PlanPhilly

Look Up! 19th Century Luxe Life on Locust Street

    • An elegant limestone mansion on the north side of Locust was designed by Horace Trumbauer.
      An elegant limestone mansion on the north side of Locust was designed by Horace Trumbauer.
    • The top of the Trumbauer-designed home on Locust.
      The top of the Trumbauer-designed home on Locust.
    • These Georgian Revival twins were built by Cope & Stewardson.
      These Georgian Revival twins were built by Cope & Stewardson.
    • Detail of a Cope & Stewardson house on Locust Street.
      Detail of a Cope & Stewardson house on Locust Street.
    • The medieval style mansion at 17th and Locust was designed by Frank Miles Day.
      The medieval style mansion at 17th and Locust was designed by Frank Miles Day.
    • Several Italian Renaissance Revival brownstones on the south side of the block are attributed to John Notman.
      Several Italian Renaissance Revival brownstones on the south side of the block are attributed to John Notman.
    • A home converted to law offices at 1620 Locust.
      A home converted to law offices at 1620 Locust.
    • The entrance to 1622 Locust.
      The entrance to 1622 Locust.
    • Wilson Eyre added rich ornament to the brownstone at 1618 Locust.
      Wilson Eyre added rich ornament to the brownstone at 1618 Locust.
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“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.

Now a busy pedestrian corridor for commuters, clients and diners, the 1600 block of Locust Street was home to some of the city’s most affluent citizens in the mid to late 1900s. And the region’s preeminent architects designed the mansions along the once residential street.

The firm of Horace Trumbauer is most often linked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but Trumbauer was best known in his time for the Gilded Age houses he designed, including the castle-like Grey Towers on what is now the Arcadia College campus and the mansions for the Elkins and Wideners families in Montgomery County. At 1629 Locust, he built the elegant Beaux Arts building of white limestone. 

Next door, at 1631 and 1633 Locust, the Georgian Revival twins were designed by Walter Cope and John Stewardson, who defined Collegiate Gothic, and other styles, on the campuses of Bryn Mawr, Penn and Princeton. On the corner of Locust and 17th Streets is the medieval-style mansion by Frank Miles Day, whose name is also associated with college architecture, including buildings at Penn State, Cornell, Yale, Wellesley, and the University of Delaware.

On the south side of the 1600 block are several houses – 1604, 1620 and 1622 -- attributed to one of Philadelphia’s finest 19th century architects, John Notman, who designed the Athenaeum and St. Mark’s Church at 1625 Locust.  Much of the block is currently under construction for the expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music. But the work will preserve the façade of the unique brownstone at 1618, which features beautiful sculptural ornament by architect Wilson Eyre. 

"Look Up!: 20th Century evolution in East Falls

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"Look Up!" Modernist lines on Haverford Ave.

"Look Up!" Chestnut Hill's modernist gems


Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.



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About the author

Alan Jaffe, Contributor

Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”

ajaffe@planphilly.com



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