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.
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Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire
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