Two dozen sites in East Falls are recognized historic sites, appearing in the National or Register of Historic Places, or having a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker. Read about them here.
Note: For many sites, nomination documents are available. These are PDF files, up to about 10 Meg in size.
3631 Indian Queen Lane [Click here for map]
The Falls of Schuylkill Baptist Church was formally constituted on Thursday, June 7, 1838 with 10 members. For the first 13 years the group met at the Old Academy. In 1851 the foundation for the church at 3631 Indian Queen Lane was laid. On December 5,1852, the entire completed building was formally dedicated for worship. The new part of the church facing Midvale Avenue was dedicated on December 12, 1929. The parsonage on Indian Queen Lane was loaned to the church by Doctor Horace Evans. About 1837 he had the third floor added. At his passing, the parsonage was willed to the church. The Reverend Mark R. Watkinson, the first regular appointed pastor of the church was responsible for the having the religious motto, “In God We Trust” placed on our currency. The original church was designed in a classical style with a Romanesque entrance and elaborate steeple. It is now much altered.
For more photods, see: eastfallshistoricalsociety.org/churches
3667 Midvale Avenue [click here for map]
Irish Catholics of the Falls of Schuylkill were able to lay a cornerstone for the first St. Bridget’s Church (sometimes termed “St. Bridget”) in 1853. It stood on Stanton Street (formerly James Street). A stone school building, extant, was completed in 1888 adjoining that church. For the growing congregation, an immense Gothic St. Bridget’s was completed in 1927, one of the last large stone churches built in Philadelphia, and the old building was demolished. The notable church architect George Lovatt created the design for the new building, which features a dominant central light tower, with octagonal secondary towers and a large pointed leaded glass window on the south façade of the nave, facing Midvale Avenue. A rectory and convent complete the campus. It continues to serve the Catholic community (2020) and is a towering and much valued presence along Midvale Avenue.
Click here for St Bridget Church Clio Report via CRGIS (pdf).
For more photos, see: eastfallshistoricalsociety.org/churches
3300 Henry Avenue [click here for map]National Register of Historic Places; Pennsylvania Historical Marker
The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania was opened in 1850 in a small building on Arch Street as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania. It was the first school in the world established to offer to women the then full medical course and the M.D. It moved to a site near Girard College in 1875, and then to East Falls in 1930 (3300 Henry Avenue), after it acquired the Abbottsford estate and built a colonial revival structure that housed both the College and its hospital. The well-known firm Ritter and Shay were the architects. WMCP admitted men to the MD classes in 1970 and became Medical College of Pennsylvania. MCP became known especially for educational innovation, several areas of research, and a harmonious ethos. It is one of the two antecedent schools of the Current Drexel University College of Medicine. The complex expanded over the decades and now, as Falls Center, is home to several healthcare related activities, apartments, and businesses. Among the expansions is the 1952 former nursing school building by Elizabeth Fleisher and Gabriel Rother in the “mid-century modern” or International Style.”
Click here for National Register of Historic Places nomination.
The Falls Bridge was built in 1895 to be strong and heavy, because predecessors going back to the early nineteenth century repeatedly were blown or washed away. A proposed upper deck was never implemented: it was intended to connect the high grounds on both sides of the Schuylkill and to support a streetcar line. Although we think of the Bridge as connecting the Schuylkill River drives, a crossing at Falls of Schuylkill did more: it served as a conduit of goods and people from Philadelphia, Germantown, and the Falls to industry on the west bank, and well beyond to the west. The Bridge is 540 feet long in three spans and 40 feet wide. It is a modified Pratt “Through Truss” designed by city engineer George Webster, and built by Filbert, Porter and Company.
3544 Indian Queen Lane [click here for map]
One of the oldest structures in East Falls, the Old Academy was built in 1819 after a group of residents came together to raise funds through subscription to establish a facility which could serve both as a school and site for religious observation. The land was donated by William Moore Smith, son of Provost Smith of the “Octagon House” once on Indian Queen Lane. Most of the East Falls congregations used the Academy until able to raise their own houses, and it served as a school through much of the nineteenth century. In addition, it housed our branch library for some years, and housed lectures and entertainments. In 1932, the trustees granted use of the building to the Moment Musical Club, as of then the Old Academy Players, who have used and cared for the structure ever since. As built, it has some features of the Federal style (the semicircular window, the cupola), but might justly be termed as solidly vernacular.
3624 Conrad Street [Click here for map]
National Register of Historic Places
Thomas Mifflin School located at 3624 Conrad Street is part of the School District of Philadelphia. It was added to the US National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1988. The building was designed by architect Irwin T. Catharineand built in 1936 by John McShain, Inc. Catharine trained at Drexel and designed numerous Philadelphia public schools and the Board of Education Administration Building. Thomas Mifflin School is a 2 ½ story, “L” shaped, brick building on a raised basement in the Colonial Revival style. Additions were built in 1966 and 1968. It features a large brick and wood clock tower, gable roof, and rounded gables. The school was named for American merchant and first governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas Mifflin.