The Watermark at 2 Franklin Town Boulevard is a 24-story, 464-unit senior life-care center built in 1984. Rental residences are available for those seeking independent living with meals, memory care, and skilled nursing. The building is 350 feet south of Baldwin Park, and residents of the Watermark spend many a day visiting the beauty of the park.
The history of the Watermark parcel is briefly stated: the residences for the workers in the factories in the neighborhood became less desirable as the factories closed; and then the Franklin Town Development Corporation (FTDC) in 1971 announced plans to level the neighborhood and build a new city-within-the-city. This article will focus just on The Watermark, but context can be obtained in the two articles on Franklin Town here and here.
For the first 22 years of its existence the building was called The Fountains at Logan Square East, before being acquired by The Watermark Corporation in 2006 for $25 million. Extensive renovations were done in 2010 and the property was sold for $65.3 million to a company identified as SNR 21 Logan Square Owner in 2015. Watermark Retirement Communities based in Tucson, Arizona, manages this building and 60 other buildings throughout the country, including the four Watermarks in the Philadelphia area.
West side of The Watermark.
East side of The Watermark (in center) seen from the roof of the 34-story Alexander Apartments. Diagonal Franklin Town Boulevard, the pedestrian-friendly byway proposed in 1971, is in the foreground. The One Franklin Town Apartment building is in foreground right. Baldwin Park is at center right.
There are only two numbered addresses on Franklin Town Boulevard: One Franklin Town (Apartments) and 2 Franklin Town (Watermark) across the street.
Portion of 1875 Philadelphia City Atlas showing the block on which The Watermark is currently situated. Callowhill Street is the uppermost street running left to right; Wood Street runs horizontally on the bottom. The neighborhood factories required workers, 20,000 at Baldwin Locomotive Works alone, and housing was tight between the factories. The 100 houses between Callowhill and Wood and 17th and 18th might have provided rooms for 1,000 people. The replacement buildings, the Watermark and One Franklin Town, house about the same number.
The blue arrow points to 1704 Callowhill Street, as seen in the next photo.
1894 photo of the Rosner family at 1704 Callowhill Street. Many of the houses had first floor retail or services, with boarding rooms for the local working men above.
Deindustrialization and disinvestment hit this neighborhood particularly hard.
Portion of 1962 Philadelphia City Atlas showing vacant buildings (V) and surface parking lots. Callowhill Street is at the top. Any lot with the letter S or GS represents a gasoline service pump. As an interesting tangent, if you open the link to the full atlas, you can see the number of properties with curbside gas pumps. One example is shown below: A set of pumps at the southeast corner of 19th and Callowhill Streets below in 1955.
View of gas pumps looking east down Callowhill Street from 19th Street in 1955.
Imperialist tangent to a tangent: after the Spanish-American War ended, "Porto Rico" became the official United States government name for the island. The islanders resented the Anglicization of the proper Spanish name, "Puerto Rico," and ushered a bill through Congress in 1932 to revert back to "Puerto Rico."
This may be an old truck; or Porto Rico Beverages wanted to keep its brand name intact; or somebody did not get the memo.
1983 publicity update on the progress of Logan Square East. Great views, although much has changed in the last 39 years.
The Franklin Town Boulevard side of The Watermark on the left.
The mural on the north side of the building was placed in 2003 via the Mural Arts program, and is called Lifelong Learning.
The corner label on the mural, noting the Residents' Association of The Fountains at Logan Square East. The name change would come three years later.
All development projects using land acquired in conjunction with the City Redevelopment Authority are required to place a piece of art valued at 1% of the project's cost. For the Watermark, or then the Fountains at Logan Square East, this mural is not that piece of art. The Logan Square East Corporation funded the Franklin Town Park (now Baldwin Park) endowment fund to the tune of $100,000 in 1991, which is Percent for Art money well spent.
The same corner as above as seen in 1956.
On the right is the Route 21 trolley, followed by a bus that would eventually replace it.
Same corner viewed looking east down Callowhill Street showing Earl's Luncheonette and Soda Fountain.
Presumably the name "The Fountains at Logan Square East" made reference to the Calder statue group Fountain of the Three Rivers in Logan square, but I prefer to think that it references the soda fountain at Earl's which it displaced.
Portion of aerial map of Philadelphia from 1995 showing extent of surface parking lots, and two parking garages. Franklin Town Boulevard is the diagonal street ending at Baldwin Park, with The Fountains at Logan Square East on the left of the "boulevard" and One Franklin Town (completed 1987) on the right.
This view is 14 years after the Franklin Town Development Project was to have been completed. That original project promised green spaces, pedestrian-friendly transit, and no surface parking lots.
Of the medical offices on the street level at The Watermark, two are of particular interest.
James Magee (1802-1878) was a manufacturer of saddlery hardware at 4th and Market Streets. His products were profitable down South, and Magee invested in land there, making enough money to turn his aspirations elsewhere. In 1847 he became one of the first incorporators and directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and has been called the Father of the Pennsylvania Railroad (although, like any successful enterprise, there have been several self-claimed "fathers." The plaque in 30th Street Station reserves this title for J. Edgar Thomson, Magee's contemporary). Like most railroaders, he also invested in coal, and became the first president of the Westmoreland Coal Company. He remained director until his death in 1878.
Anna Magee, one of his seven children and the last to survive him, lived at 1720 Walnut Street, engaged in civic and religious associations. When she died in 1923, she left $1,285,000 to Jefferson Hospital to establish what is now the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, to provide quality care to those in need of physical convalescence no matter their income. This Magee Memorial Hospital for Convalescents moved to a refurbished factory at 1513 Race Street in 1958.
Two businesses with moderately deep histories on the east side of The Watermark.
2020 photo of Magee Rehab at the northeast corner of 16th and Race Streets.
As the cornerstone shows, this addition to the hospital went up in 1982 on what the Franklin Town Development Company called Franklin Plaza. The address here is Six Franklin Plaza.
The three buildings just west of 16th Street between Race and Vine are 1, 2, and 3 Franklin Plaza, although all of them use their more conventional addresses (i.e. 16th, Race, etc.). As far as I can tell, there are no 4 and 5 Franklin Plazas.
Grave of James Magee in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
The obelisk to Magee's left is that of Matthew Baird, president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works from 1866 until his death in 1877. Just to the right of Magee's tombstone in the distance is the statue atop the grave of James Dougherty, early partner in the Bement machine shop at 20th and Callowhill Streets.
The Hanger Clinic also has an interesting origin story.
In 1861, 18-year-old James Hanger enlisted in the Confederate Army in Virginia. The very night of his enlistment, he was standing guard at the barn where his patrol was staying when a Union cannonball mangled his right leg during a surprise attack. His leg was amputated, allegedly the first of 50,000 amputations performed on both sides during the Civil War. He survived the amputation, and he became dissatisfied with the comfort and mobility allowed by the then-used prostheses. So he developed his own, which caught on with other amputees. He started a business making prosthetics, which I suspect may be the oldest active business represented in the Baldwin Park neighborhood. He lived with his family on Logan Circle (the Washington DC one) until he died in 1919.