Who's Who

Who Built this House? 

This is a trick question, since there are multiple right answers. The answers might be a developer, a property owner, an architect, a builder, or any combination of these. Furthermore, any one of them could have been responsible for directing the design.

Between property atlases and deed searches one can frequently identify one of the title holders close to when a house was constructed. One needs to be aware of a few things when doing this type of research. First, names on property atlases may not be correct. While they are usually pretty good, they are not legal records. For this reason, a title search is always the backbone of any research. Second, when using secondary sources, including nomination forms, check the citations. Frequently, names and dates are based on stylistic observations, oral tradition, or other secondary sources. The only way to verify their accuracy is to do a title search. Third, property was sometimes exchanged between speculators and other partners as a form of credit. Fourth, the name of residents and architects may never appear on deeds or atlases. Census records and City directories can be used to help identify the former. For the latter, one can consult the Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930, by Roger W. Moss and Sandra L. Tatman.

To help in this endeavor, this page has been assembled. It is an alphabetical listing of architects, builders, financiers, speculators, and others involved in the building of West Philadelphia. Because of the overlapping role of so many of the people involved, the only separation is that architect's names are in italics. Even there, roles can blur. For example, Samuel Sloan started as a carpenter, became an architect, and accepted property as speculative payment. A "find in page" search may prove helpful when looking for a specific person or place.

In general, the terms that were used historically are used here. For example, when documentation uses 'Convayencer' and 'Real Estate man,' the word 'developer' is not substituted.

Listing of Architects, Land Owners, Developers, Real Estate Men: 
A-B | C | DE-F | G-H | I-K | L | M | N-P | Q-S | T-V | W-Z


  • Thomas Allibone 
    Appears to be a broker or speculator involved in a series of transactions where Nathaniel Browne consolidated land around Mill Creek in 1851. Resells the land back to Browne in 1858 as lots in exchange for securities (stocks and bonds). Allibone's name also appears on transfers in Hamiltonville including property bought by Ellen Drexel in 1856 and later transferred to Anthony Drexel.
  • Andrews, Jacques and Rantouil
    Architects who came out of HH Richardson’s office in Boston. Designed Clarence Howard Clark, Jr. house SW corner of 42nd and Spruce.
  • R.C. Ballinger & Co.
    Building and Contracting Firm. Richard Ballinger is Sr. partner. In business in Phila since 1870. Started as bricklayer and mason. Made alterations and additions to M.S. Dixey and Rev. Dr. Palmer, at 37 and Locust.
  • Ralph B. Bencker (1883-1961)
    Architect. Started his architectural training working for Wilson Eyre. He then went to work for the firm Price and McLanahan. After Price's death in 1919 it became McLanahan and Benecker. In 1928 he designed the State Movie theatre (109 S. 52 St demolished). Involved in the Clarence Siegel's Garden Court Plaza, begun in 1926. The design has been credited as an example of effective planning in addressing needs for light, air, space, utilities, access, and appearance.
  • Max Bernhardt 
    Architect for Winchester Apartments, 4804-4806 Chester Avenue, 1927.
  • Harry Bob
    Developer of the “Larchwood," 49th and Larchwood.
  • Nathaniel B. Browne
    A conveyancer actively involved in many West Philadelphia land transactions from the 1850s-70s. The first being a speculative building operation with S. A. Harrison. These two collaborated on a series of building projects in and beyond southwestern Hamiltonville. Samuel Sloan was the architect for most if not all of these projects. Browne was also involved in consolidating lands from the Hamilton Family Estate. By the 1860s he was working with Clarence H. Clark. One of Browne's major real estate accomplishments was bringing the University of Pennsylvania to West Philadelphia.
    From the 1850s onward, it appears that Browne lived in West Philadelphia, although he maintained a downtown office at least some of the time. He is referred to in City directories as an Attorney-at-law, and was also the West Philadelphia Post Master around 1860. The University of Delaware has a brief biography along with a summary of Browne's papers in their collections.
  • William Bull
    Architect for the Netherlands Apartment building, 4300-4322 Chestnut, c.1910. 


  • Clarence H. Clark (1833-1906) 
    Born into the banking family of E. W. Clark, Clarence became a major landowner and financier in West Philadelphia. He was deeply involved in the development of the area. Exactly how much so has never been fully investigated. In addition to developing land through intermediaries like McKlosky and William S. Kimball, Clarence was President of the Centennial National Bank. This bank was involved in financing real estate operations in the 1880s and probably earlier.
    One of the conveyancers Clark buys land from is Nathaniel Browne. Clark was involved in real estate operations about the same time he moved to West Philadelphia (early 1860s). He continued to work downtown at his family’s private bank, E.W. Clark & Co. along with his brother Edward W., Fredrick S. Kimball, and H. H. Wainright. By the end of the Civil War, Clarence was also President of the chartered First National Bank. In 1867 he had John McArthur design a new building for this bank. In 1876 Clarence opened the Centennial National Bank, prominently and conveniently located nearly across from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station on the 3100 block of Market Street.
    Clarence married Amie Hampton Wescott and they had two sons, Joseph Still Clark & Clarence H. Jr.; but Amie died in 1870 during child birth. Clarence married again in 1873 to Marie Motley Davis and they had a son, Charles. Joseph's son Joseph S. Clark Jr, would go on to be elected Mayor of Philadelphia as well as Senator.
    Chestnutwold was Clarence Clark's own personal estate and pleasure grounds. It covered the block from 42nd to 43rd, Spruce-Locust Street and reflected Clarence's interest in horticulture. Chestnuts, Oaks, and Azaleas could be viewed around the conservatory. At the bottom of the hill were naturalistic ponds from the remnants of Mill Creek and on the north edge of the property were hot houses for plants. In his obituary it was stated that "Many of Mr Clark's friends are of the opinion that the whole or a large part of the magnificent plot of ground surrounding the residence will be given to the city as a public park. The gardens contain some of the rarest specimens of plant life in the city and are a veritable flower garden throughout the Spring and Summer." However, those were not the terms of the final Will and eventually it was sold to become the Divinity School (1917).
    Samuel Hopkins appears to be the builder for Clark, but probably not the architect. Possible architect's for the Chestnutwold house are John McArthur and Samuel Sloan since Clark used both of them for other projects in the 1860s. For alterations and a later addition in the 1880s, Frank Furness has been suggested as the architect. This seems to be because Furness has been credited for designing houses at 4047-61 Spruce Street for Clark in 1880, and Furness and Hewitt designed Centennial National Bank for Clark in 1875.
    Clarence, Jr., built a house across the street, on the SW corner of 42nd and Spruce Streets. This house, designed by Boston firm Rantoule, Jaques, still stands. Images of both houses are available at Places in Time website (under Photographs, see King's Views, Residences-City).
    In addition to banking, Clark was involved in a number of institutions, sat on the board of Directors of the Norfolk & Western and in 1880 bought the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio RR. He was one of the founders of the Union League (1862) to support the Union cause, an active Unitarian, 14th President of the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, and a member of the Genealogical Society. The Public Ledger's obituary noted that he was generous, but angered if public mention was made of his gifts. Much of Clark Park was once a part of his land holdings as was the land donated for Walnut West Library branch.
    Born in Providence RI April 19, 1833 son of Enoch White Clark & Sarah Crawford Dodge. Died March 6, 1906.
  • Thomas Clark 
    This Clark's role is not yet been ascertained. Appears to have had built the South side of 42 and Chester on speculation. He may have been the builder. It is not known if he is the same as the engineer with that name or if he was related to Clarence H Clark's family. The Chester Avenue land was sold to William Jenks by Robert Lindsay in exchange for ground rents. Resold to Thomas Clark in 1870.
  • George B. Colliere 
    Real Estate man. Built over 50 brownstone rowhouses along Walnut Street, Woodland Avenue and 33rd Street at the end of the 1870s. The only person with a similar name in city directories of that time is George B. Collier who is a candle manufacture working and living downtown. It's possible he is the same man and he was more of an investor speculator than a real estate dealer.
  • John T. Coneys 
    Architect. One of the main architects who worked with Clarence Siegel on the Garden Court projects. Designed the Garden Court apartment house 1922, along with many of the nearby houses.
  • Cope and Stewardson 
    This architecture firm was formed in July of 1885 and was best known for designs of college buildings. Their work for the University of Pennsylvania includes the Quadrangle dormitories (c.1895), the Sharswood Law School building, and others. 
    John Stewardson was from Philadelphia but had studied in Paris at the Atalier Pascall and the École des Beaux Arts. In 1882 Stewardson began working in Philadelphia for T. P. Chandler, Jr., then later Furness and Evans, and then in Chicago. 
    Walter Cope was also from Philadelphia. He studied Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and then went to work for Addison Hutton and then Chandler. He later added to his studies traveling abroad for two years. 
    They were both Members of the Sketch club, T Square, and the AIA.


  • Henry Dagit
    Architect of St. Francis De Sales Roman Catholic Church at 4625 Springfield Avenue, 1907.
  • I. Demchick 
    Architect working in the Garden Court area, mostly between 49th and 50th Streets. Houses at 49th and Osage attributed to him 1919 as well as apartment houses at 4900-08 Pine & 4950 Pine, 1922 and the row of houses, 4910 – 4948 Pine, 1922.
  • A.W. Dilks 
    Architect for a number of West Philadelphia houses that appeared in architectural magazines around the turn of the century.
  • Anthony J. Drexel (1826-1893) 
    A major nineteenth-century Philadelphia financier who made his fortune in both banking and speculative development. Drexel purchased large plots of land throughout West Philadelphia primarily for development. In the 1850s, real estate directories describe him as a broker working at Drexel & Company (founded 1838) on 3rd Street. Later directories call him a banker. Drexel was co-owner of Philadelphia's Public Ledger and in 1871, joined with J.P. Morgan to establish the international bank of Drexel, Morgan & Company.
    By 1855 he was living in West Philadelphia (33rd & Race) while working downtown. By 1860 he was living on the SE corner of 39th and Walnut and did not move after that. Who the Drexels used as their architect is not known for sure. His house has been attributed to Samuel Sloan, or possibly Stephan Decatur Button or John McArthur, Jr. Nicole Fisher suggests also Gustuvus, the architect for their offices downtown, as a possible designer. Anthony Drexel's children stayed in the neighborhood, living at 3810 Walnut (demolished for new mansion), 3809 Locust, and 3813 Locust (both still standing). Design of at least one of these houses has been attributed to the Wilson Bros., and another to T. Rooney Williamson.
    George Thomas has found that Drexel & Co. was providing capital for operations on land that they had purchased. One of the later architects used to design buildings for Drexel & Co. operations was William Price. It is remarkably coincidental that a good portion of the land Siegel developed into the Garden Court community had also been Drexel & Co. property. Price was not employed by Siegel, but was also leading an effort to create a synthesized community at approximately the same time. Whether the Drexels were involved in Siegel's vision or simply selling the land requires further investigation.
    In 1891 Anthony founded Drexel Institute (now a University) aimed at advanced technical education for working class men and women. He had it built on the site of the Allison Car Works, 32nd and Chestnut Street. His architect for this project was Joseph Wilson (Wilson Bros.).


  • Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) 
    Architect whose work consistently stood out as artistic and coherent throughout his long career. His best known examples of residential work in West Philadelphia include the alteration of the Samuel Sloan’s William Loftland house (SW corner of 42nd and Pine) and the Henry Cochran House (36 & Baring) 1891. Wilson Eyre (along with Frank Miles Day and Cope & Stewardson ) designed the University Museum, creating a warmness even in one of his most formal designs.
    The Penn Architectural Archives have an online introduction to their collection of Wilson Eyre materials. Included are sketches of the Cochran house, and the University Museum. It provides an excellent introduction to Eyre and several of his projects including the University Museum, and the Mask and Wig Club.
  • J. Fuller 
    Architect of the 4-story regency revival apartment house, 419-29 South 48th Street, 1927.
  • Frank Furness (1839-1912)
    One of Philadelphia's best known 19th century architects. Many of Frank Furness's buildings are readily identifiable, however his work on row houses and as an employee is harder to determine without documentation. His buildings are known for being bold, with extensive use of cut red brick and shadow to create strong, often sublime statements. His father was an outspoken Unitarian minister in Philadelphia, credited as the only prominent abolitionist clergyman in the City during the Civil War. Frank Furness joined the Union Cavalry. In recognition of his bravery under fire, Furness later received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
    Frank Furness began his architecture under the tutelage of Richard Morris Hunt in New York before the War broke out. After the War, he began practicing in Philadelphia. His partnership with George Hewitt, which lasted until 1875, brought national recognition and many commissions. In 1881, he formed Furness, Evans & Co. with Allen Evans, his chief draftsman, who had come out of Samuel Sloan's office.
    His best known building in West Philadelphia is the home of the Fischer Fine Arts Library on the University of Pennsylvania. He also was architect for the nearby Centennial National Bank (now owned by Drexel University). Residential work in the area attributed to Furness includes alterations to Clark's Chestnutwold, and a row of Spruce Street (4047-4061) in 1876.
    Further biographical and career synopsis can be found at the University Archives Furness Collection and the Philadelphia Building and Architects Project Furness page.


  • Annesley R. Govett 
    Apparently the same as Robert A. Govette, a builder involved in three major projects between 1868 and 1878: 
    1 - Walnut to Sansom, 34th to 36th Streets 
    2 – Spruce Street between 37th and 38th 
    3 – Pine to Woodland, 39th to 40th Streets.* 
    * Part of the National Register nomination for the "Drexel Development" historic district.
    While he has been described as a lumber merchant, city directories suggest that he started as a house carpenter, as worked a short time as an insurance agent, and then became a builder of speculative housing. Be 1865 he appears to have moved to West Philadelphia on Walnut Street. It is believed he also was a lumber merchant.
  • Willis G. Hale (1848-1907) 
    This Philadelphia architect was amongst those whose buildings made strong, striking impressions. While his work remained locally accepted, even lauded, into the 1890s, by then the national trend was toward the picturesque and the elegant. At Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project, there is a more detailed summary of Willis G. Hale and his work.
    In West Philadelphia he is credited with the twins from 4501 to 4527 Regent Street, 1890. Houses at 3901-3923 Walnut Street, 112-132 39th Street, and a building at 36th and Chestnut for William Weightman and Edward T. Davis's Mansion, 38th & Ludlow. The contractors for at least some of these projects were B. Ketchan & Sons.
  • William Hamilton 
    A gentlemen botanist and landlord. In 1762, at age 18, William gained control of his inheritance; which included much of the land bounded by the Schuylkill River and Market Street to roughly today's 42nd Street. On it were a few tenant farms while the core was his personal estate The Woodlands. In 1804 he had laid out the streets for Hamilton Village. Eventually this developed into a fashionable residential area which in turn made a good foundation for the first speculative builders of the 1850s. Hamilton was an avid botanist and Anglophile. These loves were clearly reflected in his home, The Woodlands. By the early 1800s it was considered one of the most perfect examples of an English country estate this side of the Atlantic. In his hot houses and on his grounds he had thousands of botanical species.
  • Hamilton Family Estate 
    William Hamilton became responsible for his nieces and nephews in 1784, although he himself never married or had children. After William's death, his nephew James inherited the estate and continued to reside there until his death in 1817. In 1827, the mansion house and surrounding grounds were sold by sheriff to help settle a dispute amongst the heirs. It was bought by the administrator for the estate, who then sold it to Thomas Flemming about two years later. However, many other remaining pieces of ground remained in the Estate name for years.
  • George Hancock 
    City surveyor through the Centennial, and until about 1870 when he retired and concentrated on real estate. He was Treasurer of the West Philadelphia Institute, Treasurer of the Mantua Market Company, President of the Mantua Building Association, and Manager for the Home of Aged and Infirm Colored Persons.
  • Samuel A. Harrison
    A tile manufacturer, who worked in partnership with Nathaniel Browne, a lawyer, perhaps providing the capital. Together they launched some of the earliest speculative developments in West Philadelphia that have been documented (1851). Each block was designed as a whole by their architect, Samuel Sloan. Harrison situated his own house, also designed by Sloan, in the center of one of these new blocks. (506-8 S. 41rst St, now demolished). Harrison's company made encaustic tiles, terra cotta urns and the like. Illustrations of his tiles graced the pages of some of Samuel Sloan's books The Model Architect, and American Houses (back page color plate). At one point he was also a merchant selling stoves and fireplace products.
  • Edward Hazlehurst (1853-1915)
    Architect who studied at the University of Pennsylvania and received training from Chandler & Furness. He is best known locally for his work in the partnership Hazlehurst and Huckel starting in 1879. The firm worked in conjunction with Harrison Bros. paints in producing exterior paint schemes used for promotion. Some of these designs were based on actual buildings. However the actual scheme used on the building may or may not have been represented. Generally the same buildings were shown on several illustrations with different paint schemes.
    A contemporary description said their work exemplified “The modern practical school of architecture, as directly adapted with numerous modifications to suit the wants of the American public." Further that the “firm has acquired a high reputation for the beauty and reliability of its plans”. It also claimed they were highly connected to old Philadelphia families.
    In West Philadelphia they worked on both single residences and designs for speculative operations. These include: 
    • 1889 Hamilton Whist Club 39th & Spruce 
    • 1890 Joseph Cowen Res. alts & add. 121 S. 39th 
    • 1891 Manuel Gilbee Res. 47 & Chester; (5) Res 4702-10 Chester Ave.; Res. Operations 42 & Spring Garden 
    • 1895 Stores & res. (6) Lancaster Ave above 42nd 
    • 1896 M.F. Hamilton alts. & add. to Res 38 & Locust 
    • 1902 Fourth Presbyterian Church (now Crusaders for Christ Church, 1201 S. 47th Street)
  • George W. Hewitt and William D. Hewitt 
    George Hewitt began his career under J.C. Hoxie in 1857, then later under John Notman. In 1865, George worked for John Frazer, which in two years became Fraser, Furness, & Hewitt. In 1871 Fraser left, and in 1875 Furness & Hewitt decided to dissolve the partnership. Within a few years, he was joined by his brother William in the new firm of G.W. & W.D. Hewitt. William was born in Burlington NJ, but studied architecture both in the States and abroad before joining his brother. The Hewitts tended to work in the mainstream of the time, generally drawing loosely on traditional English architecture for their residential work. However George in particular was known for his work for churches, and they did many commercial and public buildings as well. Perhaps the best known in Philadelphia today is the Reading Terminal Train Shed & Market.
    G.W. & W.D. Hewitt appear to have been the architects for many of the building operations in the post Centennial years. It is known that they designed a high style row for William S. Kimball, and is by association thought to be the firm that did many other projects for Kimball. In addition, operations for the Drexel Company have been attributed to them, along with a number of church buildings, and at least one single family residence in West Philadelphia.
    More can be learned about on the G.W. & W.D. Hewitt page at the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project.
  • Hodgens and Hill 
    Architects. Chatman Court (49th and Locust in Garden Court district), in 1930 .
  • Hoffman-Henon 
    Architects. Movie Theater at 52nd Street (demolished) .
  • Samuel K. Hopkins 
    House carpenter and builder of the Clark house, Chestnutwold.
  • Samuel Huckel, Jr. (1858-1917) 
    An architect who trained under Prof. Kearn and Benjamin D. Price, architect. Worked in partnership with Hazelhurst (see Hazehurst and Huckel).
  • Samuel Hutchinson 
    A Conveyancer, real estate agent and later broker in the area of Mantua Village, although now might be considered the border of Powelton. In 1850 his office was on Bridge St. (now Spring Garden St) and he lived on Haverford and 34th. Later his office moved to Lancaster near 35th Street, but in 1865 the City Directory indicates he was working downtown.
  • Ferdinand P. Hurxthal 
    According the national register nomination form for Spruce hill, he is some sort of "Developer" involved in 509-25 S. 42nd around 1871.


  • William Jenks 
    Primarily a merchant who also invested or speculated in land. A William P. Jenks is in City directories from 1850-1865 as a Merchant living and working downtown. In 1865 he was President of Buck Mountain Coal Co. A possible son, William H. Jenks, was described a commission merchant at Randolph & Jenks, 238 Chestnut St. and became a Director of the; Girard Trust Company, Franklin National Bank, Philadelphia Savings Fund, two railroad companies and a mortar Co.
    In 1870 Jenks sold land he had obtained from Robert Lindsey on the south side of Kingsessing Ave (now 4200 block of Chester Ave). Thomas Clark re-divided the property into smaller lots and constructed eight brownstone-faced twins (16 houses).
  • John D. Jones
    A carpenter who becomes a builder involved in operations around 42nd St. He appears to have started on the western edge of downtown and later expanded across the Schuylkill. An 1860 City Directory places his home near 33rd and Arch Streets and his business near 21st and Chestnut Streets.
    He also has been described as an architect-builder, but the attribution has not yet been verified. His name has been associated with the brownstone twins on the side of the 4100 block of Locust, a large house for William Montelius in 1864, on the corner of the same block, and houses on the east side of the 200 block of South 42nd Street (1863-1865).
  • R. G. Kennedy
    Architect. Residence at 4721 Chester Avenue, 1895, for Charles Buzby and Chapel of the Fourth Presbyterian Church (now Crusaders for Christ Church, 1201-1209 S. 47th Street), 1891 .
  • William S. Kimball
    Kimball describes himself a ‘Real Estate man’, but also was Pres. of Equitable Brick Manufacturing Co. Limited, and Director of Susquehanna Iron & Steel Co. 
    The name W.S. Kimball and Katie Kimball (his wife) appear on many land transactions and building operations. Evidence suggests he worked closely with Clarence Clark starting in the 1870s. These operations included St. Marks Square, 4201-25 Pine, Regent Square, 42nd Street from Spruce to Pine and Osage to Baltimore, to name a few. A color illustration of houses on Spruce Street appeared in the Scientific American Builders edition in 1891 (and reprinted in American Victoriana). The "Kimball Block" on 42nd Street was featured in an advertisement for the Mortar Stain Company.
    Kimball's real estate office was at 41rst and Chestnut and he lived just south of Clark's Chestnutwold. It appears his father Fredrick was one of Clarence Clark's banking associates at E.W.Clark & Co. and that William was possibly an in-law of the Clark family. The Spruce Street row of houses was designed by the Hewitt brothers, and by association it is believed Frank Furness may have been an architect on other of Kimball's operations.
  • G. Kinsley 
    Architect. Atlas Storage Warehouse building designed c. 1924, 4013 Walnut Street.


  • Charles M. S. Leslie
    A convayencer who was orchestrated some of the speculative building operations during and after the Civil War. The best known of these is Woodland Terrace. Samuel Sloan was probably the architect Leslie used. By 1865 Leslie is living in West Philadelphia (Baltimore Ave near 39th) but continues to maintained a business office downtown (112 S. 4th St) C. M. S. Leslie & Co., Conveyancers and Real Estate.
  • I. Levin
    An architect who worked for Clarence Siegel. Designed the houses from 4605-31 Larchwood Ave in 1920.
  • Daniel Lindsay 
    240-260 S. 44th Street, c. 1892. Architect or developer?
  • Robert Lindsay
    Lindsey's role is not clear. He acquired land along the south side of the 4200 block of Chester Avenue and built a set of twins and smaller twin on 42nd Street. However, the only Robert Lindsey in the City Directories was a publisher. It's possible that Lindsay was providing capital in the form a purchase. He would get ground rent and then sell back the property to Thomas Clark when the work was done.
  • Nathan Litman
    Architect for Royal Chester Court, 4601-4603 Chester Avenue, 1927.


  • Jacob Mayland
    Jacob Mayland was the master of a set of industrial centers on Mill Creek. Evidence indicates he owned mills in the areas of today's Sansom Street and 44th, as well as the houses and mills along Woodland Avenue. This second group was the core of Maylandville. In addition, he owned a large ice house, which may have stored ice cut from the Schuylkill River or the mill pond (now the center of Clark Park). Mayland apparently had a mansion nearby that may have been used for other purposes later on. A newspaper clipping indicates it was town down. Mayland was dead by 1851 when at least some of his property went to Jason S. Fenimore.
  • McArthur, John (1823-1890)
    Architect of Philadelphia City Hall and because of that strongly associated with the monumental "Second Empire" revival of the 1860s. However, he also did residential work including his own houses in West Philadelphia. One was a 3 story stone mansion on North side of 4200 Walnut 1863, which may have been for himself. Another was featured in the Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition, and clearly demonstrates that McArthur remained in the mainstream of architectural currents.
    The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project has a good page on John McArthur's career.
  • F. H. McCann
    Entered conveyancing in 1860. Opened office in 1864, 609 N. 39th, was successful in acquiring a loyal following. Around 1888 he moved to 3811 Lancaster Ave. In 1891, it was written that he conducts all business like other “firms in the line-purchasing and selling houses, lands, negotiating mortgages, rents and other collecting, conveyancing, fire insurance...”.
  • Hugh McIlvain 
  • Lumber merchant who bought land from Elizabeth Powell in 1804. Hugh passed away in 1832 but his family was heavily involved in West Philadelphia building operations for many decades. They had a lumber yard at 34th and Market from 1852 until 1953 when it was sold to Firestone Tires. Earlier sale of portions of their property went to the Pennsylvania Railroad. One of the McIlvain houses was at 3175 Lancaster Avenue and a later one at 59th and Elmwood.
  • H. McMurtrie
    Architect of the Groh building at 5131-57 Walnut Street, 1928. Richly ornamented terra cotta art deco shop facade.
  • Mellor, Meigs and Howe
    Philadelphia architectural firm who designed the PSFS bank at 52nd Street (1925) as well as the better known main PSFS building.
  • Frederick C. Michaelsen
    Local real-estate developer. Breslyn Apartments (4624-42 Walnut Street, 201-213 South 47th Street), 1913
  • Milligan and Webber
    Partnership known as developers of apartment buildings. Samuel Milligan was pretty clearly the architect and it has been suggested that Frederick Webber may have been his own architect for the Sunderland apartment house, 3427 Powelton, 1915. Webber remained the building owner until 1920.
    Known apartments built by Milligan and Weber include; The Normandie - NE crn 36 & Chestnut, The Tracy - 47 and Baltimore, and Hamilton Court - 3900 Chestnut Street, all about 1901. Subsequent work in the area included a store and stable - 49 & Baltimore, a house at 45 and Walnut, and many other apartment houses on Baltimore and Chester Avenues.
  • John C. Mitchell
    Developer of the three twins 4009-4018 Pine Street. The following entries from City Directories are provided as reference: 
    • 1850 Mitchell John C. att'y and coun., 173 Walnut 
    •  MITCHELL, JOHN C. & PHILIP F. SNYDER, conveyancers, 173 Walnut 
    • 1855 MITCHELL JOHN C. att'y and coun., 4 York Buildings 
    • 1860 Mitchell, John C, att'y and coun. 203 S 6th, h [cut off in printing] 
    • 1865 MITCHELL JOHN C. attorney-at-law, 308 s 5th,, h 41st & Pine
  • John Mitchell
    Merchant and builder? From the City Directory entries given below, it can be seen that John Mitchell is clearly a different person than John C. Mitchell. Whether they are related is not known. While this Mitchell is credited with houses 4008-4010 Pine Street, ca. 1862 most likely they were a part of John C. Mitchell's operations.
    1850 John M. lumber mer. 146 N 2nd & 143 N 3d, h 73 Marchall
  • Thomas Mitchell
    A conveyancer who purchased The Woodlands from Thomas Flemming in 1831. In 1838, George Sidney Fischer wrote that he believed it had been a speculative purchase, and that Mitchell would be cutting it up into town lots. However, shortly after Fischer wrote that, Mitchell proposed to convert the property into a rural cemetery. He sold the property in trust to his son Benjamin who in turn sold it to The Trustees of the Woodland Cemetery Company. The Trustees consist of Thomas Mitchell, Eli Kirk Price, Garrick Mallery, and Samuel Edwards.


  • G. T. Peason
    Architect for Longstreth house, 4109 Walnut St, described in American Architect and Building News. June 22, 1895
  • Richard Peters (1744-1828)
    Land owner who laid out the village of Mantua. Peters was a judge and his own country house, Belmont, still stands in West Fairmount Park. He had interest in a permanent bridge across the Schuylkill and believed it would work hand in hand with the new village he had planned. However, the plots did not sell rapidly, and by 1817, he had added Britton as a partner in the scheme.
  • Elizabeth & Samuel Powell (1739-93)
    Samuel Powell is the Mayor of Philadelphia during the American Revolution. In 1775 Samuel and Elizabeth, his wife, purchased 96 acres north of Market Street (on the West side of the Schuylkill River) from her brother Thomas Willing and her cousin Tench Francis. Samuel Powell dies of Yellow Fever in 1793 at his Schuylkill house, presumably on this property. In 1800, Elizabeth began a new country house called "Powelton". She also adopts her sister's son, John Powel Hare who changes his name to John Hare Powel. He inherits the property in 1807.
    Who the initial architect and builder was is not known. Later alterations to the building have been attributed to Strickland and Thomas Ustick Walter, perhaps in collaboration with John Hare Powell. Although the Samuel's father, Samuel Powell Sr. (1673?-1756) , had been a member of the Carpenter's Company, further research is needed to determine if any of the younger Powels might have been carpenters. Powelton stood near 32nd Street and Race.
  • William Powell (1731?-1824)
    A possible relation to Samuel Powel. He has been described as a carpenter who was one of the early settlers of Blockey. 
    There is also a record of a William, Son of one Thomas Powell, yeoman, who became a member of the Carpenter's Company in 1793. This William was a Treasurer of the Columbia Fire Company (8th and Cherry Streets), so one must wonder if he really settled in Blockley, assuming it was the same William Powell.
  • William Bleddyn Powell (1854-1910)
    This William Powell is credited with designing alterations to the Allison Car Works. The car works later became the site of Drexel University. Powell also made alterations and additions to the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Trolley Barn at 41rst and Haverford, designed the fire station at 4027-31 Haverford Ave (1905) and the Police Station on Woodland near 36th Street (1909).
  • Eli K. Price 
    One of the founding members of The Woodland Cemetery Company. Eli K. Price is best known in Philadelphia for ushering the consolidation of the City and County through the Pennsylvania legislature in the early 1850s. Price was a lawyer with extensive land holdings throughout West Philadelphia. However, evidence suggests that conveyancing was not a significant part of his business, and that he lived and worked downtown. Price was also involved in the development of Fairmount Park. His descendants continued to be leaders in the Woodland Cemetery Company and as advocates for Philadelphia parks in general. In the early 1900s, an Eli K. Price was President of the City Parks Association. In that same era, one of the Price's last remaining undeveloped properties became a part of the Garden Court area. Whether this was by chance, or whether they were involved in the vision is unknown although this later Eli K. was clearly interested in the City Beautiful movement.
  • William Lightfoot Price (1861-1916)
    This Philadelphia born architect apprenticed with A Hutton, and then partnered with his brother Frank who had trained under Frank Furness. By 1888 they were working for Wendell & Smith, developers of suburban homes in Wayne (Radnor Twp) and Overbrook. The goal was to strive for lots of natural light, and open spacious internal spaces that could carry the outside air. Price and Hutton also did promotional graphics for Wendell & Smith. Price worked alone from 1895-1903 when he then partnered with Martin Hawley McLanahan, real estate speculator/investor in 1903. In 1904 Price published Model Homes for Little Moneywhich described both suburban homes and city houses for prospective buyers.
    Price was very strongly influenced by William Morris and the philosophies of the Arts and Craft movement. An example of this can been seen when he wrote that there is nothing worse than to ignore historical precedent except following it by rote. Further, architecture should make a product more beautiful, "more fitting the situation, primarily fitting the man that is to live in it, or the purpose it is to be used." His strong interest in creating better places to live and work (some have called utopian) led to his efforts turn Rose Valley (Delaware County Pennsylvania) into a village based on hand craft shops.
    Two different perspectives on Price can be seen at the National Building Museum's article on The Evolution of William L. Price and the Rose Valley Folk Association's History page.


  • Edwin Rafsnyder
    Carpenter and Builder active from the l850s into the 1860s. Amongst the houses he built in West Philadlephia is the one at 4004-4006 Pine Street, and the one behind it on Baltimore Ave. City directories give his home and business addresses in Center City.
  • Edward Rollins
    Rollins may have been a speculator and financier, and was an associate of Clarence H. Clark. Edward Rollins lived in West Philadelphia and was the first President of Centennial Bank when it opened [1876]. George Hewitt (architect) built 9 residence and 8 stores for him in 1877.
  • Barnet Rubin
    Developer of the Winchester apartments (4804-4806 Chester Avenue).
  • Edwin L. Seeds
    Builder and architect of the Pinehurst Apartments (4511-4523 Pine Street, 324-334 S. 45th St.), 1914.
  • James D. Shaw
    Although some historians have attributed the design of 4008-4018 Pine Street and 403-405 South 41st Street to him, this may not be so. The only James Shaws in City Directories of the 1850s is a James D. Shaw, Plasterer, and a James Shaw, Carpenter. James the carpenter lives all the way over in Kennsington. It is possible a plasterer would become a builder, but unlikely. Usually the builder or architect-builder would have been a master house carpenter, or sometimes a master mason. However, as noted in Seeds of Growth page, it was common practice in the mid 19th century to give temporary or permanent title to tradesmen working on speculative houses. These served as a lien or as a payment. Since several of these houses have been subject of archival research reports, a less speculative answer may require only a little further investigation.
  • Clarence Siegel
    Siegel was a real estate developer who, after WWI, created a beautiful and coherently planned set of projects known collectively as Garden Court. Siegel had previous experience building rows of homes in West Philadelphia, but where he acquired his passion and knowledge for creating Garden Court is not yet known. While the City Beautiful movement was an obvious influence, George Thomas found that Siegel's projects generally predate similar, better known examples. He also found ample evidence that Siegel spent considerable time with architects conducting design investigations. His operations appear to have influenced other developers working on adjacent properties, resulting in a unity of the area beyond Siegel's own operations.
    It is also known that Siegel began to acquire the land holdings for Garden Court from The Drexel Company and Eli K. Price in 1919. It is not known whether the Drexels or the Prices had further involvement with the projects, but it is possible. Siegel employed several architects over the course of these projects including John T. Coneys.
  • W.S.P. Shields
    Described in 1903 as a large real estate operator in West Philadelphia. Shields bought the area along Grays Ferry and Woodland Avenues and had rowhouses erected by Isaac Wood around 1880. In doing so, defensive earthworks from 1814 were demolished (they were erected after the capture of Washington D.C.). A tablet on the house at 4810 Woodland Ave. marked the former earthworks.
  • Grant Simon
    Architect of apartment houses 4801 - 4847 Pine, 1922 .
  • Samuel Sloan (1815-1884)
    An professional architect who began his career as a carpenter and moved rapidly toward directing and designing building projects. As a young carpenter he primarily worked on institutional buildings(Eastern State Penitentiary, Blockley Almshouse, Pennsylvania Hospital's Department for the Insane). This exposed Sloan to some of the few professional architects working in America at the time. When architect Isaac Holden returned to England in 1838, Sloan was made Supervisor of the Works for the Hospital for the Insane. Not surprisingly, his own first major commission was for an institutional building (Chester County Buildings 1849). His big break into residential work came when he convinced Andrew McCalla Eastwick that he was the man to design and build his new mansion, Bartram Hall. Eastwick liked Sloan's ideas, and may have appreciated his brashness, but he insisted that Sloan work with a more experienced builder, John S. Stewart. That worked so well Stewart and Sloan became business partners. In addition, the association with so a high profile residence must have drawn the attention of Harrison and Browne amongst others.
    For his residential work, Sloan may have initially drawn ideas from the work of John Notman, as well as from writings of men like Downing. However his exploration and resolution of building problems was highly influenced by non-architects he associated with. One of Eastwick's business partners, Joseph Harrison, Jr., was very interested in providing better housing for the poorer workman. They built two such rows in 1853, but open cynicism about their motivations ended Harrison's interest. Harrison also helped Sloan with another patron, Dr. Thomas Kirkbride. When Kirkbride became the head of the Insane Department, he tested out how the building effected the insane patients. However, heating a large building and many rooms was a problem using fireplaces or stoves. Harrison stepped in and helped develop a central heating boiler that could do the job. Sloan ended up building over 30 Hospitals for the Insane based on the "Kirkbride System."
    From 1851 to 1857 Sloan built many of the houses in West Philadelphia, particularly in and around the western edges of what had been Hamiltonville. Most but, not all of these were for speculators like Samuel A. Harrison and Nathaniel Browne. At some point, Sloan, like his speculator clients, lived in West Philadelphia in a house he designed. However, he may not have done so until times got leaner, and perhaps not until the late 1860s. In 1857, the economy crashed and with it Sloan's business slowed. Perhaps to make up for this, Sloan began to publish his ideas, with drawings and plans, often of real projects. His books were very successful and sold well nationally.
    After the Civil War, Sloan began to have real difficulties. Sloan's strength had been his ability to work with restrictions; rationally resolve the problems presented by the building program. These included tasks such as placement of utilities, providing light, drainage, circulation and the like no matter what the lot size or other challenges presented. However, his elements and designs drew from standard sources of the previous decade. In contrast, the new generation of architects were learning how to create fully synthesized designs that reflected the internal plan and structure of the building, and visually more creative. They also seemed to recognize a shift toward reform in the social and political climate, which some have described as a sobriety. After barely two years, the AIA withdrew its support for Sloan's magazine The Architectural Review and Builders News and in 1870 it folded. Sloan's books continued to sell, and he got new work investigating and designing school houses, the type of work that seems to have required his type of skills. For more on Sloan, see his page at the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings website.
  • Smith, Harding and Hoffman
    Land owners, possibly a holding company, of property west of 52nd mentioned in Financiers of Philadelphia.
  • Stetler and Deysher
    Architects of several apartment houses in the Garden Court area. . The “Larchwood” at 47th and Larchwood in 1922, The “Larchmont”, 500 South 47th Street, 1924, Sylvania Gardens apartments, 414-24 South 48th Street, 1926, and 4748 Pine Street, 1926.
  • John Stewart
    Builder-Architect who probably carried out the field supervision and operations for Sloan's projects. See Samuel Sloan.
  • William Strickland
    While Strickland is best known as the architect of public buildings in old city, the Blockley Alms house in West Philadelphia was equally well known at the time. Strickland started his career as a carpenter apprenticed to Benjamin Latrobe. After a couple years he decided to become a painter, and then apparently changed his course back again. He won the competition for the design of the Second Bank of the United States, which brought him great attention. Other well known buildings of his still standing in Philadelphia include the Merchants Exchange, and the Naval Home.
  • J.F. Stuckert
    Architect of movie theater at 52nd Street
  • Charles Supplee
    A builder or real estate broker involved with both Clarence Clark and Samuel Sloan in a building operation along Chester Avenue and 42nd Street. This group of twins was built between 1862 and 1865 and occupied the North side of 4200 Chester [then Kingsessing] and the West side of 500 block of South 42nd. Sloan made one of these houses his own home, but by the 1890s, the 42nd Street houses were torn down for newer twins, and later all but one of the Chester Avenue twins were torn down for apartments.
  • Charles Moseley Swain
    Born in 1849, son of the William M. Swain, founder of the Public Ledger. Charles Mosely Swain was a lawyer, although later in life he was known as a financier. He became President of City Trust Co., President of the Electrical Protection Co., and Director of the Merchants' National Bank.
    In 1876, Charles moved to a house he had built on the southwest corner 45th and Spruce. While the primary architect unknown, it is known that Wilson Eyre was hired to do alterations in 1892. A William J. Swain Residence designed by William Decker (1893) was located about 3921 Chestnut St. In 1960, Charles Swain's estate was torn down and made into the University Mews.


  • Frederick G. Thorn
    Architect who worked for the Wilson Brothers. Built his own West Philadelphia residence, 205 North 36th Street, 1883.
  • Horace Trumbauer (1868-1938)
    Architect who began in the offices of G. W. & W.D. Hewitt at age sixteen. He opened his own office in 1890 and received a steady flow of commissions for Main Line and Newport R.I. houses. He was known for using only the best of everything and his work tended toward a conspicuous show of wealth. Trumbauer's commissions also include residences in West Philadelphia including Charles Eisenlohr Mansion, 4200-4214 Pine, 1904, the Otto Eisenlohr House 3812 Walnut, 1912 (now the University of Pennsylvania's president house), and more modest house for Joseph Benton McCall at 4201 Walnut Street.
    In addition to residential work, Trumbauer built several prominent Philadelphia buildings, including The Free Library of Philadelphia (Central branch), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Irvine Auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus. In 1902 Trumbauer hired Julian Abele who had attended both University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
  • Twadells
    The Twadell family owned a large estate along Baltimore Avenue in the 19th century land in what is the Cedar Park neighborhood. They do not appear to be involved in any sort of development operations. The mansion house stood near 51st and Baltimore Avenue. Most of the estate was not developed until late, some of it becoming a portion of the Garden Court area. James Twadell is listed as a gentleman living in West Philadelphia in the 1850s (Oak near Moore, later Darby Rd near Locust). In 1860, a James living at the same address is listed as owning a floor mill at 2136 Market Street. This may be a son. By the turn of the century, the property is in the hands of George W and L.H. Twaddell.


  • William Warner
    Warner, an Englishman, purchased a vast estate stretching from the west bank of the Schuylkill to beyond 48th Street. Warner named it “Blockley” after his home in England, giving the future name to much of the region.
  • Evert J. Wendell and Smith
    Builders who in the mid-nineteenth century developed in the area of the old Powel estate. 
    Herman Wendall cited by 92,21
  • Alexander Wilson, Jr.
    "Developer and builder" of 4201 Chester Ave c. 1909
  • Isaac Wood
    Builder who did work for W.S.P. Shields around 1880.
  • A. Lynn Walker
    Architect of the Stonehurst Apartments, 419-425 S. 45th Street, circa 1900.
  • T. Rooney Williamson 
    Architect of 3809 Locust Street for the Drexels.1884.
  • E. Allen Wilson
    One of the principal architects of the rows of houses that went up just beyond the older developments in the early twentieth century. These include the 4900 block of Walnut street, 1911, 4720-40 Pine, and 4901-4927 Pine Street, 1921.
  • Wilson Brothers
    Joseph and John Wilson were civil engineers who got established in architecture by successfully constructing the main exhibition halls for the Centennial exposition in a relatively tight time frame. They are best known for their large architectural and engineering projects, such as the Reading Terminal and the Broad Street Station, but they built a wide variety of other types of buildings as well. Amongst their work in West Philadelphia is the Drexel Institute (Drexel Univ.), a house for the Drexels.
  • John T. Windrim
    Architect of the University of Pennsylvania Dental School.
  • Woolworth 
    Architect for movie theater at 52nd Street (demolished) .
  • Clarence Wunder
    Architect for 4800-4840 Pine. Apartment house, 1922.
  • Zantzinger, Borie and Medary
    Architects for chapel and campus of the Divinity School, 1922-1926, northwest corner of 42nd and Spruce Street. 

Exhibit by Matthew Grubel, 2008