Woodland Terrace (501-519, 500-520 Woodland Terace) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2007, The Gombach Group. Photos are from the Historic American Buildings Survey collection (HABS PA-1647, 1973, Jack E. Boucher, photographer)
Woodland Terrace was originally comprised of ten two-family semi-detached dwellings, five on either side of the street, which is only one block in length. Although the houses are not identical, they are very similar and are evidently derivatives of the same plan.
Typically the houses are three-story stone or stucco Italianate suburban "villas" with wooden verandas, wide eaves and bracketed cornices. Second floor windows are capped with bracketed shallow hoods, while the third story windows are pairs of narrow double arches. There is usually a belt course between the second and third stories.
Subtle differences in each house can be noted in the several different patterns of brackets, the occasional squat tower as on 501 and 510, and a second story tripartite window opening onto a porch roof deck on 501.
At present Woodland Terrace is in good condition, although none of the houses is unaltered. Several of the houses have been converted to apartments; others have had their porches removed or fenestration changed. However, the essential character of the terrace has been preserved.
Woodland Terrace was designed by Samuel Sloan in 1861 and built by Charles M.S. Leslie, a speculative builder. Sloan was a major figure in American architecture and is remembered chiefly for his many hospitals, asylums, and Philadelphia schools, but is perhaps most widely known as the designer of "Longwood," an octagonal 'folly; in Natchez, Mississippi. Sloane edited the Architectural Review and Builders Journal and wrote several builders' guides, among them Homestead Architecture (1861) and The Model Architect (1862).
During the last half of the 1850s, Sloan designed many "terraces" for speculative builders in West Philadelphia. The majority of housing commissioned by speculators for sites in West Philadelphia was made up of two-family, semi-detached dwellings like those of Woodland Terrace. However, some of the terraces had areas entirely reserved for 'mansions' which were dispersed through the rows of 'double' villas to relieve their monotony. As late as 1955, many examples of Sloan-designed speculative developments were extant in the West Philadelphia area. However, in recent years the growth of the University of Pennsylvania has spelled their doom.
For many years the prominent Philadelphia architect Paul M. Cret owned and occupied 516 Woodland Terrace.
Woodland Terrace is a charming block of Italianate houses, a quiet tree-lined street which still retains its Victorian character. It is one of two remaining "terraces" of speculative houses (the other being Hamilton Terrace, also designed by Sloan) built during the boom period of West Philadelphia's development.
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