Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Octavia Hill Association

Workman Place, South Front Street, 1937

Photograph of Workman Place

Still a thriving neighborhood owned by the Octavia Hill Association, Workman Place on South Front Street is a surviving material artifact of Progressive era housing reform. (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress)

Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress

Today, Workman Place is both a thriving neighborhood (still owned and managed by the Octavia Hill Association) and a surviving material artifact of Progressive Era housing reform. In 1906, the Association purchased and renovated this group of thirteen houses situated around a courtyard, which were then rented to immigrant families. The courtyard provided a focus for creating community, an important Octavia Hill Association strategy for improving the city’s housing.

Other early projects have either disappeared or been significantly altered. Gone are the League Street houses, a group of houses located between Front and Water Streets and north of Washington Street, purchased by the Association in 1899. These dwellings were successfully renovated, rented, and transformed into a neighborhood with a clubhouse and playground. They were demolished in the 1960s for I-95. A small group of properties at 304-308 Lombard Street, consisting of a row of two- and three-story houses and back buildings, was purchased and renovated by the Octavia Hill Association 1910. They still stand, although 304 has been replaced.

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