By the mid-19th century, many families of industrial and mercantile wealth
began to move west, across Broad Street, to the next purely residential
elite neighborhood. Their new townhouses rose in distinctively modern Victorian
styles, often with stone fronts that were implicitly something of a rebuke
to the older streetscapes of uniform rows with brick, white marble trim,
and dark green shutters. If our area became something of a social backwater
relative to the Rittenhouse Square area rising to preeminence in the 1870s,
it began to take on a new character as the home of worthy old families less
caught up in modern ostentation. The areas around Walnut, Locust, Spruce,
and Pine became the haunt of these "Old Philadelphians," and of
libraries, private schools, clubs, artistic "Bohemia," antiquarian
interests, and antique shops.
Aging, a bit worn at the edges, in the 1890s this enclave accommodated new
townhouses by the city's best young architects -- Wilson Eyre, Frank Miles
Day, Brown & Day -- in styles that indulged in affectionate anachronisms
and often kept to the scale of the in-town pied-a-terre rather than the
exhibitionism of the large new mansion. Alongside were the holdouts, the
families that retained their now venerable antebellum mansions. And just
beginning to rise were the new tall apartment buildings that were soon preferred
to the townhouse by the old elite families, starting with the Gladstone
at 11th and Pine Street in 1890. These would multiply, increase in height,
and broaden their clientele through the 1920s.
Section D: [exhibition]
LAst revision. 03/10/00 eb.