You are here

Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire

-A A +A
1835, Thomas Ustick Walter; 1866 mansard, Collins and Autenrieth. 212 S. 4th St.

The generous marble portico and rich Greek Revival detail are the principal cues that this is a commercial building and not a large early-nineteenth-century house. The mansard above the cornice added by Collins and Autenrieth significantly alters the clarity of Walter's cubic design. Founded by Benjamin Franklin (of course), the Contributionship was the first insurance company of the city and is known by its symbol of the interlaced hands in the “fireman's carry” that has given it the nickname of the “hand-in-hand.” Here, the insignia are carved in marble on the blocks of the stone that terminate the cornice. Fire marks, cast in metal and affixed to the front of a house, indicated that it was insured and that the fire company should extinguish the fire and apply to the insurance company for restitution. In the absence of insurance, the firemen would negotiate for a fee first—while the house burned.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 69-69.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,