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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

A Brief History of the "Carriage House" at the Rear of 3905 Spruce Street:
Part VII: Historic Structure Report: the Carriage House in Insurance Surveys,
1925 - 1960

by Mark Frazier Lloyd, August 2000

 

 

Architectural historians often find insurance surveys to be a very important source when compiling the construction history of a building. In the case of the Carriage House, two such surveys have been found, copied, and deposited in the "International House" folder of the Information Files collection at the University Archives.

The first of these is Policy #28433 of the Philadelphia Contributionship, issued on 16 December 1925. It contains of photograph of Carriage House, a floor plan of the building, and a description of its use. The structure was two stories high, rectangular in shape, fifty-seven feet long by thirty-three feet deep. Though its back wall stood on the property line of Irving Street, the Carriage House faced south, toward the rear of 3905 Spruce Street. It was built of brick, with a brick cornice. Its roof was both hipped and flat. The roofing materials were slate and tin. By 1925 much of the first floor was used as an automobile garage; the remainder for the storage of "wood for kindling." On the second floor was a "janitor's dwelling," with a coal range and a gas stove.

In June 1935 the policy was amended, stating that the "former garage section [was] to be changed in July into a bake shop and meat storage of a caterer, who has a storehouse for canned goods and provisions in [the] adjoining building and which communicates with this Building in 1st [floor] only. Janitor still in 2nd. Old stalls are to be rmovedand place for 2 cars arranged." It is not clear that this alteration ever took place, for in May 1943 the same Contributionship employee noted that the Carriage House was "now a dwelling and garage."

The second survey is Policy #11,032 of the Mutual Assurance Company of Philadelphia, issued on 9 August 1935. It is less informative, as it focuses almost entirely on the main house at 3905 Spruce Street. It does contain, however, a floor plan of the Carriage House, showing the same fifty-seven foot by thirty-three foot dimensions described in the Contributionship policy. The Mutual Assurance Company policy was cancelled on 27 July 1960, shortly after International House moved to Center City and the University purchased the Spruce Street property.

 


 

Archival Sources

Collections of the Historical Society of the University of Pennsylvania:

Policy #11,032 of the Mutual Assurance Company of Philadelphia, issued on 9 August 1935 (copy deposited in the "International House" folder of the Information Files collection at the University Archives).

Policy #28433 of the Philadelphia Contributionship, issued on 16 December 1925 (copy deposited in the "International House" folder of the Information Files collection at the University Archives).