Fourth of July: Freedom Fighters Beneath Our Feet

Penn Mutual Insurance Company, on the Square’s eastern side. was also designed by Seeler. Adjacent to Penn Mutual is John Haviland’s 1838 Egyptian Revival design for the Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Company, which now serves as a façade for a skyscraper. An Italianate building designed by Addison Hutton in 1868 on the northwest corner formerly served as the headquarters of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS). Lea & Febiger, established in 1785 at the corner of 6th and Locust, was once the home of the oldest publisher in the United States.

Perhaps the most charming of all the buildings on Washington Square is the small Colonial Revival house wedged between the Athenaeum, the first Italianate building in America, built in 1845 by John Norman, and a six-story condominium that was formerly the home of J.B. Lippincott, a publishing company dating back to 1792. Known as the Dilworth House, this was the former home of Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth, who is credited with the neighborhood’s revival in the early 1960s.  (Again, don’t delay. The wrecking ball is due to replace Dilworth House with a high-rise condo.)

As uninspiring as it may look today, Hopkinson House condos, circa 1963, located on the south side of the park, designed by Louis Kahn, protégé Oskar Stonorov, received an award for “outstanding quality of design” by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

While there’s much debate on the aesthetics of the St. James, a Chicago-style, glass and concrete residential skyscraper on the park’s northwest corner, foodies are raving about the building’s restaurants, Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Daily, both specializing in farm-to-table cuisine.

No matter what time of year you go, I recommend taking a moment to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square Park and pay tribute to the true heroes of the Revolution.


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