top of page
Children's Crisis Treatment Center
There is new construction at 1823-1835 Callowhill Street, a six-story apartment building with first floor commercial space. The history of this site unfolds through a church, a boiler shop, some litigating residents, an orphanage, a noteworthy Philadelphia female architect with ties in our neighborhood, a treatment center for psychologically traumatized children, a pop-up beer garden, and finally an homage to Matthias W. Baldwin.
View looking northwest in 2015 before demolition.
The concrete sign says:
Reception Center for Children
Department of Public Welfare
City of Philadelphia
Aerial view from 2013 shows the Children's Crisis Treatment Center (CCTC) within the red box labeled A, stretching from 1823 to 1835 Callowhill Street. Franklin Beverage is at 1837 (now across the street), a surface parking lot at 1839-1845, and the Rose Tattoo at 1847 Callowhill Street. 1837 Callowhill was sold in December of 2020 to 1823 Callowhill Associates LLC for $650,000. 1839-1847 are owned by Maltea Properties LLC. The market value of 1847 Callowhill (The Rose Tattoo) is listed at $311,600 but sold for $1.5 million in May of 2019. The combined properties of the empty lots at 1839-1845 are listed on the City property records with a market value of $576,000.
The flag lot to the north and east of the CCTC is discussed in our website article here.
But first, let's talk zoning. Is a particular neighborhood residential, commercial, or industrial? Back in the nineteenth century, every neighborhood was all three. Three story row homes had the family business on the ground floor and living quarters, for the family or tenants, above. Our current neighborhood was no exception. Many of the 18,000 workers at Baldwin Locomotive Works and the thousands of workers at other businesses in the neighborhood lived in rooming houses, eating their meals on the first floor of the homes at which they rented rooms. There were also ground floor groceries, laundries, tailors, shoemakers, coal dealers, doctors, barbers, and apothecaries. There were hard core industries in our neighborhood as well, often loud, sooty, and dangerous. Until Philadelphia wrote zoning codes in the 1920's, establishing residential, commercial, and industrial districts, it was a free-for-all.
In 1851 the Emory Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church bought 1825-1827 Callowhill Street and built a church which operated until 1891, when it was conveyed to the Spring Garden ME Church. It was sold to Richard Guynan and Annie Thompson in 1893. Next door to the east, the house at 1823 Callowhill was owned by Elizabeth Benson, who rented it out. Next door to the west, 1829 Callowhill was owned by Theresa Hafer who also bought the house in 1886 and also rented it out.
Portion of City Atlas from 1875. Except for the Emory ME Church the entire block is solidly residential, with houses facing both Callowhill and Rhoads (now Shamokin) Streets.
If you were wondering why John H. Morgan's House Painter business rates a highlight on the City Atlas of 1875, it is because he took out an ad in the business pages, as seen here. He and his family may have lived above his shop.
Houses often had commercial uses including small stores and rental lodgings. These five houses fronted 18th Street between Callowhill and the surface tracks on Pennsylvania Avenue (to the left out of frame) in 1894. There is a grocery store in the house on the left and a cigar shop in the middle house.
This would conform to CMX-1 zoning today, meaning buildings conforming to adjacent residences with small-scale, low-impact, neighborhood-serving commercial uses. The south side of the 1800 block of Callowhill also fits this description today.
Portion of City Atlas from 1895 showing a still residential block bordered by manufacturers. All the houses on the south side of the surface tracks on Pennsylvania Avenue will be removed when the tracks are put 25 feet below the surface in 1898.
Guynan along with Thomas and James Thompson decided to convert the quiet church building into a boiler shop, generating noise from 7 am to 5 pm six days a week. From this conversion arose an interesting lawsuit from their neighbors at 1823 and 1829. The claim was loss of rental income from the noise of the shop. This was decided in 1897 in Philadelphia County Court. Even though the two neighbors lived on a residential block, the larger neighborhood was deemed industrial and therefore residents would have to expect industry to spread around the neighborhood, including a boiler shop across the party wall of the house.
Summary of findings from December 1897. For full case in ten pages see here.
Portion of City Atlas from 1922 showing industrial encroachment and vacant lots.
1911 photo looking north.
The Thompson Iron Works at 1825-27 Callowhill Street peeks its cornice above the construction of Catholic Girls High School (now Hallahan). To the right is the lighter-colored Philadelphia Iron Works on Shamokin Street (the "Steam Boiler Works" in the 1922 map above).
The Graham/Laird factories are in the back center with the rooftop water tank.
Portion of the Land Use Map from 1942 showing only one residence on the block, that also having a commercial use, denoted by the letter D on a stippled background. That is now the Rose Tattoo. The slanted lines represent industrial uses, the stippled dots are commercial, the letter S represents a drive-in gas station, and the letter V is vacant land.
1847 Callowhill was the site of the W. J. Reynolds Funeral Home which had taken care of the victims of (alleged) arsenic-murderer Bridget Carey, as discussed here.
The City would buy 1823-1835 Callowhill Street in 1947.
Let's talk orphanages. In the nineteenth century life was fragile. If one were lucky enough to make it through childhood diseases to adulthood, there still loomed the specter of death by industrial accident, infectious disease, a Confederate bullet for men, and childbirth for women. Even with one surviving parent, young children might be placed in institutions run by private charities, many religious. Our near-neighborhood had a number of institutions for children and women just south of the Cathedral. On the current Franklin Institute site there was a home for the blind and one for "fallen women," the Magdalen Asylum. Well north of the neighborhood there was the biggest of them all, Girard College for "poor, white, male, orphans." And within our neighborhood were two orphanages: the Preston Retreat at the current site of City View Condominiums, built in 1840 as a maternity hospital but functioning as an orphanage for its first 25 years; and St. Vincent's Home at the eastern end of what is now Hallahan High School.
Portion of 1865 Barnes map showing institutions for women and children south of the Cathedral and on the current site of the Franklin Institute. St. Vincent's Home is just north of Logan Square and the Preston Retreat is just out of the frame to the north at 20th and Hamilton.
The City had been taking some role in orphan care since the formation of the Orphans Society of Philadelphia in 1816. Government institutions would run apprenticeship programs placing orphans in outlying factories, or have work shops within the institution itself, ostensibly to teach work skills but also to bring in money. In 1883 institutionalization of children for more than 60 days was prohibited except for those children with physical or mental disabilities. As the role of custodian of orphans moved from private charities to government agencies, and foster care placement and adoption became more common, all of the above-mentioned orphanages disappeared. The Department of Public Welfare had operated a Temporary Child Center at 1733 Vine Street in a converted townhouse starting in the 1920's. In 1947 a new Reception Center was planned for 1823 Callowhill Street. The Family Court with its children's division had been built in 1941 nearby, so the location seemed appropriate. The architectural firm of Roth and Fleisher was engaged for the design.
Let's talk architects. Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher (1893-1975) was an architect with neighborhood connections. She was the daughter of Harry B. Hirsh (1864-1944), who himself gets an honorary Baldwin Park iron/coal merit badge as the president of the Belmont Iron Works on Washington Avenue and 22nd Street. In 1904 the iron works expanded into Eddystone, adjoining what would become the Baldwin Locomotive Works facility. He remained on the board of directors of Belmont Iron Works until his death in 1944. In 1960, when the continually expanding iron works was one of the largest steel fabricators in the northeast United States, it was purchased by businessman and later philanthropist Raymond G. Perelman, whose name you may have seen on a few buildings in town.
Elizabeth Hirsh graduated in 1910 from the Philadelphia High School for Girls at 17th and Spring Garden Streets, since 1933 the site of Masterman High School. In 1916 she married Horace Fleisher (1887-1964), who was part of a Fleisher clan that occupied eight homes within a few blocks of the future Baldwin Park. Horace himself lived at 2223 Green Street and his brother Benjamin lived at 1736 Spring Garden Street. Horace's father, Moyer Fleisher, and uncle Simon B. Fleisher, had founded Fleisher Yarn Co in southwest Philadelphia, with a branch at 25th and Hamilton Streets. Samuel Stewart Fleisher (1871-1944), son of Simon, joined the company in 1892 and left his estate, for the perpetuation of his Graphic Sketch Club, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial at 719 Catherine Street is still going strong. Closer to us, Edwin A. Fleisher, brother of Stewart, in 1929 donated over 3,000 musical scores to the Free Library of Philadelphia as the nucleus of what now represents the largest repository of orchestral performance materials in the world. These works, now numbering over 21,000, are loaned to performance organizations throughout the world for concerts and recordings.
The foregoing is not an attempt to define Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher by the men in her life, but an attempt to show her neighborhood connections. She stood on her own merits. She was the first woman to pass exams to become a registered architect in Philadelphia. In 1951 Roth and Fleisher designed the massive Parkway House at 2201 Pennsylvania Avenue. You can read more about her and the Parkway House in an outside article here.
The Belmont Iron Works at 22nd and Washington Avenue in 1916.
It looks like it would blend in well in our neighborhood of 1916.
Raymond G. Perelman had two companies at the time of his death in 2019 at age 101, RGP Holdings and Belmont Holdings, the latter recalling one of his early projects.
Ad for Fleisher Yarns and a portion of a 1901 map showing the satellite factory at 25th and Hamilton. The reservoirs in this map are still located atop Fair Mounte. The circle at the top left of the map represents the original location of the massive monument to George Washington, completed in 1897, which now rests across from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's east entrance.
The Reception Center for Children nearing completion in 1949.
The "Recreation Center" on the photo is a misreading of the intent of the building.
Those rooftop water tanks are on the warehouse in the north half of the future Baldwin Park.
Another Roth and Fleisher designed building was at the northeast corner of 15th and Locust Streets, built for Lionel Friedmann Strouse Greenberg & Company in the real estate business.
Mid-century design has its fans...and its critics.
Elizabeth Fleisher's self-designed home at 4030 Apalogen Road in East Falls, built in 1954 and called Tulipwood (again with naming your house!). She died here at age 83.
Rare photo of Elizabeth Fleisher from an article in the Inquirer 7 October 1951.
The Children's Reception Center evolved.
The Center for Early Childhood Services (CECS) was founded 1971 by Dr. Louise Sandler as a research demonstration project funded by the US Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. The program was housed in the basement of the Franklin Institute from 1971 to 1978 and received support from Hahnemann Hospital. In 1978 it moved to 1823 Callowhill Street as the Children's Crisis Treatment Center and became a non-profit. It provided psychologic counseling for traumatized children, including family outreach. In 2007 the idea for an $8 million expansion of the CCTC building was floated, adding one floor to the back and three stories to each wing. This never materialized. In March 2013 the CCTC consolidated three sites into one at 1080 N Delaware Avenue, leaving the City-owned building at 1823 Callowhill Street vacant. In 2015 a developer bought the building for $2 million with plans to raze it. In 2015 Inga Saffron wrote an article in the Inquirer in defense of this "midcentury modern gem" of a "rare woman-designed building." To no avail; the building was demolished in 2016.
The CCTC was just outside the Franklin Town Development Corporation boundary, but in 1985 it was looking pretty forlorn surrounded by surface parking lots. In this view only the Watermark (then called the Fountains at Logan Square East) in lower right was built as part of that 1971 plan.
Proposed expansion at 1823 Callowhill Street as seen in the Philadelphia Inquirer of 27 April 2007. This would have doubled the square footage to 30,000 square feet, but it never happened. The CCTC moved out in 2013.
Let's talk zoning again. As discussed in our article on the Franklin Town Development project of 1971, there was a City-approved plan for private developers to scrape the earth over 50 acres in the neighborhood and build everything from scratch, within ten years. Twenty-story buildings were to line the new diagonal Franklin Town Boulevard from Vine Street right up to the new park (now Baldwin Park). After leveling most of the neighborhood, money became tight and building progressed only in fits and starts (see second article on Franklin Town here). Instead, fifty years of organic growth has allowed a mix of 24-story buildings, mid-level apartments, 19th-century townhomes, and first-floor commercial establishments serving the neighborhood.
New construction now requires a good fit to its surroundings, maybe somewhat better than a boiler shop between two row homes. Zoning codes have empowered politicians and neighborhood groups to have a say about land use. As of 2016 the City of Philadelphia regulates development with 19 different base zoning districts, most of them with several subcategories, and this doesn't include other zoning issues like parking, signage, open space, floor to land area ratios, and landscaping. In addition, there are areas that are within larger overlay districts, where the zoning rules within the larger overlay take precedence over the base zoning district. Just as a non-developable example, Baldwin Park is zoned SP-PO-A (Special Purpose-Parks and Open Space-Active), but also is controlled by five different overlays. Back in that 1897 court case the entire neighborhood was deemed industrial, and by 2012 there were still two industrial zoned parcels: 411 North 20th Street where the old granary is now rehabbed; and the entire block along the south side of the 1600 block of Callowhill Street. These sites as of 2016 are zoned CMX-4, meaning commercial-residential mixed that can be quite a bit higher and denser than the CMX-2 zoning along the south side of the 1800 block of Callowhill Street.
Those are just the government regulations. There are also neighborhood desires. Registered Community Organizations (RCO) are neighborhood organizations that have the right to a voice in the development process within their boundaries. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is the RCO for most of the Baldwin Park neighborhood (please join LSNA here!). RCO's know their neighborhoods best, and in 2017 LSNA worked with the City Planning Commission to amend some outdated zoning in the Baldwin Park neighborhood. The north side of the 1800 block of Callowhill Street was rezoned from CMX-3 to the more block-compatible CMX-2.5. CMX-3 allows commercial use on the first floor, but CMX-2.5 requires commercial use on the first floor. The change in zoning was meant to keep the commercial corridor vibrant and pedestrian friendly. According to the Logan Square Parkway Neighborhood Plan Update in 2019, available on the LSNA web page, the neighborhood dream for the entire north side of the 1800 block of Callowhill Street would be:
"The development should include consolidation of the various parcels to permit striking of the former Shamokin Street right of way and include a pedestrian bridge plaza access between the development and Baldwin Park. The design of the Baldwin Park façade will be as important as that of the Callowhill Street façade. The parcel is zoned CMX2.5 Neighborhood Commercial Corridor mixed use, with a height limit of 55 feet or 5 stories."
It looks like this ambitious block-long plan is not to be realized.
Orens Brothers 70-foot tall project in a proposal presented to LSNA in April 2020.
Zoning allows an extra 15 feet of height in a CMX-2.5 parcel if a fresh food market of at least 5,000 square feet meets the following conditions; it has a separate entrance located along the main street; is on the ground floor of the building; has at least 25% of retail inventory by volume in the form of perishable goods; and has at least 750 square feet used for the sale of fresh fruits and produce.
There used to be a fifth mural in the neighborhood (for other four see here).
The mural titled The Journey by Meg Fish Saligman was applied to the east face of the CCTC in 1999.
The view of the Tivoli on the right will one day be blocked by new construction; of that, you can be sure.
During the construction delay caused by Covid, an outdoor beer garden occupied the site in the summer of 2020.
Gone: Roth and Fleisher, Architects
on the lower left of the original sign for the Reception Center for Children
Still here: Plaque honoring Roth and Fleisher in the lobby of the Parkway House
Grave of Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher, and others, in Mt. Sinai Cemetery in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia.
And finally, to our Matthias W. Baldwin. The new six-story apartment building at an official address of 1825 Callowhill Street is to be named The Baldwin. It looks to be a nice addition to the Baldwin Park neighborhood.
authored by Joe Walsh, August 2021
bottom of page