Long before there was a McIlhenny Mansion, there was Park Gate. Before he moved to Rittenhouse Square, Henry Plumer McIlhenny lived in his family’s home on Lincoln Drive, where Wayne Avenue and Johnson Street converge and where Germantown and Mount Airy blur.
Built in 1910 by John D. McIlhenny, Henry’s father, the home is called Park Gate for the twin stone gates marking this section of the city’s entrance to Wissahickon Valley Park. McIlhenny sold the house to Fredric Mann after moving to Rittenhouse Square in 1950. The School District of Philadelphia bought it from Mann in 1954, and two years later built the Lingelbach Elementary School on the grounds next to the house.
Nearly sixty years later, the School District has no need for Park Gate. Two years ago, Patrick Moran filed an application to place it on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places; the Historical Commission requested revisions. Currently, the house is vacant and in significant disrepair.