University City Historical Society

Haddington Historic District

Bounded by 6000 Blocks of Market, Ludlow, and Chestnut Streets

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places September 29, 1988

The Haddington District is bounded by Market and Chestnut Streets on the north and south respectively, and by 60th and 61st Streets on the east and west. At 60th Street is one of the stops or the Market-Frankford Elevated Line, near an industrial village which had been known for much of the nineteenth century as Haddington. Thus, the community at the elevated was in fact a new creation, one which merely adapted an historic name to give identity. This was possible because the district was largely owned by one individual who developed it according to a functional logic, with the commercial buildings near the station, and the more residential buildings, particularly several large apartment houses at the opposite corner. Below Ludlow, Smith built row houses and large doubles on Chestnut Street, completing the residential variety of his development. Because the district was mainly developed in a very short time, between 1909 and 1915, with the first round of commercial modifications in the 1920s, it is unusually unified in style, material and scale, consisting of two and three story masonry buildings, mainly reflecting the then popular colonial and classical revival styles. As a district it is essentially intact, containing more than 95% of the contributing buildings which existed in 1927 with 82 of the 85 buildings contributing to the district.

The district is organized into two blocks. The principal block contains the commercial buildings at the north east corner closer to the elevated station, service buildings on the smaller Ludlow Street to the rear, and larger apartment houses at the south west corner. The block below Ludlow, on the other hand is almost entirely residential, with only a commercial row continuing along 60th Street on the pedestrian route to and from the El. Such organization made it possible to provide the commercial properties with the maximum traffic, while protecting the residential buildings from the noise and congestion. This then also accounts for the location of the Haddington Title and Trust Co. and the F. W. Woolworth and Co. 5 and 10 Cent Store near the 60th and Market corner , with the other major commercial buildings, giving that corner the characteristic classical vocabulary, lighter palette of limestone and terra cotta, and bolder graphics of main street commerce. Conversely, at the opposite end of the block, buildings increasingly share the typical Philadelphia domestic palette of red brick, trimmed out with detail based on historical styles. The buildings that front onto Ludlow Street, are by contrast plain, generally reflecting service roles as garages, and less prestigious housing.

Though the buildings in the district would draw little attention in the downtown, several were clearly intended to make a public statement. Of these, the most notable is the Haddington Title and Trust (1911) at 6014-16 Market. Facing the elevated, with granite base and terra cotta facade simulating dressed limestone, this was the building that was intended to stimulate a feeling of security and confidence. Massive Tuscan columns in antis, carrying a full entablature and pediment recall the formula of the Grecian treasury in the fashion of city banks of the era, while its name cut in large letters (since removed when the building was converted into an Armenian and now a Baptist Church) — the first to carry the Haddington name.

At the corner at 60th Street, is a pleasant mixed commercial-residential block constructed of the tan brick and pressed metal that typified the turn of the century. In an age which liked variety, the two story bays of the residential portion on the south half are polygonal while those of the north half are rectangular. Less architecturally grand, but equally direct is the Woolworths on 60th Street with its 1920s enameled steel skin and its trademark red sign with gold lettering.

Smith reiterated the Haddington name in pressed metal across the entrance to his first apartment house at the north-west corner of the block. It is in fact the continuation of the handsome colonial revival shopfront row of buildings that occupy nearly two thirds of Market Street, from 6022-56. Flemish bond brickwork, with strongly marked red and black bricks, on the second floor and diaper work on the third story gives color, while the strongly formed galvanized metal bays with fan lighted sash and modillioned pediments establish the colonial revival. But when the corner was turned onto 61st Street, the shop fronts were replaced, and the same vocabulary was used for an apartment house. The last of the major Smith projects is the Von Louhr Apartment house which stands at the south west corner of the block. Though sharing the same general palette of materials-brick, terra cotta and pressed metal, it found a more up to date California Mission style with its deep overhanging tile hung cornice carried on long brackets. With its projecting pressed metal bays simulating cut stone articulating the front, the Von Louhr has a larger, urban scale that contrasts with the small rowhouses and double houses to the south.

The other block of the district consists of a commercial strip along 60th Street, while the remainder contains 43 houses which E. Allen Wilson designed for Smith, on the block where Smith had made his home. That house was demolished and in its place, 21 row houses were fit into three north south rows, and six large doubles were constructed along Chestnut, befitting their greater cost. The property on Chestnut Street, immediately adjacent to the 60th Street strip however, was developed as row houses-presumably as a transition between the larger doubles and the retail strip.

Statement of Significance

The Haddington Historic District consists of the commercial and residential buildings of two blocks that constitute the core of one of the eight subcenters of the sea of houses which developed near the stations of the Market Street Elevated transit lines simultaneously with its construction in 1903–7. That transit system, which linked the western border of the city with the downtown was, with the later Roosevelt Boulevard highway into the north-eastern part of the city, one of the two major focii of Philadelphia's growth in the twentieth century. At each of the stations, small shopping districts developed along Market Street and the intersecting north-south street with progressively lower density housing further from the Elevated line. The Haddington District is typical of the transit-related development and survives with a higher degree of integrity than any other along the Market Street line. Unlike the other station neighborhoods, Haddington was largely the creation of a single developer, investor, William Smith, who acquired the entire square between Market and Chestnut Streets, subdivided it, established a bank to fund the development and commissioned over three quarters of the buildings-from the principal architect of the western expansion of the city: E. A. Wilson (active c. 1895–1936).

When the Market Street Elevated line was begun in 1903, West Philadelphia had not developed beyond the limits of the horsecar lines of the Civil War era. A line of brown brick double houses runs south from Market Street, between 44th and 46th Streets, marking the end of late nineteenth century construction.(1) Here and there where significant cross streets intersected Market were small clusters of houses, the most notable being the group at 52nd Street, while two early industrial villages, north and south of Market Street were focussed on the water power of Cobbs Creek. Of these, the smaller, but earlier village centered round 62nd above Arch was named Haddington. Formed as early as 1816, Haddington never had more than a dozen houses and a coach-stop inn, the "Whitesides."(2) Joined by north-south streets to Market Street, these preexisting villages were probably the cause of the location of several of the elevated stations.

The remainder of West Philadelphia remained uninhabited, broken only by a few brick yards and plant nurseries. With the beginning of the new Elevated project however, West Philadelphia land became a major focus of speculation, and by 1903 buildings were being announced at the various station sites.(3) The development character is evident on the early atlases of the period, with commercial buildings on the high traffic locations near the Elevated line, and housing further away establishing the model on which the Haddington District was based. Proximity to stations was advertised, and thousands of houses were constructed. In the first generation of this century half of the new housing units in the entire city were contacted within six blocks of a Market Street Elevated station.(4)

Most of the square between 60th and 61st Streets, bounded on the north and south by Market and Chestnut Streets had been acquired in the 1890s by William C. Smith, a banker and investor, who was listed as living at 6049 Chestnut Street.(5) He began developing his property in the 1890, with greenhouses and a nursery, that served a florist shop on Market Street. But, Smith had greater expectations, for with the completion of the Elevated, he obtained a charter for a bank, which he named the Haddington Title and Trust Co.(6) Designed by E. A. Wilson in 1910, its handsome classical front remains one of the significant landmarks on Market Street.(7) With it as a source of capital, Smith was able to provide mortgages for the row houses which he erected between Chestnut Street and Ludlow in 1909–10, and for his simultaneous projects along Market Street. The chief work is a three story shop front row of 18 buildings, sharing a palette of colonial revival pressed metal cornices and bays on a red and black brick Flemish bond wall. This continues around the corner onto 61st Street, here the entire group was given the name "The Haddington." These were also designed from plans of E. A. Wilson, and constructed is 1911.(8) Together with the apartment houses on 61st Street and the row houses and doubles to the south, all of which were designed by the same architect for the same client, they convey the character of middle class design, that unifies this entire district with references to historically revived styles. This was characteristic of contemporary design and was undoubtedly part of the marketing of the community; similar styling was incorporated into other late Philadelphia developments such as Garden Court.

Presumably, it was Smith who emphasized the Haddington name, to establish identity that differentiated his developent from the other two hundred blocks of elevated generated housing which surrounded his project. In this he was successful for no other Philadelphia station has its own name.

The planning of the community is of importance for it demonstrated the effectiveness of a consistent, organizing vision that was an exaggeration of the pattern of other multi-owner subway developments. The shift from purely commercial buildings at the immediate corner of 60th Street to mixed commercial and residential on Market to purely residential on 61st Street, and from apartments near Ludlow to large double houses along Chestnut Street suggest that Smith perceived a logical functional hierarchy within his holdings. By placing the apartment houses on the farthest corner of the commercial block, and the larger, lawn fronted houses on Chestnut Street the residents were sheltered from the noise and traffic of the commercial area. Observation of the other subway stops shows similar patterns. After World War I, developers such as Clarence Siegel used a similar hierarchy in his Garden Court automobile based suburb.(9) The original organization has continued to serve the community well; later commercial development has continued along 60th Street with a few additional houses being converted to commercial use.

There are certainly other areas of West Philadelphia, which represent the impact of the subway-elevated—but no other area can be shown to have been so logically developed—and to have survived so completely. Each contained all of the principal components of the Elevated development: the commercial strip, service buildings, and the complete range of housing from large doubles to rows to apartments to flats above shops. In its form, the twentieth century Elevated development contrasts with the Victorian neighborhoods east of 46th Street which were crisscrossed with trolley lines, and therefore had fewer distinct centers. West of 46th Street, where land had remained open until the construction of the Elevated, land use was more directly related to the economics of traffic. Thus, at 52nd, 56th, 60th and 63rd, each station stop by 1927 had at least one religious building, a row of shops along Market Street, a commercial garage, and usually one or more banks as well as several small workplaces in the vicinity of the station, with housing spreading out until it joined the edges of the next center.

The 52nd Street retail strip is the largest of the group—but it's arrangement followed the normal pattern; 56th Street, because of its proximity to 52nd Street was smaller though similar in form. But 60th Street, eight blocks from 52nd Street, was far enough to require all of the services of a neighborhood, never grew to be as large as the other subway stops; 63rd Street because of its proximity to larger retail centers at 69th Street. Of the eight regional centers which developed around the Elevated stations, three (32nd Street, 36th Street, and 40th Street) have been displaced by institutional growth of Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University City Science Center, destroying in the process their original character. Those eastern stations have further been altered by the reconstruction of the Elevated line as a subway west as far as 46th Street. The 46th and the 56th Street shopping centers have each lost the bulk of their commercial buildings during the past generation as automobiles and the suburban and downtown all have gained customers at their expense. More recently, 52nd Street was decorated with a modern steel and glass canopy concealing the lower shop fronts and drastically changing its character.

Thus, the center around 60th Street is unique in maintaining its original distinctive architectural character, forming the most consistent example of the work of E. A. Wilson, who was the architect responsible for much of the building in West Philadelphia. The vast majority of the original buildings remain without modern intrusive canopies and similar anti-historical alterations. As the best preserved example of the development along the Elevated line, which in turn was one of the major events in the growth of Philadelphia, and as an important neighborhood subcenter which has maintained its commercial vitality and represents the character of that early twentieth century expansion, the Haddington District deserves to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This National Register Nomination was prepared by George E. Thomas.


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