One of Philly’s Oldest Homes, Just Blocks from the Liberty Bell

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The Declaration of Independence was decades in the future when this landmark Philadelphia home was built. Located at No. 139 Elfreth’s Alley – the oldest continuously occupied residential street in America – this well-preserved treasure is the first house on the city’s most historic block.

Though most sources claim the home is circa 1703, Elfreth’s Alley Association President Neil Frauenglass disputes the age by a few years according to Philly Magazine. Association records show that the 384-square-feet lot where 139 sits was purchased in 1706, and home building on the famous historical block didn’t begin until 1724.

Nevertheless, 139 is certifiably old. It was listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1956 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, and the entire block was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Even more mind-boggling, the house is older than the Liberty Bell and all the National Monuments that are within walking distance.

Since the home is situated in the mainstream of American history, it’s ideal for a historic house collector or an Airbnb model. Old City not only attracts a half-million tourists each year, but the house is also a favorite on annual home tours.

Current owners have painstakingly maintained the 912-square-feet, two-bedroom, one bath house for the past 40 years. Besides adding central air conditioning, new electric, and a modern kitchen and bath, they have preserved the original architecture and historic character.

Between the three-story brick façade, red door and shutters, and flagstone sidewalk, the home has a stunning early 18th-century curb appeal from the cobblestone street. In addition to trinity spiral stairs, antique fireplaces, and rare molding and plasterwork, the interior includes exposed brick and stone walls and beamed ceilings in some rooms.

Along with nearby historic attractions, the home is also steps from shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, the waterfront, and much more.

No. 139 Elfreth’s Alley is represented by Ryan McManus with Compass Pennsylvania, LLC and offered for sale in a private placement. The listing price is $1.2 million. Click here to see more photos.

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  1. Rabbi Hedda LaCasa says

    The Philly Trinity, also known as a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost house, is prevalent throughout the Center City neighborhoods of The City of Brotherly Love. The archetype is comprised of one room per storey, joined by steep winding stairs which prove treacherous even for felines.

    One enters into a square parlor with a paneled fireplace wall, ascends carefully to a bedroom within which a bathroom has been added, and climbs cautiously higher to a second bedroom. There are no hallways, and the dine-in kitchen is within the basement.

    Picturesque Trinity rows line quiet narrow lanes within the most congested city blocks, and walking from a noisy vehicular thoroughfare immediately onto a tranquil alley is a tiny slice of heaven. However, Elfreth’s Alley is a very busy pedestrian street, and house loving tourists continuously peep into the parlor windows of the private homes on this lane. (I stand accused!)

    Equally delightful, if not quite as aged Trinities on peaceful alleys within the Northern Liberties, Queens Village, Old City, Society Hill, and Gayborhood neighborhoods may be purchased for $800,000.