April 20, 2010
By Alan Jaffe
“Look Up” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. Each week, the photo essay will focus on a different Philadelphia area neighborhood and its distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.
Spruce Hill, a sprawling neighborhood bounded by Market Street and Woodland Avenue, from 40th to 49th Streets, contains a wealth of great historic and architectural sites. The crowning jewels are probably the row homes at 4206-18 Spruce St., what Preservation Alliance executive director John Gallery calls “the most distinguished block of late 19th-century houses in the city” in his book, Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City.
Brothers George Watson Hewittt and William Dempster Hewitt designed the group of Queen Anne houses in 1886 as a unified whole marked by dramatic gables, a bold color scheme, and mixed materials. Elements of the Spruce Street homes also recall the work of George Hewitt’s one-time partner, Frank Furness.
The Hewitts designed mansions in Chestnut Hill, Wynnewood and Villanova, but their specialties were churches, hotels, hospitals and other institutions. Their portfolio included the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia Bourse, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Hahnemann Hospital and Hahnemann Medical College.