Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Winter 2023 issue of Extant, a publication of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.
Unlisted Philadelphia highlights interesting and significant Philadelphia buildings not yet listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. To learn more about the local designation process and how you can participate in nominating a building to the Philadelphia Register, visit the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s website for more information.
1307 Sansom Street
Location: 100 block of South 13th Street, west side
Architect: Amos W. Barnes, et al.
Built: Early 20th century
Over more than a century’s span, the neighborhood now known as Midtown Village, centered at 13th and Sansom Streets, has weathered and survived a series of urban real estate moguls. Witness to much transformation, the 100 block of South 13th Street maintains an invincible commercial spirit.
Tall, dark, and handsome, 307 Sansom Street dominates the intersection’s northwest corner. In 1904, speculator Felix Isman bought and demolished a low-rise retail structure and enlisted architect Amos W. Barnes to replace it with a narrow, six-story building distinguished by its brick facade, four sets of bay windows, and a arched cornice. Home to a tailor shop and suit store, the building joined a thriving block renowned for fine furriers and apparel shops. In the 1960s, South 13th Street took a seamier turn, and 1307 Sansom Street became a house of ill repute and later a check cashing store. But the block, also home to the countercultural Robin’s Bookstore and, by the 1980s, Philly’s vibrant Gayborhood, hung on despite decades of neglect under real estate baron and building code violator Sam Rappaport.
The dawn of the new century brought real estate visionary Tony Goldman, fresh from revitalizing Miami’s South Beach, to energize the street and its charming, early 20th century structures, turning 1307 Sansom Street into luxury lofts and establishing a retail and restaurant row at ground level. This block, preserving and celebrating eclectic architecture and lifestyles, deserves designation on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.