Profile of Queen Village in Philadelphia
and real estate advertisements

from the

Philadelphia Bulletin
June 19, 1966


I bought an old real estate section of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for pennies at a library book sale, mainly for the profile of the city's Queen Village neighborhood (see full text below thumbnails). But I found the real estate advertisements equally interesting. The prices, for new homes and rentals, will never be seen again, barring another Depression. But aside from inflation, the ads are sadly similar to those for the developments still going up in municipalities around the city, as we continue to transform the region's woodland and farmland into tract housing sites with names like Barclay Farm and Rolling Green Estates.

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The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
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For text of this article, see below.

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Up the Street, Down the Street, There'll Be a Fresh, New Look:
Old Loyalties Spur Queen Village Renewal Drive

Real Estate Editor

One of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods, a section of old Southwark renamed Queen Village, is undergoing a renewal under private auspices. The area from the Delaware River to 6th st. and from Bainbridge st. to Wharton st. is one that throbs with activity, as it has for more than 200 years in which it has been the first home in America of thousands of Philadelphia families.

Port of Entry

Some residents can remember when ships loaded with immigrants from Europe docked at the foot of Washington av., which was the port of entry of many thousands into the U. S., comparable to Ellis Island in New York. The loyalties of many residents to this old section, plus a strong group of about 30 neighborhood institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, playgrounds and libraries, provide the framework on which the new Queen Village is being built.

This is not a clearing and rebuilding operation and not an attempt at restoration as in neighboring Society Hill, just to the north, but an upgrading of existing housing through rehabilitation by private owners and corporations.

The maritime tradition of the old section continues today and freighters can be seen passing up and down the Delaware, or docked at piers. This is a tradition that dates back to Swedish settlers who founded Gloria Dei (Old Swedes' Church) at Swanson St., below Front, and Christian st. One of the incorporators of Queen Village, Inc., Old Swedes is the oldest church in Pennsylvania, with a congregation formed in 1642. The first religious services were held in a blockhouse on the site of the church in 1669. The present church was completed in 1700.

Several streets in the area, Catharine, Christian and Queen sts., were named for Catharine, Queen of Sweden, and when the idea of rehabilitating the area took form four years ago, the name "Queen Village, Inc.," was chosen for the corporation. Drayton S. Bryant, Philadelphia housing consultant and planner, has been consultant to the group since its inception.

Individuals, institutions and business firms have contributed or invested in the corporation or purchased its five-year notes, which are being used to reach a goal of $100,000 to match a $100,000 demonstration grant of the Federal Government.

The Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church of America recently made a $5,000 investment in the corporation, and pledged an additional $5,000 at a later date. The money is used for the purchase of residential properties for rehabilitation and resale or rental.

Meyer D. Madway is chief of operations of the corporation, which has offices at 803 S. 2d st. Madway returned to the neighborhood of his birth through his interest in the Settlement Music School, 416 Queen st., where he has been director of maintenance. Many members of the Philadelphia Orchestra have been pupils of the school.

So far the corporation has acquired 30 houses of which three have been rebuilt and sold to new owners. Seven are in the process of rehabilitation, and two of these have been sold. Plans for the renewal of others are being prepared with the cooperation of consulting architect Nick Chimes.

Twenty-two of the houses acquired by the corporation have been historically certified, Madway said, and date to the early 19th Century or earlier. Sales prices so far have ranged from $10,750 to $20,400, a range which is expected to attract new residents to the area as well as provide improved housing for present residents.

One-family dwellings comprise 75 percent of all units in the area, and more than 1,300 units, 43 percent of all in the area, are owner-occupied. Relocation of several hundred families in the area will be required under the present routing of the Delaware Expressway.

Institutions of the area are each developing their own program for improved ser-
vices, the corporation noted, and a community organization program is underway through special foundation grants in use by the United Neighbors, a long-established United Fund settlement agency.

Another plus factor, the corporation noted, has been the substantial and stable racial integration of the area, in which about two-thirds of the residents are white and one-third Negro.

Some of the houses in Queen Village have been privately rebuilt by individual purchasers, who have noted they can buy a shell house, in need of virtual rebuilding for much less than in nearby Society Hill.

Among new residents attracted to the area, Madway reported, have been at least seven artists who have located in the general area of 2d and Catherine sts. Two architects, an antiquarian, a composer and musicians are also residents of the area, he said.

In an instance of close cooperation with private capital, Madway is working with the Philadelphia home building firm of Becker, Lipschutz & Prusan in rebuilding four adjoining houses on Catharine st. The corporation owns 421 and 425 Catharine and the developers own 423-427.

Stanton Lipschutz, of the development firm, became interested in the renewal of Queen Village through realtor Jacob Hoffman. Lipschutz, a past president of the Home Builders Association of Philadelphia & Suburban Counties, has a background in renewal work that goes back to his student days in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, when he wrote a thesis on the economics of residential rehabilitation.

Worked With Stern

The thesis won him a job with the late Oscar Stern, Philadelphia realtor and appraiser, and started him in the real estate and building business. Lipschutz purchased the two old dwellings and has nearly completed extensive rehabilitation of them, including installation of all new plumbing, heating, roofing, new kitchen and bath, plus a studio room on the third floor.

The houses have a curved brick wall at the rear of the living room, which was a common feature in many homes built In the area about 125 years ago.

Unusual Potential

New interior partitions and new dry wall panels are installed throughout the houses, which are being prepared for installation of air conditioning, if desired. Each has a fireplace in the living room.

Realtor Hoffman said that he believes Queen Village has a unique potential. The fabrics center, comprising two blocks of stores on 4th st. which handle all
types of materials for draperies and decorating, is another feature of the area, he noted.

Hoffman said he would like to see the Theater of the Living Arts, 334 South st,, relocated in Queen Village when it is removed for the planned Crosstown Expressway.

Hoffman said the area could be developed with fine shops on 2d st., and a street featuring restaurants. Stores for the sale of antiques and art galleries would also fit well into the renewed Queen Village, Hoffman said.

LADDERS UP: Workmen go over four houses at 421-27 Catharine st. as part of the Queen Village rehabilitation program.
RIDERS TO THE SEA: Boys on bicycles go rolling down to where the ships are berthed in the Delaware River at the foot of Queen Village's Catharine st.
COMPLETELY REHABILITATED by the non-profit firm of Queen Village, Inc., the two houses at right, 214-16 Carpenter st., now have new owners. The house at left is undergoing renewal.


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