Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One Hundred Years

I grew up in the heart of Northern Jersey Suburbia.

The town of Randolph essentially didn't exist until the 1970s- it was all farmland before then- and even now is 95% residential subdivisions, spiraling off into the hills. Because of this, I am acutely aware of the abundance of old buildings in this city, ones that date back a hundred years or beyond. Old schools and churches that would be the centerpiece of an entire small town are found around nearly every corner, hidden away without fanfare. For proof, I have to look no further than literally out my front door, to the St. Anthony's Senior Center.

This multi-story monument is a great example of what can be accomplished using only brick. It's like the decorative Philly rowhomes of old, writ large. Sadly, it's hard to find much (any) information about the building- all I know is that it had at least one previous life, as a parochial school in the early 20th century. Even this I only know because it's actually part of the building.

A large and almost empty parking lot also points to a busier past, but for now, it is a quiet retirement community. Thankfully, the surrounding yard is immaculately maintained, and shows no signs of neglect, even though the buildings managers don't even see fit to mention the property on their web site.
There are no pictures of St. Anthony's on Philly History. That's probably OK, as I can't imagine it looking much different- you'd have to look at tree sizes to see a difference. Still, the entire estate is in wonderful shape, and looks like it could easily last for another century.

As you read, enjoy a little music from our biggest Philly band, Dr. Dog:

Check out the comments for some more great information. Apparently, the school was a part of the St. Anthony's Parish, which was located in what is now St. Matthew's Baptist Church.


  1. Some stuff for you from the Athenaeum's Philadelphia Architects and Buildings project ( http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/ )

    It was entered into the National Register in 1992. Here's data from the PHMC database.

    Saint Anthony De Padua Paris High School

    Built: c. 1897

    Architect: Watson, Frank R.
    Architectural Style: Mid-19th Century, Romanesque

    Address: 2317-2333 Carpenter St.
    Municipality: Philadelphia City, Philadelphia County

    National Register Status: Listed
    National Register Control Number: 92000400
    Resource Category: Building
    Approximate Number of Resources: 1

    Historical Function: Religion--Church School

    Foundation Material: Granite
    Roof Material: Asphalt
    Exterior Wall Materials: Brick
    Other Materials: Metal

    Key Number: 052993
    Inventory Identification Number: 52899
    Survey Code: 101-047-21600-02317
    PHMC Administrative Actions:
    Date Action
    04/04/2002 Date Record Changed
    03/02/1990 HRSF/Nom. Req. Received
    01/29/1991 NR Nom. 1st Submission
    07/08/1991 NR Nom. 1st Submission
    11/08/1991 NR Nom. 1st Submission
    05/11/1990 Eligible
    02/19/1991 NR Return
    03/10/1992 Board Approved
    03/20/1992 Sent to NPS
    05/07/1992 NR Listed

    I think the large parking lot was constructed when the building was repurposed, around the time of the closing of St. Anthony's Church at Grays Ferry and Fitzwater Street. Prior to that, the little houses on Montrose and Bonsall Streets were cheek-by-jowl with the school -- labeled as RC School in this screengrab from a 1910 Bromley Atlas:


    You can browse a lot of historical maps and learn about our neighborhood's past (or that of any other neighborhood, for that matter) at this site, also an Athenaeum project:


    Those Athenaeum folks are mighty clever.

  2. Follow-up to my own post: a poster on Philadelphia Speaks notes two errors in the PAB data: St. Anthony's was an elementary parish school, not a Paris high school. The same poster linked to a page on the Archdiocese web site noting that the school closed in 1986:

    Mass for St. Anthony's