Estate of Wells V. Smith by uuh79059


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									Visual documentation and notes on
the early form of the porches at
3813-15 Walnut Street.

                                Detail of the porches at 3809-11 Walnut,
                                c. 1950s, from fig. 14, below.
Fig. 1. Wm. G. Baist, Atlas of West Philadelphia, 24th and 27th Wards,
1886, detail of plate 22.
The state of the site just prior to development of these attached pairs, with
the location of 3813-15 Walnut indicated by the short vertical line
intersecting the long blue line. In early atlases, indication of wooden
porches seems to have been absent or inconsistent.
Fig. 2. A clipping from Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 April 1889, p. 7.
Plans for development by the Page Brothers is announced. An
error in the reporting or an early phase in the project (or possibly
work proposed for a different corner at this intersection) may
account for the variance between this and what was soon built -
- eight semi-detached houses on Walnut St. and five attached
rowhouses on 38th.
Fig. 3. Geo. W. & Walter S. Bromley, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 24th,
27th and 34th Wards, 1892, detail of plate 3.
Three years after the beginning of construction, at least one property was still
in the hands of the Page family, Louis R. Page. In the 1894 Philadelphia Blue-
Book, “the fashionable private address directory,” 3813 was listed as the
home of Mr. and Mrs. J. Gardiner, Jr., and 3815 was the home of Mr. and Mrs.
John H. Weaver, as shown here two years earlier.
Fig. 4. A clipping from Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 Dec.
1889, p. 7.
Records the sale of 3803 Walnut in November 1889 by J.
F. Page, Jr., to G. P. Kimball.

                                               Fig. 5. A clipping from Philadelphia Inquirer, 5
                                               May. 1890, p. 7.
                                               Records the sale of 3811 Walnut by Page to
                                               Mary A. Rice in April 1890.
Fig. 6. Photo of 1601-35 Diamond Street, HABS PA-1726.
In 1887, the Page Brothers, a real estate firm, had developed this
row at 1601-35 Diamond Street. Their builder was W. D. Huston, a
probable relation (but not father) of Joseph M. Huston (1866-1940),
who had been taken into the Furness office as a young draftsman in
1883. Furness, Evans & Co. were credited with this commission in
the PRER&BG on 18 April 1887. This citation has provided support,
alongside visual affinities, for attribution of 3801-15 Walnut to the
Furness office.
Fig. 7. “Edgeley,” Joseph F. Page, Jr. house, Wells & Hope Co.,
Philadelphia Suburban Homes, c. 1889.
In 1889, the principals of Page Brothers were lawyer Joseph French Page,
Jr. and Louis Rodman Page (1861-1929). This is Joseph’s Chestnut Hill
house, designed by T. P. Chandler in the mid-1880s. Note the circular
glazing in upper sash of the window at lower right. Chandler often
played with such glazing patterns, seen on the upper windows on these
Walnut Street houses. Furness’s work does not appear to show such
elements, but others of 3801-15 Walnut seem more convincingly
Furness’s. (One could lean both ways on this attribution).
Fig. 8. E. V. Smith, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 27th and 46th
Wards,1909, detail of plate 4.
Here one finally sees an indication of the wooden porches, probably a matter
of mapping conventions, for the porches were almost certainly original to
construction. They did mask some façade features rather abruptly, as do
integral porches in nearby rows by contemporaries such as the Hewitt
Brothers and Willis Hale.
Fig. 9. Sale notice for 3815 Walnut, a clipping
from Philadelphia Inquirer, 8 May 1921, p. 9.
Fig. 10. Photo of 3815 Walnut in the 1926 Penn yearbook, when it was the Phi
Beta Delta Fraternity. (Penn Archives).
Advertised as an apartment building in 1921, 3815 was acquired in the early
twenties by the Penn chapter of this fraternity, apparently for Jewish students.
Phi Beta Delta was established at Penn in 1919, but it was initially housed
elsewhere. This image shows that the Victorian porch had already been
replaced by a more classicizing one by the 1920s.
Fig. 11. Print after watercolor by Frank H. Taylor
in 1922 (Free Library of Philadelphia, Prints and
Picture Dept.)
At right is the corner of 3815 Walnut, with its
renovated porch, hipped on its detached side.
Fig. 12. 3815 Walnut, from 1927 Penn yearbook.
By 1927 the Phi Beta Delta fraternity had
commissioned major renovations to 3815, with
clinker brickwork, a ground-story arcade, the
surviving dwarf colonnades on second-story
spandrels, a new flattened, volute-flanked dormer,
and a walled front court.
Fig 13. Photo of
3813-15 Walnut, c.
late 1950s.
(University of
Archives, photograph
collection, buildings
series, street scenes,
Walnut Street, 1882-
1970, and Walnut
Street, n.d. [UPX12,
box 36, folders 13
and 14).
The porch at 3813 ,
probably already
renovated with a
more shallow pitch
than the original, was
glazed in.
Fig 14. Photo of 3809-
11 Walnut,
c. late 1950s
(University of
Pennsylvania Archives).
Here on the
neighboring pair one
sees the original porch,
hipped at the open
corners, and somewhat
steeper than the
reworked porches. The
original porches were
supported by turned
(rather than simply
chamfered) posts.
Those joined thick
plank brackets shaped
by bounding simple
arcs and straight lines
(rather than more
elliptical or sinuous
The scans already acquired by Cicada from page 297 of Frank Furness, the Complete
Works offer a better sense of the original details of the posts and brackets of the porches,
along parts of a metal balustrade that may or may not have been here originally. (For a
closer look, one might consult larger glossies used for FFCW that are, I believe, held by
Penn’s Architectural Archives.) Some of Furness’s coeval designs for railroad stations in
FFCW also offer more of a sense of such wooden elements for porches and shed supports,
from which one might consider design departures for new work that is more abstracted or
contemporary in character.

It’s usually difficult to see within the shadow of the porches in these old photographs, but
it seems very likely, from related 1880s work by Furness and others, including Walnut
Street houses nearby at 39th and 42nd St., that these porches were often open within to
the rafters rather than having a flat ceiling, and that they played, inside, on the visual
interest of exposed elements and their intersections, along with the masonry elements of
the façade blithely traversed and fragmented by the porches.

                                                                            Jeffrey A. Cohen
                                                                               23 May 2009

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