We’re on the hunt for Frankford’s oldest house

General awesomeness going on in our message board:

16 Comments on "We’re on the hunt for Frankford’s oldest house"

  1. there is a driving range on Snake Rd (Ramona?) that has a hose on it. Is that considered Frankford?

  2. Yup, it’s north of the Frankford Creek and east of Roosevelt Blvd, it’s Northwood/Frankford.

  3. Benj Rush House?

  4. They say it was built between 1830 and 1850. That can’t be that old for Frankford.


  5. Good point Jim. What about the quaker house on Waln street. I don’t think that’s a house anyways. I’ll keep looking!

  6. NCA President Emeritus | January 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    The “Oldest House” question may have been based upon, or intended to mean a building which is presently occupied and in use.

    But what constitutes “a house.?”

    I prefer to think of Churches are considered occupied as “The House of God,” while the empty and abandoned homes are still being occupied with spirits, ghosts & memories of those who once lived in them.

    I consider Cemeteries as being occupied by residents (non-voting residents) – the perfect place to evict or relocate the “residents” in order to (steal) acquire valuable real-estate for commercial development. Who can they complain to?

    There are ample properties in Frankford that date before the American Revolution. I submitted a map and some pictures that will be posted with some of my comments. Jim will get those up latter. I suggest many of you do the same.

    In the past, Debbie Klak and I wrote letters to Preservation Alliance to try to make Frankford a Historic District and Northwood a Conservation District.

    It never went very far, as too many non-profits were on the payroll of the City and State. They did not want preservation. They wanted revitalization – which meant tearing down old buildings.

    In 2007, Diane Prokop wrote a six week series called “Frankford at the Crossroads,” Published in the Northeast Times. It was a riveting condemning expose. I consider it her best work – ever!

    I wrote to Preservation Alliance to save the Fisher’s Lane Bridge, saying that the whole highway was an historic relic:

    MINUTES OF PROVINCIAL COUNCIL October 1696: an order: “to Lay outt the kings road” (Frankford Avenue). But there was also another petition attached which has gone without notice for Fisher’s Lane:

    “Oxford petition for Two Roads & a Branch &c.”

    “Upon reading the petition of the neighborhood and adjacent inhabitants of Oxford Townshipp, in the Countie of philadelphia, Requesting the Governor & Councill to settle upon ye & the publick, two roads, & a branch of road over Thomas p’sons water mill race, and thence to the Bristoll Townshipp….”


    “… As also a Branch of the said Road beginning att a White Oak, in Richards Buzbies Land, near Jno Wells’ Log-House, Leading to the extent of the bounds of Oxford township…” [Extracted from pgs 499 to 502 of Journal Of The Councell Of The Province of Pensylvania, Colonial Series, The Pennsylvania Archives]

    One common, often repeated mistake is made by dating the brigde as being built in 1796. That is incorrect. There was a new top placed on the Bridge in 1796, but the cornerstone clearly shows the date of 1759.

    Why was Bridge & Road so important?

    Fishers Lane (Rowlandville Road) would have been the most direct route to deliver the raw materials for the Revolution to Germantown from the Frankford/Oxford powder-mill location. (Rowlandville was a small town next to Milldale & was up-stream along the same creek. Both disappeared overnight sometime after the Civil War & before 1900.)

    I have records proving Troops, both the English Dragoon and the American Flying camp using this road.

    For all my efforts, It did get put on to an endangered list – meaning- there is no money to fix it so – hold hands as you watch it collapse.

    Fred Moore and I have been there several times discussing this issue. Fred did some great photos: http://www.ishots.net/fisherslanebridge/

    For the the record – I was not a very good civic president, as I opposed commercial development.

    I often times insulted our elected officials by telling them that they were public servants and accountable to us – WE the People. They thought of themselves differently.

    I heard the feedback that some of our Councilmatic Officials considered me problematic – so we felt the same way about each other.

    For our City being so screwed up – I still place blame upon weak/corrupt City Officials who exploit the dollar store mentality of an apathetic public by passing a few dollars to the non-profits who do their “dirty work” in the brainwashing of communities.

    One thing to remember – Even Preservation Alliance is a non-profit, one which cannot afford to ever take a position opposite to the politicians who are feeding them.

    When enough money is thrown into any “Historic Study” – “the power” who supplies the money, will influence “the study” They will always get the predetermined & desired results.

    This is exactly what happened in Greenwood Cemetery and the house built by Benjamin Rush. I have evidence that contradicts their study which proves “cut Nails” in America were being manufactured as early as 1775.

    A funny thing their study overlooked at was that William Rush (Benjamin’s Uncle with whom Benj. was very close) was a Blacksmith and would have had the machinery to manufacture the cut nails.

    For better or for worse “Money Talks,” and people are weak.


    Not sorry about the rant – it was a long time over due.

  7. “For our City being so screwed up – I still place blame upon weak/corrupt City Officials who exploit the dollar store mentality of an apathetic public by passing a few dollars to the non-profits who do their “dirty work” in the brainwashing of communities.”

    That statement deserves repeating!

  8. LOVE the rant we need more people like you who care!!!!

  9. The oldest house in Frankford, and thought to be the oldest house in Philadelphia, is the second house on Adams Avenue ,west of Kensington Ave.
    There is another one like it that is situated on Church St. on the east side of the Frankford Avenue , across from Frankford Presbyterian Church. It sits behind a building that was once a bar. A survey was done by volunteers of the Historical Society of Frankford, 2 years ago for City Planning , through a grant from Preservation Alliance, to identify how many houses are still standing in Frankford that were built prior to the Civil War. There are about 500 houses . There were others , but sadly some of them were torn down by NTI.

  10. I think they both sit behind bars right? Little stone houses. And maybe the oldest house in Philly. Neat!!

  11. One sits next to a bar, or what was a bar. It is the second structure from the south corner of Adams and Kensington. The other one on Church St. is behind the old bar. They are both little stone houses.

  12. What year were those houses built? They look similar?

  13. I have to go check out this Fisher’s Lane Bridge.

  14. The house on Adams Ave was built around 1726 maybe earlier. It was the Diehl house
    Both houses are stone rubble houses and may have been built around the same time.

  15. Do we know who owns those houses. Would be interesting to get a tour of what an 18th century house in Frankford looked like.

  16. You would have to go on the BRT website to see who owns them.
    There were others like the one on Adams Ave that stood where the empty lot is. I was told that FUN-CDC had them torndown. I know that one of them was on the Phila. Register.

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