History


Hotchkin describes the boundaries of Mount Airy as Carpenter Lane to the west and Gorgas Lane to the east, Mermaid Lane to the north, and as far as Washington Lane to the south. As to how it got its name, he says: "The name is said to come from the airy position of the district, and the ground rises as we leave Carpenter street. It is believed to have been given by Chief Justice Allen to his country-seat, and to have been widened out to embrace the district." (p. 349)

In general Hotchkin refers to many of the former inhabitants of Mount Airy as old settlers tracing their roots back to 1750.

One of the institutions described by Hotchkin is the Lutheran Orphanage and Home for the Aged. The Home was built in 1862 of red brick, diversified with black stripes. Its location, on land formerly owned by Jacob Derr, may be seen on the 1885 Atlas included in this report.

The Steamboat House in Mount Airy was a public house owned by Mrs. Charlotte Bostwick who purchased it from Erasmus J. Pierce, a former sea captain.

According to Hotchkin Erasmus Pierce held a large tract of land in Mount Airy. He sold some of this land to an architect named Ashton S. Tourison who built a double cottage of modern design (in 1889, Victorian) for rent (p. 354). This architect and his designs will be elaborated upon later in this report.

There were quite a few churches in Mount Airy and Hotchkin related the history of many of them. The site of Grace Church can be seen one block from one of Tourison's double cottages on the 1885 and 1889 Atlases.

The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church and the Mount Pleasant Avenue M.E. Church were also fully described.

Mount Airy College was a military school built on the former estate of Justice Allen. The Allens' property was confiscated during the Revolution because the Allens were Loyalists. The property eventually came to be owned by James Gowen and after his death became the Lutheran Theological Seminary. The building was described as light gray stone with red brick trim with two three-story wings in the collegiate gothic style added later. (p. 367)

James Gowen's son, Franklin B., was once the President of the Reading Railroad and had a house in Mount Airy near Cresheim Creek. Most inhabitants of Mount Airy were not upper class like the Gowens and the Allens however.

Another institution mentioned in Hotchkin and located near the Tourison double cottage was the Lovett Memorial Free Library. Mrs. Charlotte Bostwick donated $25,000 to endow this library in memory of her brother, Thomas R. Lovett. It still exists today and operates as a branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


Lets move now to look at Physical Layout from Atlases
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