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Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District

Georgian and Colonial Architecture

The Georgian style was the  dominant architectural style of the English colonies from the early  eighteenth century to about 1780, but forms of the style persisted in  some areas to as late as 1830. Although the style derives its name from  England’s King George, the buildings in this style in Roxborough  probably owe as much to Germany as to Britain, and therefore may be more  appropriately referred to as simply Colonial in style. Georgian or  Colonial style houses were typically side-gabled, two-story boxes with  windows and doors arranged in strict symmetry. Additions were often  constructed to the sides or rears as new needs arose. Georgian houses in  northwest Philadelphia were typically constructed of Wissahickon  schist. Relatively simple buildings, they were typically ornamented with  molded cornices, door surrounds, and, in the early years, with pent  eaves. The buildings typically featured shed or pedimented dormers.

The Georgian vernacular  farmhouse at 900 Northwestern Avenue is one of the oldest surviving  buildings in Roxborough (Figure 17). The ancient farmhouse stands with  an early barn on a rural lot at the northern edge of Roxborough,  providing an impression of township during its bucolic, farming days.  The house has been dated to 1690 and the barn to 1700 by one local  historian. While dates for the buildings have not yet been thoroughly  documented, they more likely are situated in the 1720s, when Hans George  John owned the property.57 The  whitewashed stone house with shake roof, which sits very low to the  ground, includes many of the features of early German Colonial buildings  in southeastern Pennsylvania: pent eaves, shed and gabled dormers,  large chimneys, and multi-paned windows. The tall stone barn with  steeply pitched roof is typical of early German-American construction.

The twin house at 7549 and 7551  Ridge Avenue is an excellent example of a Georgian vernacular building  (Figure 18). It is a symmetrical, side-gabled, two-story, stone building  set low to the ground with a steeply pitched roof. Although the  buildings include informal date stones on the front facades reading 1717  and 1784, it appears that the building was not constructed as early as  1717, but was actually constructed at some point after 1764. While  marketing the 179¼-acre property, which was roughly bounded by Ridge  Road and the Wissahickon Creek and the current lines of Shawmont and  Wigard Avenues, for sale in 1764, John Malcolm advertised it as:

A  Valuable Plantation, in Roxborough Township, about nine miles from  Philadelphia, containing 180 Acres, 100 of which is well wooded, the  rest clear, and under Fence, with a good Log-house, Barn and Stable, 6  acres watered meadow, and more may be made, a Well of excellent Water by  the Door, an Orchard of the best Newtown Pippins. The Situation is  exceedingly high, commands an extensive Prospect.58

Malcolm made no mention of the  two-story stone house on Ridge Road in his 1764 advertisement offering  the property for sale, but only mentioned a log house, barn, and stable.  Malcolm sold the property in 1764 to Andrew Crawford. The property was  held by members of the Crawford family during the later eighteenth  century, when the existing two-story, stone, twin building was likely  constructed.59

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Several other significant  eighteenth-century buildings stand along Ridge Avenue in Roxborough  including the twin houses at 6633 and 6635 Ridge Avenue, the twin houses  at 7616-18 Ridge Avenue, the buildings at 6835 Ridge Avenue and 7625  Ridge Avenue. All are two-story, side-gable, stone buildings with  dormers. The vernacular stone building at 7701 Ridge Avenue is an  unusual survivor; dating to about 1790, the small, side-gable, stone  building has 2-½ stories with half-height windows at the top floor, a  fenestration style that would become prevalent in the middle third of  the nineteenth century.

This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

57 Jim Duffin kindly provided his research into the property, which  concludes that the house was likely built by Hans George John in the  1720s, not the 1690s, as others have claimed.

58 Pennsylvania Gazette, 1 March 1764, p. 3.

59 The 180-acre property was sold by the Pennsylvania Land Company to John  Malcolm in 1763 (Deed Book H-19-202); from John Malcolm to Andrew  Crawford in 1764 (Deed Book H-19-213). It passed by will to Hugh  Crawford and then to Ann, Mary, Jane, and Hugh Crawford Jr. by will in  1783.

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