consisted of offices and book manufacturing. At this time in its history, it was the largest establishment of its kind in the United States.

As the Lippincott building expanded over the 700 Market Street block, another building on the block housed a womens department store owned by the Lit Brothers, who wanted to expand as well. J.B. Lippincott died in 1893 at which time his building was divided and sold to other retail stores. In 1897, the retail book departments were sold to Strawbridge & Clothier and the stationary, fancy goods and Market Street store were sold to the Lit Brothers. The Lit Brothers had previously owned 737 Market Street building and with the purchase of Lippincotts Market Street store, they commenced on their own expansion.

J.B. Lippincott Publishing (on the right) on Market Street showing expansion of existing building to east and west, estimated date late 18th C. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

View of Filbert Street rear extension of the Lippincott building, 1985. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
View of Filbert Street rear facade of the Lippincott building, 1985. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.






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Source:

Lippincott, J.B. Toward a Third Century of Excellence: An Informal History of the JB Lippincott Company on the Occasion of Its 200th Anniversary. Philadelphia: Lippincott Co, 1992.


View of Market Street from corner of Eighth Street, estimated date from late 19th C. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

In 1893, a period of rapid and tremendous change began on the 700 block of Market Street. During this year, Lit Brothers moved from a small shop on 45 North Eight Street to the northeast corner of Eight and Market Streets. The business originally began as a dress shop run by Rachael Wedell. Two years later, her brothers, Samuel and Jacob Lit, joined her and the business began to grow. The store now sold a wide variety of goods, ranging from clothing such as tailor made coats, hats, and fur garments, to items for the home including linens, sheets, blankets, curtains, and rugs. Though the company name did not credit her, Rachael remained an important part of the business and continued to trim hats for clients who purchased materials in the store.

In 1893, Lit Brothers began the expansion of their dry goods business, which continued to grow each year until it became a full-fledged department store by the turn of the century. Over the next few decades, the following buildings were eventually taken over by Lits:
View of Lit Brothers from 8th and Market Streets, 1898. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

701-707 Market Street, built 1907

709 Market Street, built c. 1870

711 Market Street, built for J. M. Maris and Co. in 1859

713 Market Street, built 1872

715-717 Market Street, acquired by J. B. Lippincott and Co. in 1861

719-721 Market Street, built for Joel J. Bailey and Co. in 1873

723-725 Market Street, built c. 1865

727-735 Market Street and 7-13 North Eighth Street, built 1895-96

737-739 Market Street, built 1893

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Sources:

http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/pa/pa0900/pa0971/data/004.tif

Additional information obtained from file on Lit Brothers building in Philadelphia Historical Commission.


On November 29, 1899, a five alarm fire broke out in the early morning hours at Partridge & Richardsons store at the corner of 8th and Filbert Streets. The fire quickly spread, causing the complete destruction of the back of the Lippincott Building at 712-722 Filbert Street. Many other structures in the vicinity were significantly damaged, including Lit Brothers, Strawbridge & Clothiers, Artman, Treiehler & Co, Baileys 5 and 10 cent store, Rosenbergs millinery store, Mosebachs restaurant, and Eastburns corset store. The fire, smoke, and water caused at least $1,400,000 in damage and resulted in loss of employment for 2,000 workers. In addition to structural damage, Lippincotts lost many valuable electrotype plates.
Sketch of 1899 fire from Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper Nov. 30, 1899. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Plan of 700 block of Market St. showing section affected by fire from newspaper Nov. 30, 1899. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
View of Market Street after the fire, 1910-1911. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

After the devastating fire destroyed their building, the Lippincotts decided to move their business to Washington Square, which had become the publishing center of Philadelphia. By 1900, Lit Brothers purchased the entire block of Market Street, and by 1907, their business reached from Market to Filbert Streets.


Click here for a printable version of this page. Sources:

"Fire in City's Centre Causes a Loss of a Million and a Half." The Public Ledger. 30 Nov. 1899: 1.

"Nearly $2,000,000 Worth of Property Eaten Up in a Furious Outburst of Fire." Philadelphia Inquirer 30 Nov. 1899: 1.
Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia.

Jackson, Joseph. Americas Most Historic Highway: Market Street, Philadelphia Philadelphia: John Wanamaker, 1926.
Courtesy Penn State University Library.

Additional information from file on Lit Brothers building in Philadelphia Historical Commission, xerox dated November 1981.


View of Lit Brothers from the corner of 7th and Market Streets, estimated date early 20th C. Courtesy of Philadelphia Historical Commission.

Lit Brothers Department Store expands entire north side of 700 Market Street.

In early 20th -Century Philadelphia, there were many locally owned department stores, all before the time of chain stores, big box retailers, and strip centers. Lit Brothers Department Store was one of the most successful mercantile businesses on Market St. By 1918, the store, which was a collection of cast-iron buildings, occupied the entire north side of the 700 block of Market St.ݬ

In the 1920s, Lit Brothers department store began acquiring property north to Arch St. The Lit Brothers built a subterranean cellar and a single story masonry building at the corner of North 7th and Filbert Streets which was their Auto Center.

Click here for printable version of this page. Sources:

www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/stories/2000/01/10/story5.html
www.culturalresourcegroup.com/pdf/philadelphia.pdf

Turmoil

In April 1977, City Stores (a subsidiary of Bankers Securities) filed for bankruptcy. Lit Brothers was forced to close due to these developments. In 1979, Lit Brothers was listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places. Beginning in 1980, the public became interested in saving the newly designated building and suggested possibilities for reusing the space. According to Thomas Hine, ideas ranged from turning the space into apartment buildings to a museum annex to a rock concert hall.

People picketing outside Lits Brothers protesting the closing of the department store, c. 1980. Photo courtesy of PAB Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Image of Lits Brothers at the corner of Market and Seventh Streets, June 1984. Photograph by James McGary, courtesy of Philadelphia Historical Commission.
What to do with the building?

Despite the public interest, the 13 buildings occupied by Lit Brothers faced destruction. Although the faade was to be retained, by April 1981, plans to turn the space behind into surface parking were eminent. The first demolition permit was issued and destruction of the buildings was scheduled to take place in October of 1981. After public outcry and demonstrations, city officials became involved and eventually, potential buyers emerged. The first permit expired, and for a time, Lits was safe. Two attempts to develop the space were devised by Bass Brothers of Fort Worth, Texas in 1982 and Hansen Properties of Ambler in 1983-1984; however, both plans were abandoned. By May 1984, another demolition permit was issued and the buildings current owners, Hansen Properties, who purchased the building in January of 1984, were ordered by the city of Philadelphia to either repair or demolish the 13 buildings encompassed by the Lit Brothers complex as soon as possible.


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Sources:

Hine, Thomas. The Lits facades: Paving paradise to put up a parking lot. Philadelphia Inquirer 16 April 1981.

Hine, Thomas. Demolition is expected to start soon. Philadelphia Inquirer 30 May 1984: 2-A.

Additional information obtained from file on Lit Brothers building in Philadelphia Historical Commission.


Image of Lits Brothers scaffolded during its restoration, Oct 24, 1986. Photograph by Stephen Shames, Philadelphia Inquirer. Courtesy of The Free Library of Philadelphia.
By late October 1986, the restoration of the Lit Brothers complex was coming to a close after what was described as one of the most ambitious restoration projects in the citys history (Cohn 2-B). The stone, brick, and terracotta faade of the thirteen individual buildings encompassed by Lits had turned gray in the years since its closure and were subsequently cleaned and painted cream. In addition, the interior space was reconfigured to accommodate offices and retail space, and tenants, such as Mellon Bank, were scheduled to move into their new offices. According to a plaque currently located on the building, the restoration was completed by Independence Center Reality under the leadership of architect Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Assoc., restoration architect John Milner Assoc., structural engineer ODonnell and Naccarato, Inc., mechanical engineer H. F. Lenz Co., and construction manager Gilbane Building Co. Upon this renovation, the building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1988.

Restored facade of Lit Brothers department store, c. 1988. Photo courtesy of www.painetworks.com.
View of Lits department store building after restoration at night, 1988. Photograph courtesy of Vincent Hauser.







Click here for printable version of this page.
Sources:

Cohn, Roger. Lits landmark is re-emerging. Philadelphia Inquirer 24 Oct. 1986: 2-B.

http://ushistory.org/birch/plates/plate12.htm


View of Mellon Independence Center from the corner of 8th and Market Streets, Sept 2005. Photograph by Alexis Casale.
Image of Mellon Independence Center awning, Sept 2005. Photograph by Alexis Casale.

The Present Face of Retail

The historic Lit Brothers Department store was restored and
converted into the Mellon Independence Center, which presently
sits on the700 block of Market Street. The building designated for
office and commercial use sits on 139, 392 square feet of land.
It houses a retail center on the first three levels, with stores such as
Ross and Dress Barn, and a banking operations center for
Mellon Bank on the upper levels.

The white building remains a symbol of Center City retail merchandising.

Sources:

Preservation in Practice, Cityspace
Citypaper.net/articles/2004-0/-15/cityspace.shtml

Vincent Hauser Architect
www.vincenthauser.com/mgmt/lits

The Board of Revision of Taxes
www.brtweb.phila.gov


The 1980 plan by Alley Friends Architects (at the left) labels the 700 block of Market Street as "Liberty Center", later renamed Mellon Independence Center. The plan furthermore exhibits the overall expansion of the blocks west of the Mellon Center mall, highlighting the commercial function beyond the studied 700 block of Market Street.
Plan of Oct 1980. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
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