PlanPhilly

Look Up! Rittenhouse Square's stable row

    • A short trot from the park, the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Square was stable row in the late 1800s.
      A short trot from the park, the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Square was stable row in the late 1800s.
    • The beautiful former stable and carriage house at 2023-2025 Rittenhouse is now a garage.
      The beautiful former stable and carriage house at 2023-2025 Rittenhouse is now a garage.
    • Horizontal bands of decorative brickwork and floral panels adorn the facade of 2023-2025 Rittenhouse.
      Horizontal bands of decorative brickwork and floral panels adorn the facade of 2023-2025 Rittenhouse.
    • The coachman's entrance at 2023-2025 Rittenhouse.
      The coachman's entrance at 2023-2025 Rittenhouse.
    • The building at 2049 began as a carriage house and became a storefront.
      The building at 2049 began as a carriage house and became a storefront.
    • The stable at 2026 has kept its original character and purpose.
      The stable at 2026 has kept its original character and purpose.
    • Former stables on the south side of Rittenhouse have been redeveloped as handsome homes.
      Former stables on the south side of Rittenhouse have been redeveloped as handsome homes.
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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.

Rittenhouse Square has been a prestigious address for the city’s prosperous citizens since the mid-1800s. In the latter part of the 19th century, the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Square was the address for their equine transport.  Some of the horse stables have survived over a century of change, and some now shelter the horseless carriages of the neighborhood’s affluent residents.

The stallion among the remaining stables is 2023-2025 Rittenhouse. A beautifully rendered, terra cotta horse’s head pokes out from the arch above the second-story loading doors. The building was erected around 1881 as a three-story brick “messuage,” according to Philadelphia Historical Commission files, and was developed into a stable and coach house in 1884. The PHC files do not list the architect or artist.

Rittenhouse Garage Inc. No. 2, the owner of the building, has been cited in recent years for allowing the stable to deteriorate. The Department of Licenses & Inspections called it unsafe, with loose walls and missing bricks, in December 2010. Last April, complaints were filed with L&I citing “significant and unique brick and brownstone cornice deterioration,” maintenance code violations and demolition by neglect.

The stable at 2049 Rittenhouse was built c. 1870. In the 1920s, the carriage entrance was transformed into French-style storefront as the street became a more fashionable shopping corridor. The second-story loading door and pulley support remain. But the building awaits a 21st century restoration. 

Other buildings in the Rittenhouse stable row have fared better. Another garage, at 2026 Rittenhouse, retains its Arts & Crafts pitched roof and second-story, small-pane glass doors. The former carriage houses at 2036 and 2040 have been transformed into handsome homes, with entrances and other features that retain the character of their original use.

 The 2000 block is part of the Rittenhouse Fitler Residential Historic District designated in 1995.

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Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.



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"Look Up" and check out the nouveau mansions of North Broad

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"Look Up" and check out Henry Disston's company town
"Look Up: and check out Spruce Hill
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"Look Up" and check out West Laurel Hill
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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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