As a Comcast customer, you can handle most account matters online or over the phone. But if you ever need to return an old cable box, make payment in person, or just give them a piece of your mind with the help of dramatic facial expressions, you need to visit a Comcast Service Center. If you live in Pennsport, chances are it’s the one at 1351 S. Columbus Blvd. Flanked by a scary lot of unkempt woods on one side and a scary lot of unkempt grass on the other, this hardly looks like the site of a major industrial operation. But that it was according to the image below from G.W. Bromley’s 1895 Philadelphia Atlas.
The Delaware Sugar Refinery in 1895
According to engineer George Newhall, whose court testimony is recorded in the 1912 volume, United States of America, Petitioner, Against the American Sugar Refining…
The Benjamin Franklin House is one of the more elegant living solutions in Center City. Occupying the Southeast corner of 9th & Chestnut, the residential building and mega-ballroom are collectively referred to by familiars as The Ben. As its name implies, the site has an intimate relationship with the city’s history as well as a somewhat lengthy list of former occupants. According to Bryn Mawr College, occupants through the early and mid 19th century included Cook’s Circus and Chinese Museum (1838), Burton’s National Theatre (1841), and John Mustin Jr. Trimmings, Threads, Bindings, Fringes, etc. store. The last of these is shown here below in an 1851 sketch taken from Philadelphia Buildings.
Mustin Trimmings, get your threads, bindings and fringes here in 1851
The building that housed these three prior occupants burned to the ground in 1854. For at least…
We were in the area the other day, dodging the rain, and spotted a ‘For Sale’ sign on 607 N 18th St., a property that’s caught our eye in the past. We’ve wondered about the mystery former business that once occupied the now vacant storefront, as well as the unattractive facade in a neighborhood full of beautiful buildings.
Looking back at old real estate listings, the property has changed hands a couple of times in the past decade, and the commercial tenant was a corner store of sorts named Candyland (no trademark, we’d guess). Take a look at this low-res photo from back in 2003.
Fun times. And apparently the home next door is newer construction.
The property is on the market for a probably a little too…
A three-story red brick building stands on the north side of Bainbridge between 9th and 10 Streets, serving as a multi-unit condominium. However, the historical marker in front of the structure hints at its significance in improving the lives of Philadelphia’s African American citizens well before the start of the Civil War. The story of the structure begins with a series of race riots in 1829. According to Explore PA History, Quaker and slave-trader Richard Humphreys witnessed these violent clashes and gained a newfound appreciation for the struggle of the city’s African-descended populations. He revised his will just three years prior to his death, bequeathing $10,000 to establish the Institute for Colored Youth. First opened on a farm outside of the city proper in 1840, the school came to occupy 915 Bainbridge St. by 1866. The image here below, taken from G.M. Hopkins’ 1875 Philadelphia Atlas, shows the Institute directly across…
A reader checked in the other day, wondering why the northeast corner of 22nd & Lombard is a parking lot. Considering its stellar Fitler Square location, one would think that developers would have picked this 60′x68′ property up years ago and constructed new homes on this site, probably with some garages to boot.
Prime parking lot
The parking lot was (as you can imagine) home to buildings at one point. Back in 1959, Joseph Tompkins petitioned the ZBA for permission to tear down the existing buildings, which consisted of three dwellings that were so substandard “that would not warrant the cost of putting them in first class shape,” and a dilapidated former harness shop on the corner. The ZBA approved, and the parking lot has persisted for over fifty years.
Meanwhile, across the street from this surface lot is one of our…
Last week, we looked into the history of Philly’s venerated Museum of Art. Today, we consider another of the city’s Greek-influenced cultural landmarks. The flagship building of The University of the Arts, Dorrance Hamilton Hall, stands between Pine and Spruce Streets on the west side of Broad. The University’s Eugene Bolt tells that the building was conceived by architect John Haviland, most famous for previously designing the Eastern State Penitentiary. Erected in 1824, it is the oldest building still standing on Broad Street.
However, an image taken from G.M. Hopkins’ 1875 Philadelphia Atlas shows that the art school was originally an educational institution of a different kind. For its first 70 years, Haviland’s building housed the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, alternately known as Philadelphia’s Deaf and Dumb Asylum.
In addition to being one…