1870s Guardbox Heads To The Shop

 

Photo: Christopher Mote

A squat wooden hut is not the first landmark that visitors to Washington Square will likely notice. Yet this very Victorian structure was the attention-getter Wednesday morning as a crane lifted it from its crumbling foundations and onto the platform of a moving truck, as if an act of farewell.

“Don’t worry,” Susan Edens, cultural landscape architect for Independence National Historical Park, told me as we witnessed the removal. “They were meant to be moved around.”

Guardbox, circa 1870 | Photo courtesy of Fairmount Park Archives

The hut in question is one of Philadelphia’s last surviving guardboxes–originally used as patrol posts by the Fairmount Park Guard for over a century–and in this case, the move is only temporary. According to Edens, the guardbox, which dates from the 1870s, will undergo a two-month restoration before returning to the park.

Of the more than one hundred guardboxes that once graced the Fairmount Park system, only a handful remain. Most of those that survive, like this one situated at the southeast corner of Washington Square, have been in dire need of repair.

The project is being coordinated in agreement between Independence NHP, which has managed Washington Square since 2005, and the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, which is currently overseeing the restoration of another guardbox that stood along Lincoln Drive.

Photo: Christopher Mote

The $20,000 in funding for the restoration was provided by an anonymous donor to the Society Hill Civic Association, who then contacted the National Park Service, according to Jane Cowley, the Public Affairs Officer for Independence Park. The funds will go towards restoring the flooring, skirtboard, framework and windows, as well as a brand new foundation. The NPS itself is covering the costs associated with the transportation of the guardbox to and from the Fairmount Trust’s conservation studios in West Mount Airy.

Photo: Christopher Mote

Once this hut returns, it’s a safe bet that it won’t need to move again for a while. In the meantime, visitors can find a second guardbox quietly keeping watch over the northwestern quadrant of the square, as it has with continual upkeep–and minimal hoisting–since the early 1900s.

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com



Comments are closed.

Recent Posts
A Broad Street Line Extension Would Need “A Broad Base Of Support”

A Broad Street Line Extension Would Need “A Broad Base Of Support”

March 30, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Previewing the fundraising effort for a BSL extension to the Navy Yard, Woodlands meets fundraising goal, environmental education in a “native meadow” in the Northwest, and Philly once again cited as excellent biking city > more

Before The Bro Bar: Unboxing The Former Home Of Finnegan's Wake

Before The Bro Bar: Unboxing The Former Home Of Finnegan’s Wake

March 30, 2015  |  The Shadow Knows

Finnegan's Wake, the infamous Irish pub at 2nd and Spring Garden, closed its doors last summer after a contract for selling the building fell through. The former box and casket factory now sits vacant and off the market. The Shadow saddles up to the bar to give us the building's industrious background > more

The Industrial Bones Of South Philadelphia

The Industrial Bones Of South Philadelphia

March 27, 2015  |  Vantage

Think of Pier 70 and picture of the many many shopping options, from Walmart and Home Depot to Superfresh and AC Moore. But think of it a century ago for a totally different picture of industrial South Philadelphia. Theresa Everline tells the story of Baugh & Sons, a bygone major fertilizer company on the riverfront > more

The Prognosticating Developers

The Prognosticating Developers

March 27, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Three ascendent ZIPs and their developers, Temple to lead the effort in environmental cleanup of Kensington, Council approves Squilla's UEDs, and checking up with Rodin Square > more

Past & Future On Chestnut's 700 Block

Past & Future On Chestnut’s 700 Block

March 26, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Four commercial properties to be nominated for historical designation, a 32-story apartment tower planned for 7th & Chestnut, and Philly's population ever so slightly increases > more

Difficulty Ahead In Preserving Socioeconomic Diversity For Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Difficulty Ahead In Preserving Socioeconomic Diversity For Gentrifying Neighborhoods

March 25, 2015  |  Morning Blend

What the data suggests for the future of economic equality in Philadelphia, Tinicum approves PHL runway expansion plans, food trucks push for less restrictive municipal regulations, and Clark urges Archdiocese to refrain from demolishing Fishtown church just yet > more