Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The present site of the Curtis Building in center city Philadelphia, built in 1910 for The Curtis Publishing Company, occupies the block bound by Walnut and Sansom Streets, and South 6th and South 7th Streets. This location was originally owned by William Penn's Secretary, James Logan (1674-1751), who bequeathed it to his son, James Logan, Jr. (1728-1803) when the plot was primarily open fields and meadow.
On December 31, 1794, James Logan, Jr., sold the entire plot for 7,000 pounds to merchant John Swanwick (1759-1798). Over subsequent years, Swanwick subdivided this land and sold off parcels to various people, which resulted in a cycle of subdivision, sale, and resale. Some of the earliest transfers of land went to Mordecai Lewis (1749-1799), Hannah Holland, John Fries (1744-1824), and William Sansom (1763-1840). Deeds changed hands throughout the nineteenth century for plots of various sizes and for both residential and business purposes. Holders of deeds included notable figures in American and Philadelphia history, including artist Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860); publisher Matthew Carey (1760-1839); bookseller Samuel Bradford (1776-1837); Congressman Benjamin Say (1755-1813); diplomat William Short (1759-1849); and inventor, engineer, and lawyer, Joseph Dulles (1755-1818).
Cyrus H. K. Curtis (1850-1933) founded The Curtis Publishing Company in 1891, and it became one of the most successful publishing houses by the turn of the 20th century. Curtis began buying lots in 1900 and within the decade had built a headquarters and printing plant for his thriving business. The Curtis building was sold in 1968, but remains standing on the same footprint of land bequeathed by James Logan to his son in 1751.
A note on street names:
Before 1858, Sansom Street was known as George Street.
Until approximately the mid-1800's, South 6th and 7th Streets were known as Delaware 6th and 7th Streets, as were their neighboring numbered streets.
This collection consists of 107 land deeds or indentures, and 23 other records related to real estate transactions, such as mortgages, writsm and surveys. All of the records relate to the sale, purchase, or transfer of property within the same Philadelphia city block, bounded by South 6th and South 7th Streets and Sansom and Walnut Streets, from 1794 to 1908. The majority are handwritten on vellum and are largely in good condition. The oldest document is an indenture or land deed for the entire plot from James Logan, Sr. to his son, James Logan, Jr. on December 31, 1794. The most recent document is a survey of the same plot, likely made for the Curtis Publishing Company by the City of Philadelphia. Materials arranged chronologically.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kenneth Cleary
- Finding Aid Date
- August 16, 2023
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.