Look Up! French financier built Greek Revival homes in red brick Society Hill

The buildings on Girard Row are exceptional rowhouse designs, with marble facades on the ground floor.

 

“Look Up!” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. The photo essays focus on different Philadelphia areas and their distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

 

Among the early proponents of rowhouse urban architecture was Stephen Girard, the French-born merchant, developer and financier of the War of 1812. Although he died before construction was finished, he invested in the group of houses at 326 to 334 Spruce Street that are among the most handsome homes in the Society Hill area. The Girard Estate funded the completion of  “Girard Row.”

 

They were designed by mason William Struthers and constructed between 1831 and 1837. While the neighboring houses are mainly red brick, or mixed brick combinations, the ground floors of Struthers’ homes have marble facades, the material favored in Greek Revival buildings. The marble row also sits back slightly farther from the street than the houses on either side.

 

The earliest residents of Girard Row townhouses were goldsmiths, merchants, shoemakers, carpenters and bricklayers. Two of the houses are currently on the market, and others are undergoing restoration.

 

Girard Row was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1957.

 

Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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