At 1836 Delancey St., on the corner of one of the most regal blocks of Center City, sits a property that was given to General George Gordon Meade and his wife for his service in the Civil War. He died in the house in 1872.
The current structure is listed as being built in 1885, indicating this likely isn’t the true iteration of the building the General called home. The plain, red-painted brick building stands as an end cap to the picturesque street, with Meade’s name carved above the entryway on South 19th Street. The haphazard and unkempt paint job, its plain red wall with awkwardly spaced windows, and its overall bleak appearance are out of place for the block. The building retains some early-20th century detail in the partially damaged leaded glass windows. It sits directly across the street from the Furness-designed Horace Jayne residence at 1900 Delancey, which was recently restored to pristine condition as a private residence.
Looking down the street
For many years now, the almost 6,000 sqft dwelling has served as an unassuming apartment building, and as mentioned in a City Paper article, a “polite woman named Susan has owned it since the 1970s.” Tax records show full compliance for years, and it sold most recently this past January 2013 for $1.1M. The current owner is listed as an LLC under a nearby business address. It’s exterior has changed little for the past few decades, but has recently begun to be scrubbed of its exterior paint and is certainly fit for a rehab. This week, a crane is parked out front for the brick work currently underway, but it’s unclear yet as to the extent and quality of the upcoming construction. From the street it looks uninhabited.
Crane out front
As for the address’ historical inhabitant, born in the early 1800′s in Cádiz, Spain, General Meade came to the US and attended West Point as a teenager, and after graduation fought his first war before quickly resigning to design lighthouses. His architectural work includes Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island, Absecon Light in Atlantic City, Cape May Light in Cape May, and others in Florida. He returned to active military duty and was promoted up the ranks during the Civil War, winning the Battle of Gettysburg, loyally serving President Lincoln, and maintaining a professional adversary in Ulysses S. Grant.
A little love will go a long way
A site of local history in Philadelphia stands set for some much needed TLC, and a stately bookend will obviously enhance the charm of this already idyllic neighborhood. We will be watching to see if the developer preserves the significant name for the building’s next incarnation.
-Lauren Summers (née Meade)