The Four Seasons is a sanctuary of opulence amid the bustle of Logan Square.  Enclosed by 18th, 19th, Race, and Cherry Streets, the five-star hotel brand came to Philly in the 1980s.

Four Seasons

Outdoor space

More than a century before the hotel boom came to Philadelphia, the city experienced a medical industry boom.  Among the many specialty treatment facilities that sprang up in the early and mid 19th century, the original Wills Eye Hospital opened where the Four Seasons currently stands.  Opened in 1831 thanks to a generous contribution from the wealthy and recently deceased Quaker merchant James Wills, the image taken from Samuel L. Smedley’s 1862 Philadelphia Atlas identifies it as Wills Hospital for Diseases of the Eye.

In 1862

According to the Wills Eye Hospital Society, “a typical monthly budget in that era was approximately $250 and included everything from milk to medicines. The City Council of Philadelphia managed the hospital until 1869 when it was taken over by the Board of Directors of City Trusts.”

In a number of publications, the facility was known by the less politically sensitive name Wills Hospital for the Relief of the Indigent, Blind and Lame.  Some of the indigent, blind and lame are shown below in a turn of the century picture taken from the Wills Eye Hospital Society website.  Below that, a blurry photo from 1910 shows a roomful of physicians posing in a surgical room without masks or gloves.

Ward at Wills

Sanitary surgery optional

A photo here below shows the edifice of the building in what appears to be the late 1890s.

Double time. Image from Wikipedia

In 1932, the hospital moved to 16th & Spring Garden, leaving a vacancy for the Municipal Court shown in the 1942 Works Progress Administration map shown here.

In 1942

The Four Seasons would replace the Municipal Court in 1983.  Wills would move twice more, first to 9th & Walnut in 1980 and, just over 20 years later, directly across the street.

–David Tomar