The northeast corner of 5th & South has come to reflect the identity of its surrounding neighborhood at various points in history, beginning as far back as 1775. This is when, according to the Library Company of Philadelphia, English gentleman Charles Hurst erected his estate. At this juncture, according to The Black Bottom, South Street was known as Cedar Street and was the southernmost boundary of the city proper. Old Cedar Street is shown here below in an image taken from John Hills map of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
Cedar Street serving as the border between Philadelphia and Southwark in 1808
Baron Hurst, as he was also known, possessed a wealth of land in Society Hill during the Revolutionary Era but the Mansion served as his primary residence. The watercolor painting below is taken from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and shows the estate as it would have appeared in 1817.
The northeast corner of 5th & Gaskill in Society Hill does not appear to warrant much consideration at first glance. The red brick row homes here blend quietly (and unattractively) into the scenery just above South Street. However, this lot has changed hands frequently and has been used for a wide spectrum of purposes. According to the Taylor Watercolors Project, we can trace the history of this lot as far back as 1802, when it served as a one-story carpenter's shop. Later that same year, it became the site of the Fourth Presbyterian Congregation. This initiated the location’s long and varied history serving as a place of worship for a multitude of congregations. The Fourth Presbyterian sold its home to the First Church of the Disciples of Christ in 1841, who in turn sold to a laborer named Richard Wilson. We don’t know what happened to Wilson but the First Colored Methodist Protestant Israel Church bought the lot for a tidy sum of $5 in 1853. The image below, taken from Hexamer & Locher’s Philadelphia Atlas, shows that the Colored Methodist Church remained on the corner in 1858.
The most visible change to the building, which is being converted into 66 apartments, is the replacement of the vast majority of windows. While previously the building looked like it was rotting, it now looks like it could actually be an attractive place to live. We look forward to seeing this project completed, but not as much as the many businesses nearby who will surely appreciate the influx of new local customers.
Sometimes in Philadelphia, it seems the world has turned upside down. According to the Daily News, residents gathered outside the Mother Bethel AME Church at 6th & Lombard last night for a vigil, praying that Historical Commission would change its mind on a project it recently approved. The project in question is a four-story, six-unit building at the southwest corner of 6th & Addison which would, architecturally, not blend in with the surrounding historic neighborhood. We brought this corner to your attention a year and a half ago, when plans were for two new homes rather than apartments.
Though the primary dish has changed considerably over the duration, 507 S. 6th St. has been a popular local eatery of some variety for well over a century now. Its first notable occupant was Abe Levis, a Lithuanian who fled to America at age fourteen to avoid being drafted into the Czar’s army. In 1896, the young entrepreneur had opened a sandwich shop at the location shown here below in an image from G.W. Bromley’s Philadelphia Atlas.