University City Historical Society

Spruce Hill in University City | Historic Architecture in West Philadelphia: 1789-1930s. Photo by Joseph Minardi © 2010.

Welcome to UCHS

2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the University City Historical Society.

University City contains the nation's largest collection of intact Victorian housing stock, with three major National Register Historic Districts: Powelton, Garden Court, and the West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb.

Our Mission: The University City Historical Society promotes awareness of the history and architectural character of University City.

In the Newsletter

Late Summer 2017

  • Celebrate our 50th! Celebration dinner at the Restaurant School in November (details to come).
  • New Board Member. UCHS welcomes Justin McDaniel to our Board of Governors. Justin is a professor of Religious Studies at Penn. In 2016 he successfully nominated The 420 Row to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
  • Summer Intern. UCHS welcomes Anne K. Albert as 2017 Summer Intern. Anne is completing a Master's degree in Historic Preservation at Penn and will work with UCHS to write nominations for historic properties within University City.
  • Flashback 1980s: The Breslyn Apartments added to both Philadelphia and National Register of Historic Places in November 1982.
  • Feature: University City's Queen Anne Homes
  • and more

Preservation Updates

Worthy of Preservation

Nominations to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places


UCHS works with our members and sister organizations to protect our city's historic properties from demolition.

Several properties in West Philadelphia have been recently recommended for historic designation.

"At a Preservation Crossroads" — an open-letter to friends and neighbors.

3500–3510 Lancaster Avenue (West Philadelphia Friends Meeting-House (Hicksite) and Friends School) | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, December 2016.

West Philadelphia Friends Meeting-House (Hicksite) and Friends School

3500–3510 Lancaster Avenue

Currently the Community Education Center, added to the city's Register of Historic Places at the Philadelphia Historical Commission meeting in May 2017; researched and nominated by the University City Historical Society's Amy Lambert and George Poulin. Photo from nomination.

view nomination
435–441 N. 38th Street (Christ Methodist Episcopal Church) | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, July 2016.

Christ Methodist Episcopal Church

435–441 N. 38th Street

The 145-year-old Furness and Hewitt-designed church, currently Mt. Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church, was added to the local register in January 2017; nominated by UCHS Board member, Amy Lambert and architectural historian Michael J. Lewis. Photo from nomination.

view nomination
420–434 S. 42nd Street (The 420 Row) | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, October 2016.

The 420 Row

420–434 S. 42nd Street

The 420 Row is the first-built of Spruce Hill’s earliest real estate developments in the Queen Anne style. A group of eight c. 1885 Queen Anne dwellings were recommended by the Committee in December 2016; nominated by Justin McDaniel, a resident of the block. Photo from nomination.

view nomination
3827–33 Powelton Avenue (Pennsylvania Industrial Home for Blind Women)  | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, November 2016.

Pennsylvania Industrial Home for Blind Women

3827–33 Powelton Avenue

Built in 1880, the Pennsylvania Industrial Home for Blind Women was nominated by the staff of the Historical Commission and was recommended by the Committee in December 2016. Photo from nomination.

view nomination
West Philadelphia Institute Building at 40th & Market, 2012 | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

The Former West Philadelphia Institute

22–26 S. 40th Street

Building attributed to Furness, dates from the time of the Centennial, and has been extensively altered over the years, was recommended by the Committee in December 2016 by a 2-to-1 vote; nominated by Benjamin Leech of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Photo from nomination.

view nomination
4054 Chestnut (Thomas H. Powers Development) | Photo from Nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, May 2016.

Powers Development: Semi-detached Twin

4054 Chestnut

An attempt to remove 4054 Chestnut from the local register was defeated at the December 2016 meeting (it was added in July). UCHS has been trying to save this and other houses from demolition on the 4000 block of Chestnut. Photo from nomination.

view nomination

Celebrating Our 50th

Because we want this history to be read by the residents and other interested members of the public, it is written in the style of a simple chronicle. … The information contained herein concerning the personalities and places of old West Philadelphia should enrich our efforts in building University City.

—A History of Philadelphia's University City, 1963

Send us your photos! If you have old photos of the neighborhood you’d like to share, please send them to info@uchs.net or shared online at Facebook and Instagram. Credit will be given for any photos published in the newsletter.

Oral History Project. UCHS announces a new project to record stories about changes in the neighborhood since UCHS began its work 50 years ago. If you know of any residents or former residents willing to share their recollections, send us an email.
email address for oral history project

Sylvia Barkan Fund for Historic Preservation. A fund has been established for expenses related to efforts in defense of historic structures in University City.

Donations can be mailed to UCHS, P.O. Box 30197, Philadelphia, PA 19104-0627.

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