Girard Estate Philadelphia

Girard Estate in Philadelphia

‍In the heart of South Philadelphia sits an area steeped in history and notable for its distinctive architectural styles.  Girard Estate, was named after Stephen Girard, one of the wealthiest men in America in the early 19th century. This neighborhood is a testament to this philanthropist’s lasting impact, blending Philadelphia’s rich past with its vibrant present. Let’s dig deeper into what makes Girard Estate a remarkable place to live and visit.

The History of Girard Estate

Stephen Girard, a prominent banker, and philanthropist, initially acquired the land that would become the Girard Estate. His country home, named “Gentilhommiere,” sat on this plot in what was then known as Passyunk Township of Philadelphia County. Girard’s vast wealth, amassed from his successful endeavors in banking and shipping, placed him as one of the richest men in the United States at the time of his death in 1831.

Interestingly, Girard’s will stipulated that his estate was not to be sold. To honor this, the Board of City Trusts, the trustee of Girard Estate, devised a unique solution: they constructed 481 rental homes on the property. These homes, built between 1906 and 1916, were designed by architects John and James Windrim. The Windrims’ designs incorporated a variety of architectural styles, including Bungalow, Prairie, Mission, Jacobean Revival, and Colonial Revival, providing a stark contrast to the typical South Philadelphia row homes.

In 1950, the city received permission to sell these homes to private owners. Within two years, all the houses were sold, marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for the area.

The Neighborhood in Popular Culture

Girard Estate has not only made its mark in the annals of Philadelphia’s history but also in the world of popular culture. In 1979, the neighborhood was chosen as a filming location for “Rocky II.” The film crew spent a week shooting scenes on the 2300 block of S. Lambert Street.

The Neighborhood Today

Today, Girard Estate is a predominantly Italian American neighborhood, with a smaller Irish population. It continues to stand out for its unique architectural styles and its rich history. The semi-detached homes, each a piece of art in its own right, add a distinctive charm to the neighborhood.

Boundaries of Girard Estate

The neighborhood is bounded by South 22nd Street to the west and South 17th Street to the east. The southern boundary is the south side of Shunk Street. The northern boundary, however, is irregular, stretching from the north side of Porter Street between South 17th Street and South 21st Street, along the east side of South 21st Street to West Passyunk Avenue, and then along the south side of West Passyunk Avenue to its northwestern tip at South 22nd Street.

Girard Estate Philadelphia

Points of Interest in Girard Estate

The area is home to several points of interest. These include Stephen Girard Park, Girard Estate Historic District, and the annual Vendemmia Festival, a local celebration of Italian culture and tradition. The Girard Estate Neighborhood Association also plays a crucial role in organizing community events and maintaining the neighborhood’s historic charm.

Education in Girard Estate

The Philadelphia School District operates a number of public schools in the neighborhood. These include the Girard Academic Music Program, Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School, Stephen Girard Elementary School, and St. Monica School. These institutions provide quality education to the neighborhood’s younger residents.

Public Transportation

The neighborhood enjoys convenient access to public transportation, with SEPTA’s Bus Route 7 and the Broad Street Line serving the area.

Girard Estate is a neighborhood that effortlessly marries history with modern living. The distinctive architecture of the houses, the rich history of the neighborhood, and the vibrant community culture make it a gem in South Philadelphia. Whether you’re considering moving there or just planning a visit, this great Philadelphia neighborhood is a place that’s worth your time.