Nicholas Waln was undoubtedly one of the most eccentric characters in colonial Philadelphia. Stories from the Perkins and Campbell collections augment a narrative from the Eberlen and Lippincott 1912 publication "The Colonial Homes of Philadelphia and its Neighborhoods" creating an insight into Waln's character. Waln's family home was Fairhill in what is now Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Waln began his career as a lawyer, but as the following antidote illustrates he soon became disillusioned with the profession. When traveling home from trying a case in Bucks County, Waln stopped by his friend's country home and is reported to have said, "I did the best that I could for my client, gained the case for him, and thereby defrauded an honest man out of his just due. " After this he never practiced law again and instead became a Quaker minister.

It is Nicholas Waln who is responsible for the narrow street frontage the property has in the 1861 Taylor watercolor. Originally the house had a garden to the front and side. Waln sells the south east portion of the lot and house is built on that corner of the original property, leaving an open space of 20-25 feet back to the Waln house. Later a small office was built by Waln's neighbor to the south. leaving only several feet for an entrance. Not only his Waln loose his street frontage to this neighbor, but he also frequently accused his neighbor of stealing wood from his woodpile. Waln died iin1813 at the age of 71 and the home passed into the hands of his wife. Waln's widow, the former Sarah Richardson, aside from being one of the few female property owners in Philadelphia in the early 19th century, also managed to create a cookbook that still remains in the collection of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. The site continued to have a vibrant life until the 20th century when Society Hill as a whole became an area of urban blight as structures were abandoned or allowed to fall into disrepair. In the 1950's and 1960's the City of Philadelphia undertook a massive urban renewal plan that eventually transformed Society Hill into the elit residential neighborhood that it is today. The site where 254 S. Second St. once stood became part of a block with a residential tower designed by modernist architect I.M.Pei. back to 254 S. Second St.