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Portico Square

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1831, Thomas Ustick Walter. 900 block of Spruce St.
  • (© George E. Thomas)

This splendid row of houses with projecting marble porticos was known as Portico Square (Philadelphians called city blocks “squares” in the London fashion). The houses have the distinction of marking Walter's transition from his initial career as builder to architect-builder while simultaneously providing evidence of the increasing wealth of the city. Even when the elite neighborhoods crossed Broad Street, the row remained fashionable. Sarah Josepha Hale, the Martha Stewart of her day as editor of Godey's Lady's Book, lived in number 922 between 1859 and 1861. Other blocks of similar character include the 900 and 1000 blocks of Clinton Street, which like Portico Square were constructed after 1829 when the Philadelphia Almshouse was removed across the Schuylkill to its new William Strickland–designed home (demolished mid-twentieth century). The 900 block of Clinton Street was the home of Louis Kahn during the last years of his illustrious career. The neighborhood attracted a new generation of churches, many of which were in the fashionable Greek Revival taste.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Portico Square", [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, 76-76.

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