Due to the fact that Philadelphia has existed for hundreds of years, all sorts of oddities occur across the cityscape. One such oddity can be found on the 400 block of Bainbridge Street, hidden among a row of homes. Down an alleyway at 412 Bainbridge St. sits a collection of homes called Bainbridge Court.

Entrance to Bainbridge Court
Closer look
Peeking through the fence

Perhaps you’re wondering, “what’s Bainbridge Court and why should I care?” To answer the first question, Bainbridge Court is made up of ten homes, mostly trinities, surrounding a courtyard, accessed via a walking path that terminates at Bainbridge Street. We visited one of these homes once in the past, maybe a decade ago, and forgot about it entirely until a reader reached out because they were wondering about the property. That reader was curious as to why this little courtyard exists and was hoping to learn something about its history.

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Map from 1895

Sadly, we’re feeling a little useless on this front. We took a look at some historic maps, and saw that the parcel has been divided into small properties since the 19th century and that the alleyway was known at one point as Bergan Court. From the Zoning Archive, we see that the homes were renovated in the 1950s and the 1960s, and we believe that the most recent significant renovation occurred in the late 1970s. But none of this explains why these little homes were first built around a courtyard, off the city grid.

We confess, we didn’t dig too deep on this subject and have to assume that someone else was able to find out more about the history of this property somewhere along the line. Perhaps someone out there lives in the neighborhood and has heard about how these homes came to be? Any additional insights would be welcome in the comments.