The first of Taylor’s watercolors is that of two buildings on Spruce Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Close examination of the watercolor reveals that the house at the far right of the picture is No. 230, and house No. 228 is immediately to the left. Both houses have shops at street level, and presumably dwelling areas upstairs.
At the time of Taylor’s watercolor, 230 Spruce Street was owned by James E. Brown and his wife, Elizabeth. Though the deed conveying the house to Mr. Brown is of poor quality and difficult to read, it is believed that he purchased the house in 1857 for the sum of $175. Mr. Brown’s profession is given as “Gentleman” on the deed. As the Philadelphia City directories for 1861 do not show a listing for James E. Brown on Spruce Street, it is believed that the Browns rented the property, and lived elsewhere in the city. The sign on the shop at No. 230 displays a boot, suggesting that perhaps Mr. Brown let the space to a cobbler.
Deed records for 228 Spruce Street indicate that this property was also owned by the Brown family during the time of Taylor’s watercolor. An August 13, 1850 deed conveyed this property from Thomas Stewart to Elizabeth Brown, his daughter. The property was then bequeathed to Mrs. Brown’s seven children in 1875. Click Here to Continue
Hexamer Map 1860. Nos. 228-230 Spruce Street are recorded as dwellings with Shops on the bottomfloor.
A 1957 photo of Spruce Street shows house Nos. 220-230 shortly before the properties were condemned by the Philadelphia RDA
Nos. 226-230 Spurce Street in 2005