726 Market Street

Click here for 728 Market Street

The 1795 Philadelphia City Directory is rare in that it lists residents by location (most city directories list residents by name). The resident at 726 Market Street in 1795 was Benjamin Shoemaker, who is identified only as "Gentleman." As the 1795 directory lists the person who lives at a given address, one can trace that person forward and backward in time in order to see if that person still lived at a given location. The 1791 Directory indicates that Shoemaker still lived at 726 Market Street. The earliest directory available, from 1785, does not list Shoemaker according to specific address, but it does identify that he lived between 7th and 8th Streets along Market.

A typical way to uncover the past owners of a property is to construct a chain of title (a string of deeds). The Department of Records at Philadelphia City Hall, however, does not have the deeds for 726 Market Street. While Shoemaker does not appear after the 1795 Directory, the Pennsylvania Historical Review of 1886 looks at a company that started at 726 Market Street in 1804. In the nine year span between 1795 and 1804, the function of the space moved from residential to commercial. Samuel H. Williams founded the company 1804 and passed it to Mrs. Elizabeth H. Williams upon his death in 1822 (Pennsylvania Historical Review 123). Isaac S. Williams, Samuel's son, acquired the company in 1830 (PHR 123). The Historical Review describes the building as follows: "The premises occupied are spacious, and comprise a commodious three-story building with basement, admirably arranged with every appliance and convenience for the accommodation of the large and valuable stock..." (PHR 123). To further examine this building on the property, one can consult fire insurance surveys. The Free Library of Philadelphia offers an extensive collection in their Maps Department. The first fire insurance atlas, from Ernest Hexamer and William Locher in 1860, gives basic information to help frame the description that the Pennsylvania Historical Review offers. The atlases that follow the original are of similar form and in some years note the particular company that occupied a building.

Image 1: 1860 Hexamer and Locher Fire Insurance Atlas

Through this 1860 atlas, one finds that 726 Market Street (marked "726" on the bottom of the image) had a three-and-a-half storey street front. The numbers written on the building show the number of stories in a given section. The color given to each building denotes its function. Pink denotes a building with the potential for residential or commercial use. The blue, like that of the back building marked "Tin Smith," denotes use solely for manufacturing or retail. Given the nature of the pink portion, however, one cannot determine whether the building was used solely for commercial purposes or if people resided on any of the floors. One can rule out Isaac S. Williams' own residency there for the 1840 McElroy Philadelphia City Directory lists Williams as living at 190 Chestnut Street. Similarly, the 1867 Gopsill lists Williams at 1206 Race Street. Taylor's 1861 watercolor depicts commercial show windows on the first floor of 726 Market, thus denoting the use of the first story. The image offers no hint at the use of the second or third stories, though. The fire insurance atlases do not show alterations to the building through the 1887 Hexamer Atlas, which is the last atlas available before the site combines with 728 through the construction of the Kirschbaum Building in 1891 (Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide 527). Fittingly, Gopsill's City Directories list Williams at 726 Market Street until their 1891 Directory (which he does not appear in). The 1887 Fire Insurance Atlas clears up the issue of mixed functions, though, as it labels 726 Market Street with an "S.," which means that the building was dedicated to commercial purposes.

728 Market Street

The 1795 Philadelphia City Directory lists Francis van Berckell, the Ambassador to Holland, as the occupant of 728 Market Street. Joseph Jackson, in a newspage from the 1914 Public Ledger, which is available in the Jane Campbell Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, describes van Berckell's residence as the "Dutch Embassy" (Campbell Collection 95). This description points to the multipurpose nature of the building as both home and office. In the 1801 City Directory, Benjamin Chew, the same Chew of Cliveden, appears at 728 Market Street and had established it as his law office and winter house (Jackson 211).

Other than these hints, the history of 728 Market Street is difficult to trace until the appearance of a transfer sheet in 1865. A transfer sheet lists the recital clause of a deed, which means that it lists the grantor and grantee as well as the date on which the deed was passed. Transfer sheets also describe a property's dimensions and location. One can obtain transfer sheets for a property at the Department of Records at City Hall. Generally, transfer sheets allow one to create a chain of title. According to the transfer sheet for 728 Market Street, however, Anna Bloodgood passed the property to Robert Morris MD through her will on March 10th, 1865. The 1865 McElroy City Directory lists Morris' home at 1413 Spruce, and subsequent directories show that he did not move to 728 Market Street. As the property passed to Morris through a will, no entry was made into the "grantor/grantee" index at the Philadelphia City Archives, and this index forms the backbone of a chain of title. Though the transfer sheet notes her death in 1865, Anna Bloodgood does not appear in any Philadelphia City Directories for the decade prior to her death.

Taylor's image links another name to the property, for in his watercolor appears a banner for "AP HUGHES MANUFACTURER." Amos P. Hughes first appears at 728 Market Street in an 1851 McElroy. This directory does not list a home address for him, however, so he may have based both his home and business from this same building. Nine years later, in the 1860 McElroy, the melodeon manufactory remains at 728 Market Street, but with the co-owners Margaret Hughes and Henry M. Morris. The Campbell Collection has an advertisement for Hughes' company that shows the interior of the building. Though the image is not dated, it was printed between 1851 and 1860 (the years that A.P. Hughes owned the company).

Image 2: 1850s view of 728 Market Street interior

The 1863 McElroy lists H.M. Morris as the sole owner of the business at 728 Market Street. After 1863, H.M. Morris' name does not appear in the directory and one can no longer trace the businesses at 728 Market.

Another type of document from this same time frame ties together Bloodgood and Morris' ownership of the building to the melodeon warehouse. This document, a Franklin Fire Insurance Company Survey, details all the structural changes that were made to 728 Market Street between 1859 and 1868. Such surveys are available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and an online database of the surveys exists at the Places In Time website, cited below. The survey for 728 Market fills four pages and includes two plans. Though much of the information deals with minor architectural details, the survey gives insight into the building's functions. Pages one and three below contain only text, while the images on pages 2 and 4 show plans for the property.

Page One Page Three

Image 3: 1859 Fire Insurance Survey Plan Page Two

Image 4: 1868 Fire Insurance Survey Plan Page Four

In a description made of the building on June 23, 1859 for Anna Bloodgood by Robert Morris, one finds that the building served as a store and dwelling. Morris also valued the property at $3,000. Though the survey does not reveal the 1859 function of the first story, it does name the uses of the second and third stories. Morris wrote that, "The second story is in one room occupied as a store room for Pianos and Melodeons." The third story functioned similarly, though it had three rooms, as a workshop for making and repairing melodeons. Behind the main building was a piazza, a back building, and a kitchen. The back building housed a store room and a dining room, and the kitchen occupied two stories. In 1859, 728 Market Street served primarily as a commercial space. In 1862, Morris, again writing for Bloodgood, made note of a new front on the first story of the building. Such a change reflects the commercial need to advertise the store to people on the sidewalk. The survey entry on March 28th, 1868, unlike that in 1862, details great changes to the building. Morris noted the removal of the back building, which allowed for the extension of the main building to 95 feet (it previously extended 47 feet back from the street). The first two stories consisted of two rooms. This creation of large, open rooms furthered the commercial capabilities of the building and shows how the building lost its residential character, though the two story kitchen remained behind the building. A comparison of the 1859 and 1868 plans reveals the significance of these alterations.

Image 5: 1860 Hexamer and Locher Fire Insurance Atlas

Hexamer and Locher's 1860 Fire Insurance Atlas represents 728 Market Street as a building with three-and-a-half stories along the street. When clicking on the above image, one can identify "728" along the bottom. One can clearly see the piazza, back building, and kitchen described in the fire insurance survey as the three segments behind the three-and-a-half story portion. The uncolored portion of the lot denotes an alley, which runs along the back building. The transfer sheet mentioned above indicates that the alley was three feet wide. The pink color of the lot denotes the mixed use of the building as a dwelling and store. The 1887 Hexamer Fire Insurance Atlas notes the changes described in the fire insurance survey in addition to the installation of a skylight, meant for the lighting of the open interior spaces. The 1887 Atlas also denotes the building's solely commercial purpose.



Franklin Fire Insurance Surveys, Philadelphia City Directories and Jane Campbell Collection available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

From the Campbell Collection,

Jackson, Joseph. Public Ledger - Philadelphia, Sunday Morning, October 25 1914, and Public Ledger - Philadelphia, Sunday Morning, November 22, 1914. From the Jane Campbell Collection, pp. 94-99 and 101, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia City Directories are also available at Haverford College Special Collections

Franklin Fire Insurance Survey Database available at Places in Time

Fire Insurance Atlases are available at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Jackson, Joseph. America's Most Historic Highway: Market Street, Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Wanamaker, 1926.

Pennsylvania Historical Review: Gazetteer, Post-Office, Express, and Telegraph Guide. City of Philadelphia. Leading Merchants and Manufacturers. Philadelphia: Historical Publishing Company, 1886.

Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, v. 6, n. 33, p. 527, 8/19/1891.

Above citation taken from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project


Last revised on 20 March 2006, MG Feedback