Blocks We Love: 700 North Bodine

Tucked away amongst the bustling commercial corridors, looming new condos, and new construction in progress on just about every street, one could easily miss the 700 block of North Bodine Street, an iconic mainstay of historic Northern Liberties.

 

Originally known as Brook Street, this narrow, secondary street was built upon a former streambed. During a period of expansion in the early 1800s, many streams were filled in to allow for more development in the area.

 

Today, while much of the formerly vacant land in Northern Liberties explodes into large, stylistically divergent new construction houses and condo buildings, Bodine Street harkens back to the style of 18th and 19th century Philadelphia.

 

 

Comparable to Old City’s famous Elfreth’s Alley, Bodine Street contains, in its short stretch, all of the charm that one associates with historic Philadelphia: classic narrow, three story homes with star bolts and anchor plates, colorful shutters, intact cornices, flags, and flower boxes. There is even a converted carriage house on the block, done up in a delightful pale yellow paint.

 

Bookending the block on the north end is an early 19th century neoclassical church, built by the architect William Strickland in 1815. Strickland, while not a Philadelphia native, is largely remembered for his numerous projects across the city. The church was originally built as St. John’s Episcopal, but, when the early 20th century saw high numbers of Romanian immigrants flocking to the neighborhood, the church split to serve two congregations.

 

Eventually, the Romanian cohort assumed full responsibility of the church, and in 1972 it became the Holy Trinity Roman Orthodox Church. This changeover is emblematic of how historic architecture can adapt and continue to serve changing neighborhoods and changing times in Philadelphia.

 

Rounding out the southern end of the block is another staple of the city’s past – a pedestrian-only residential court. Landing between Bodine and Third Streets, this off-road court consists of a series of trinity style homes.

 

 

If any block contains the imagery of historic Philadelphia most completely, it just might be this one. While one among many in a maze of tiny side streets and alleyways passing through the city’s larger blocks, we think Bodine Street really packs a punch when it comes to this city’s renowned architectural detail.