The town of Frankford merged with Philadelphia in 1854, but the neighborhood has retained an enduring sense of its own identity. We’ll explore Frankford’s pugnacious personality by touring three special sites: the Garsed-Bromley Mansion, the Frankford Historical Society and St. Mark’s Church.
The Garsed-Bromley Mansion is a stately brownstone that was on the brink of being torn down until its recent purchase. Dubbed “Garsed’s Folly” by locals after it was built for textile mill owner John Garsed, and a folly it turned out to be: Garsed was soon forced to sell the building to his brother Richard, inventor of the steam powered loom. The mansion was converted into a YWCA in 1941, and it closed in 2009.
The Frankford Historical Society is one of Philadelphia’s true gems, almost the platonic ideal of a small historical society: it has a basement full of oddities, a meeting hall that looks like it might have hosted an Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debate and a library of rare books. What more could you want?
Then it’s on to St. Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church, a Gothic Revival beauty built in 1907 by one of its own parishioners, the noted ecclesiastical architect Frank Rushmore Watson. The church is graced with iron work by perhaps America’s premier metalsmith of the era, Samuel Yellin, (whose shop was in West Philadelphia), and stained glass that is considered among the finest examples of Nicholas D’Ascenzo’s work.