September 21, 2022 11:00 EST

Books and Manuscripts

 
  Lot 90
 

90

[Philadelphia & Pennsylvania]
Large Philadelphia Land Deed Archive

A large archive of land deeds and other documents detailing the transformations of one historic block in Center City Philadelphia, now site of The Curtis Center

Philadelphia, ca. 1794-1908. Archive of 125 documents, including 107 land deeds, two briefs of title, two plat maps, and other documents recording over a century of real estate transactions, and other business, for parcels of land that comprise one whole city block in Center City Philadelphia, located between 6th and 7th Streets from Walnut Street to Sansom Street, and now the site of the massive Curtis Center. Most documents in MS. and on vellum, some printed; each document with numerous signatures from attesting parties involved, including recorders, witnesses, justices of the peace, etc. All with contemporary folds; many with original wax and paper seals, ties, etc. Overall in near-fine condition. Full list of documents available upon request.

Adjacent to both historic Independence Hall and Washington Square Park, the Beaux-Arts-style Curtis Publishing Company building (now called the Curtis Center) was constructed on 885,786 square feet in William Penn's original grid plan of the city. This archive spans over 100 years, from the close of the 18th-century (eight documents), when Philadelphia was the capital of the young nation, through the entirety of the 19th-century (115 documents), when it became an industrial powerhouse, and into the 20th-century (two documents), and it documents the numerous residences, businesses, and institutions that formerly occupied this single piece of land. Over 350 people, many of whom were prominent and successful in the history of Philadelphia and the early United States (including dozens of Revolutionary War soldiers), and many that are now long forgotten, are documented in these items, with over 500 signatures recorded.

The archive begins with a December 31, 1794 land deed from James Logan, Jr. (1728-1803)--son of James Logan (1674-1751), colonial secretary to William Penn--to merchant John Swanwick (1759-1798), for the entire parcel of land. Largely open field and meadow at this time, the land was bequeathed to Logan, Jr. in his father's will, and was the site of Logan, Sr.'s library, the Longanian Library, whose contents were transferred to the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1793. From here Swanwick begins breaking up the land into smaller parcels for sale, and three years later, in 1797, some of these are then sold by him to various individuals and families. Three deeds included here register the transfer from Swanwick to merchant and Quaker Mordecai Lewis (1749-1799), as well as merchants Hannah Holland and John Fries (1744-1824). Only four months after Swanwick sold Lewis his tract of land, a deed dated July 26, 1797 documents its transfer from Lewis to prominent merchant and land developer William Sansom (1763-1840; Sansom introduced the famous rowhouse-style residence to Philadelphia in 1799 at Carstairs Row, near to this lot)--from where Sansom Street takes its name--and Godfrey Haga (1745-1825). A December 4, 1797 deed then shows the transfer of Haga and his wife's share of land on the east side of 7th street entirely to Sansom (seven other deeds from Sansom to various individuals are included). As the archive progresses into the 19th century, dozens of deeds record the further breakup of this large block of land into lots of various configurations and size, and their transfer to individuals, families, and businesses. Notable ownership of lots includes American artist Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860); prominent Philadelphia publisher Matthew Carey (1760-1839); publisher and bookseller Samuel Bradford (1776-1837); Congressman Benjamin Say (1755-1813); William Short (1759-1849), Thomas Jefferson's private secretary and friend; John Stevens (1749-1838), prominent inventor, engineer and lawyer; Joseph Dulles, of the prominent Dulles family line; a variety of prominent merchants, including, John Wachsmuth; tanner Jonathan Meredith; goldsmith Joseph Richardson, Jr. (son of important American silversmith Joseph Richardson, Sr.), who was later appointed by President George Washington as assayer of the United States Mint; members of the promiment Quaker and merchant Livezey family; as well as dozens of other individuals and merchants, including carpenters William Palmer and William McMullen, merchant Joseph Tagert, bricklayer Isaac Herbert, carpenter Isaac Forsyth, letter carrier Daniel Johnson, sheriff William Donaldson, and others.

Many of these documents are signed by prominent figures in early Philadelphia and American history, either as judges, justices of the peace, witnesses, aldermen, etc., including, Isaac Howell (1722-97), Quaker and member of the Religious Society of Free Quakers; Edward Shippen IV (1729-1806), prominent Quaker, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, and father of Margaret Shippen (wife of Benedict Arnold); John Bayard Smith (1742-1818), Continental Congressman and signer of the Articles of Confederation; Joseph Cowperthwaite (1735-1809), promiment Quaker and Revolutionary soldier; Samuel Wheeler (1742-1810), Continental Army blacksmith; John E. Cresson (1773-1814), prominent Quaker; Michael Hillegas (1729-1804), first United States Treasurer; Thomas Smith (1745-1809), Continental Congressman and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice; Philadelphia mayors, John Inskeep, Michael Keppele, John Banker, and Matthew Lawler; George Graham (1770-1830), twice acting Secretary of War, and later Commissioner of the General Land Office; Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820), surveyor of Washington, D.C.; Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822), naval commander; Horace Binney (1780-1875), United States Congressman for Pennsylvania; DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), ten-time New York City mayor. Also included is an 1804 deed to the Philadelphia Society for the Establishment of Charity Schools, a predecessor to the Philadelphia public school system.

The Curtis Publishing Company was founded in 1891 by Cyrus H. K. Curtis (1850-1933). Through its innovative business model and forays into market research it became one of the largest and most successful publishing companies in the United States in the early 20th-century, and revolutionized the business of magazine publication. It published stalwarts of the time, including The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, as well as others like The American Home, Jack & Jill, and Country Gentleman. Curtis began acquiring the lots that make up the footprint of the Curtis building in 1900. Included in this archive are two pieces of supplementary documentation pertaining to this, including a large MS. plat map on onionskin, ca. early 1900s, showing the property boundaries that make up the entire footprint prior to construction, as well as a printed survey plan made for the Curtis Publishing Company, entitled: “Measured for The Curtis Publishing Co., November 23, 1908.” The Curtis building was constructed from 1909-11, and was used as the primary headquarters and printing plant for Curtis's publishing empire.

This archive represents a unique glimpse and record of one single piece of Philadelphia real estate.

Sold for $8,820
Estimated at $5,000 - $8,000


 

A large archive of land deeds and other documents detailing the transformations of one historic block in Center City Philadelphia, now site of The Curtis Center

Philadelphia, ca. 1794-1908. Archive of 125 documents, including 107 land deeds, two briefs of title, two plat maps, and other documents recording over a century of real estate transactions, and other business, for parcels of land that comprise one whole city block in Center City Philadelphia, located between 6th and 7th Streets from Walnut Street to Sansom Street, and now the site of the massive Curtis Center. Most documents in MS. and on vellum, some printed; each document with numerous signatures from attesting parties involved, including recorders, witnesses, justices of the peace, etc. All with contemporary folds; many with original wax and paper seals, ties, etc. Overall in near-fine condition. Full list of documents available upon request.

Adjacent to both historic Independence Hall and Washington Square Park, the Beaux-Arts-style Curtis Publishing Company building (now called the Curtis Center) was constructed on 885,786 square feet in William Penn's original grid plan of the city. This archive spans over 100 years, from the close of the 18th-century (eight documents), when Philadelphia was the capital of the young nation, through the entirety of the 19th-century (115 documents), when it became an industrial powerhouse, and into the 20th-century (two documents), and it documents the numerous residences, businesses, and institutions that formerly occupied this single piece of land. Over 350 people, many of whom were prominent and successful in the history of Philadelphia and the early United States (including dozens of Revolutionary War soldiers), and many that are now long forgotten, are documented in these items, with over 500 signatures recorded.

The archive begins with a December 31, 1794 land deed from James Logan, Jr. (1728-1803)--son of James Logan (1674-1751), colonial secretary to William Penn--to merchant John Swanwick (1759-1798), for the entire parcel of land. Largely open field and meadow at this time, the land was bequeathed to Logan, Jr. in his father's will, and was the site of Logan, Sr.'s library, the Longanian Library, whose contents were transferred to the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1793. From here Swanwick begins breaking up the land into smaller parcels for sale, and three years later, in 1797, some of these are then sold by him to various individuals and families. Three deeds included here register the transfer from Swanwick to merchant and Quaker Mordecai Lewis (1749-1799), as well as merchants Hannah Holland and John Fries (1744-1824). Only four months after Swanwick sold Lewis his tract of land, a deed dated July 26, 1797 documents its transfer from Lewis to prominent merchant and land developer William Sansom (1763-1840; Sansom introduced the famous rowhouse-style residence to Philadelphia in 1799 at Carstairs Row, near to this lot)--from where Sansom Street takes its name--and Godfrey Haga (1745-1825). A December 4, 1797 deed then shows the transfer of Haga and his wife's share of land on the east side of 7th street entirely to Sansom (seven other deeds from Sansom to various individuals are included). As the archive progresses into the 19th century, dozens of deeds record the further breakup of this large block of land into lots of various configurations and size, and their transfer to individuals, families, and businesses. Notable ownership of lots includes American artist Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860); prominent Philadelphia publisher Matthew Carey (1760-1839); publisher and bookseller Samuel Bradford (1776-1837); Congressman Benjamin Say (1755-1813); William Short (1759-1849), Thomas Jefferson's private secretary and friend; John Stevens (1749-1838), prominent inventor, engineer and lawyer; Joseph Dulles, of the prominent Dulles family line; a variety of prominent merchants, including, John Wachsmuth; tanner Jonathan Meredith; goldsmith Joseph Richardson, Jr. (son of important American silversmith Joseph Richardson, Sr.), who was later appointed by President George Washington as assayer of the United States Mint; members of the promiment Quaker and merchant Livezey family; as well as dozens of other individuals and merchants, including carpenters William Palmer and William McMullen, merchant Joseph Tagert, bricklayer Isaac Herbert, carpenter Isaac Forsyth, letter carrier Daniel Johnson, sheriff William Donaldson, and others.

Many of these documents are signed by prominent figures in early Philadelphia and American history, either as judges, justices of the peace, witnesses, aldermen, etc., including, Isaac Howell (1722-97), Quaker and member of the Religious Society of Free Quakers; Edward Shippen IV (1729-1806), prominent Quaker, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, and father of Margaret Shippen (wife of Benedict Arnold); John Bayard Smith (1742-1818), Continental Congressman and signer of the Articles of Confederation; Joseph Cowperthwaite (1735-1809), promiment Quaker and Revolutionary soldier; Samuel Wheeler (1742-1810), Continental Army blacksmith; John E. Cresson (1773-1814), prominent Quaker; Michael Hillegas (1729-1804), first United States Treasurer; Thomas Smith (1745-1809), Continental Congressman and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice; Philadelphia mayors, John Inskeep, Michael Keppele, John Banker, and Matthew Lawler; George Graham (1770-1830), twice acting Secretary of War, and later Commissioner of the General Land Office; Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820), surveyor of Washington, D.C.; Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822), naval commander; Horace Binney (1780-1875), United States Congressman for Pennsylvania; DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), ten-time New York City mayor. Also included is an 1804 deed to the Philadelphia Society for the Establishment of Charity Schools, a predecessor to the Philadelphia public school system.

The Curtis Publishing Company was founded in 1891 by Cyrus H. K. Curtis (1850-1933). Through its innovative business model and forays into market research it became one of the largest and most successful publishing companies in the United States in the early 20th-century, and revolutionized the business of magazine publication. It published stalwarts of the time, including The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, as well as others like The American Home, Jack & Jill, and Country Gentleman. Curtis began acquiring the lots that make up the footprint of the Curtis building in 1900. Included in this archive are two pieces of supplementary documentation pertaining to this, including a large MS. plat map on onionskin, ca. early 1900s, showing the property boundaries that make up the entire footprint prior to construction, as well as a printed survey plan made for the Curtis Publishing Company, entitled: “Measured for The Curtis Publishing Co., November 23, 1908.” The Curtis building was constructed from 1909-11, and was used as the primary headquarters and printing plant for Curtis's publishing empire.

This archive represents a unique glimpse and record of one single piece of Philadelphia real estate.

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