PlanPhilly

Look Up! Contemporary neighbors in Society Hill

    • Looking east on the 100 block of Delancey Street.
      Looking east on the 100 block of Delancey Street.
    • Well-restored 18th and 19th century houses populate most of the Society Hill neighborhood.
      Well-restored 18th and 19th century houses populate most of the Society Hill neighborhood.
    • The Zebooker House, 110-12 Delancey, takes up two lots but stays within scale of the historic block.
      The Zebooker House, 110-12 Delancey, takes up two lots but stays within scale of the historic block.
    • The door to the Zebooker House is a 20th century take on the 19th century entrance.
      The door to the Zebooker House is a 20th century take on the 19th century entrance.
    • The door next door to the Zebooker House.
      The door next door to the Zebooker House.
    • The Franklin Roberts House, 230 Delancey, is a more somber deconstruction of the Colonial style.
      The Franklin Roberts House, 230 Delancey, is a more somber deconstruction of the Colonial style.
    • The stark entrance to the Roberts House.
      The stark entrance to the Roberts House.
    • The ornate entrance to a neighboring home.
      The ornate entrance to a neighboring home.
    • Other architects have offered more literal translations of the Society Hill look in their new construction.
      Other architects have offered more literal translations of the Society Hill look in their new construction.
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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.

The rebirth of Society Hill in the 1960s involved the careful restoration of block after block of 18th and 19th century houses. Not all were salvageable, however, and demolition left gaping holes in the neighborhood. It also offered opportunities for creative approaches to new construction within the historic environment.

Mitchell/Giurgola Associates, the Philadelphia-based firm that sees architecture as a historical progression and seeks to fit structures into their context, built two houses along Delancey Street in Society Hill in the late 1960s.

The Zebooker House, 110-12 Delancey, uses a brick façade that complements the homes around it, but has fewer and well-spaced windows and first-floor recesses that make a modern statement. 

The Franklin Roberts House, 230 Delancey, built by Mitchell/Giurgola with Roy Vollmer in 1969, offers a stronger contrast to its neighbors. The brick is darker, the entrance deep-set, and the windows higher and assymetrical.

Both houses are interesting descendants of the Colonial style. They have singular mid-century identities, but stay within the scale and context of the street and make excellent younger neighbors.


"Look Up" Imaginative Eyre on Locust Street

"Look Up!" Elfreth's Alley has issues

"Look Up" Architectural exercises on Boathouse Row

"Look Up!" John Notman's brownstone temples

"Look Up!" 19th Century luxe on Locust St.

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

"Look Up!" Rural retreats in Northeast Philly

"Look Up!" Modernist lines on Haverford Ave.

"Look Up!" Chestnut Hill's modernist gems


Contact the writer at



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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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