Henry Albertson Historic District
The Henry Albertson Subdivision was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Text below was adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The historic district is roughly bounded by North Lansdowne Avenue, Clover Avenue, Wycombe Avenue, Price Avenue, Stewart Avenue, and Balfour Circle.
The Henry Albertson Subdivision Historic District is a concentration of well-preserved single and twin houses constructed circa 1884 to 1940 on parts of five blocks in Lansdowne Borough, Delaware County, approximately five miles southwest of Philadelphia. The boundaries of the district correspond to the 1891 subdivision of the Henry Albertson estate and include forty-three contiguous lots fronting East Greenwood Avenue, North Lansdowne Avenue, Highland Avenue, Clover Avenue, Green Avenue, Wycombe Avenue (formerly Kenney's Lane), Price Avenue, and Stewart Avenue. Located north of the downtown area this district is composed of seventy-one houses built predominantly in the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival styles. All buildings retain their original domestic function, with the minor exception of a law office incorporated in a room of one house. Almost all buildings have stone first stories, wood frame upper stories, and wood porches. A few buildings are constructed of brick. Asphalt is the most predominant roofing material, followed by slate and wood shingles. The district is notable for being composed of houses with high integrity.
... (this) is an outstanding example of a small, late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century development. The district ... is a twenty-four acre tract that Albertson subdivided for development in the late 1880s.
In the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, the area composing the present Borough of Lansdowne was characterized by widely dispersed farms. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the community was a sparsely populated crossroads at Lansdowne Avenue (then Darby-Haverford Road) and Baltimore Pike. Development began slowly with the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad Company laying a single track through the area and constructing a station known as Darby Road Station in 1855 and the establishment of a post office twenty years later. By 1882, there were twenty buildings, and the population was less than 100.
Lansdowne's development began to accelerate in the 1880s. A distinct catalyst for this movement was the Pennsylvania Railroad's purchase of the rail line and their laying a second track and promoting residential construction. By the end of the decade, a description of the area from a Pennsylvania Railroad Company brochure states that the locality "offers some of the best sites for country residence to be found on the road. Almost a suburb of the city, its contiguity places it in immediate access, while in character it is thoroughly rural."
With the required transportation in place, real estate investors began to purchase large parcels of land to develop the area. Five prominent individuals who settled in the community in the late nineteenth century and then led residential developments are Henry Albertson, Home C. Stewart, Caspar Pennock, William H. Ryan, and John J. White. Henry Albertson and his wife Mary purchased twenty-four acres in 1883 and divided it into forty-three parcels, including the parcel upon which they built their own house in 1884. Circa 1887 Home C. Stewart resigned as treasurer of the Philadelphia Median & West Chester Railroad, and started to develop a section of farmland north of Baltimore Avenue and west of Lansdowne Avenue. Edward A. Price assisted Stewart in this venture, which resulted in a middle-class residential neighborhood known as Lansdowne Park. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Caspar Pennock owned eleven homes and a store in Lansdowne and his family were major land owners, developers, and florists in Lansdowne and the adjoining Upper Darby and Haverford Townships.
In 1892 the Higland Mutual Land Association, first managed by William H. Ryan, divided the Plumstead farm in the northeast section of the borough into 838 building lots. Some of Philadelphia attorney John J. White's residential projects north of Baltimore Avenue in the late nineteenth century include the John Bartram Farm, the Lorenzo D. Black Farm developed by the Wycombe Land Company, the Hibberd Farm, the Lobb Farm, and the William Albert Johnson Farm. The appearance of these subdivisions currently differs from the Henry Albertson Subdivision Historic District by either containing a large concentration of single style, such as eighty-one Queen Anne-style houses in the Lansdowne Park Historic District, by not retaining a predominance of original architectural details, or by having too many modern buildings, thus compromising the area's historic character.
School District: William Penn