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A large house with a lawn in front in Philadelphia. This is an old photograph and is tinted yellow and green. via Wikimedia Commons

Philly’s oldest historic buildings, mapped

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.

Today, Philly is in a state of constant flux. But while some streets and neighborhoods are unrecognizable from just five years ago, the city has managed to hold onto some of its oldest, most significant structures that date all the way back to the 17th century.

With some help from John Andrew Gallery’s book Philadelphia Architecture: A guide to the city, here are the 10 oldest historically significant buildings that are still standing in Philadelphia, from the oldest stone-built home to the oldest church in the state of Pennsylvania.

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1. Wynnestay

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1689

Just a few years after Philadelphia’s official founding, Dr. Thomas Wynne purchased 5,000 acres from William Penn and built a one-room farmhouse called Wynnestay. Its big claim to fame is that it is the oldest stone-built residential home in the state of Pennsylvania and thereby Philly. Today, the home includes an addition that was built in 1904.

The exterior of Wynnestay in Philadelphia. The farmhouse has a stone facade and is surrounded by trees. via Wikimedia Commons

2. Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

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916 S Swanson St
Philadelphia, PA

1698-1700

Before Philadelphia or Pennsylvania even existed, there was New Sweden, a Swedish colony established along the Delaware River in what is now South Philly. Gloria Dei Church (also known as Olde Swedes’) was a byproduct of the colony, and it is now the oldest church in the city and state—and the only remaining structure built by Swedish settlers.

The exterior of Gloria Dei Church Historic Site in Philadelphia. The facade is grey and white. There is a red brick path and a graveyard in front of the church. via Wikimedia Commons

3. Rittenhouse Homestead

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208 Lincoln Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19144

1707

The 1707 Rittenhouse Homestead actually dates back to 1690, when the namesake family established the first paper mill in British North America right along the Wissahickon Creek. The Rittenhouse’s eventually built up the area, creating the Rittenhouse Homestead that at one point featured 40 structures on 125 acres of land. The stone homes and buildings are now part of Fairmount Park.

An aerial view of the Rittenhouse Homestead. The exterior is stone and there is a sloped roof. via Wikimedia Commons

4. Old Trinity Church

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6901 Rising Sun Ave
Philadelphia, PA

1711

When Old Trinity Church was first established in 1698, Quakers met in a log house on the site. The current structure followed in 1711 and was built using red and black brick that was most likely imported from England. It’s now known as the Episcopal Trinity Oxford Church and remains one of the oldest churches in the U.S.

Old Trinity Church in Philadelphia. The facade is brick and there is a graveyard with tombstones and trees in front. via Wikimedia Commons

5. Letitia Street House

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3401 Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA

1713-15

Although it is now located in West Fairmount Park, the Letitia Street House was originally built on its namesake street along the Delaware River waterfront. Its connection to William Penn has since been refuted, but the brick home, laid in Flemish bond, is still one of the oldest buildings in the city and has since been restored by the city after falling into disrepair. In 2018, it received preservation award for the restoration project.

The exterior of Letitia Street House in Philadelphia. The facade is stone and there are multiple windows with shutters. This is an old black and white photograph. via Wikimedia Commons

6. Bel Air Estate

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1714-29

Bel Air is one of the early Georgian-style country seats that is rumored to have been built for Samuel Preston, one of Philly’s first mayors. Inside, the walls are covered in maple wood paneling. Today, Bel Air is located within FDR Park. 

The exterior of the Bel Air Estate in Philadelphia. The facade is brick and there are multiple windows. via Library of Congress

7. Elfreth's Alley

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1720

It’s no surprise that the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America is home to some of the oldest residences in the city. As the story goes, Elfreth’s Alley was created in 1703 by two owners who wanted to have a cartway to the rear of their respective lots. The oldest houses date back to 1720, and over the course of their long history have been home to craftsmen, bakers, and merchants.

The exterior of Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia. The buildings that line the street are brick with window shutters. This is an old black and white photograph. via Wikimedia Commons

8. Christ Church

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20 N American St
Philadelphia, PA

1727-44

Frequented by the likes of Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, and other key players in this country’s founding, Christ Church was modeled after the work of an English architect by the name of Sir Christopher Wren, who rebuilt dozens of churches in London after its Great Fire. The most prominent feature of Christ Church, its 196-foot-tall steeple, was not added to the structure until 1751-54. It would remain the tallest building in the city for the next 100 years.

The exterior of Christ Church in Philadelphia. The facade is red brick and there are trees in a courtyard in front. Courtesy of Shutterstock

9. Stenton Mansion

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4601 N 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19140

1728

Stenton Mansion is one of the finest examples of early Georgian architecture in Philadelphia and was built by fur trader and Quaker James Logan. John Andrew Gallery writes in his architecture guide, “[...] his manor house reflects the influence of Quaker plainness on the Georgian style, particularly in the restrained use of ornament.” Today it has been restored and functions as a house museum.

The exterior of Stenton Mansion in Philadelphia. The building has many windows. This is an old black and white photograph.

10. Michael Billmeyer House

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6505 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19119

c. 1730

Also known as the Bensell-Billmeyer House, this National Historic Landmark in Germantown is actually two homes under one roof. Hans George Bensell bought this property in 1727 and soon after built the two stone homes. Rumor has it that George Washington ordered the Battle of Germantown attack on the British-occupied Chew House from these very steps.

The exterior of the Michael Billmeyer House in Philadelphia. This is an old black and white photograph. via Library of Congress

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1. Wynnestay

Philadelphia, PA
The exterior of Wynnestay in Philadelphia. The farmhouse has a stone facade and is surrounded by trees. via Wikimedia Commons

1689

Just a few years after Philadelphia’s official founding, Dr. Thomas Wynne purchased 5,000 acres from William Penn and built a one-room farmhouse called Wynnestay. Its big claim to fame is that it is the oldest stone-built residential home in the state of Pennsylvania and thereby Philly. Today, the home includes an addition that was built in 1904.

2. Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

916 S Swanson St, Philadelphia, PA
The exterior of Gloria Dei Church Historic Site in Philadelphia. The facade is grey and white. There is a red brick path and a graveyard in front of the church. via Wikimedia Commons

1698-1700

Before Philadelphia or Pennsylvania even existed, there was New Sweden, a Swedish colony established along the Delaware River in what is now South Philly. Gloria Dei Church (also known as Olde Swedes’) was a byproduct of the colony, and it is now the oldest church in the city and state—and the only remaining structure built by Swedish settlers.

916 S Swanson St
Philadelphia, PA

3. Rittenhouse Homestead

208 Lincoln Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19144
An aerial view of the Rittenhouse Homestead. The exterior is stone and there is a sloped roof. via Wikimedia Commons

1707

The 1707 Rittenhouse Homestead actually dates back to 1690, when the namesake family established the first paper mill in British North America right along the Wissahickon Creek. The Rittenhouse’s eventually built up the area, creating the Rittenhouse Homestead that at one point featured 40 structures on 125 acres of land. The stone homes and buildings are now part of Fairmount Park.

208 Lincoln Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19144

4. Old Trinity Church

6901 Rising Sun Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Old Trinity Church in Philadelphia. The facade is brick and there is a graveyard with tombstones and trees in front. via Wikimedia Commons

1711

When Old Trinity Church was first established in 1698, Quakers met in a log house on the site. The current structure followed in 1711 and was built using red and black brick that was most likely imported from England. It’s now known as the Episcopal Trinity Oxford Church and remains one of the oldest churches in the U.S.

6901 Rising Sun Ave
Philadelphia, PA

5. Letitia Street House

3401 Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA
The exterior of Letitia Street House in Philadelphia. The facade is stone and there are multiple windows with shutters. This is an old black and white photograph. via Wikimedia Commons

1713-15

Although it is now located in West Fairmount Park, the Letitia Street House was originally built on its namesake street along the Delaware River waterfront. Its connection to William Penn has since been refuted, but the brick home, laid in Flemish bond, is still one of the oldest buildings in the city and has since been restored by the city after falling into disrepair. In 2018, it received preservation award for the restoration project.

3401 Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA

6. Bel Air Estate

Philadelphia, PA
The exterior of the Bel Air Estate in Philadelphia. The facade is brick and there are multiple windows. via Library of Congress

1714-29

Bel Air is one of the early Georgian-style country seats that is rumored to have been built for Samuel Preston, one of Philly’s first mayors. Inside, the walls are covered in maple wood paneling. Today, Bel Air is located within FDR Park. 

7. Elfreth's Alley

Pennsylvania
The exterior of Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia. The buildings that line the street are brick with window shutters. This is an old black and white photograph. via Wikimedia Commons

1720

It’s no surprise that the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America is home to some of the oldest residences in the city. As the story goes, Elfreth’s Alley was created in 1703 by two owners who wanted to have a cartway to the rear of their respective lots. The oldest houses date back to 1720, and over the course of their long history have been home to craftsmen, bakers, and merchants.

8. Christ Church

20 N American St, Philadelphia, PA
The exterior of Christ Church in Philadelphia. The facade is red brick and there are trees in a courtyard in front. Courtesy of Shutterstock

1727-44

Frequented by the likes of Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, and other key players in this country’s founding, Christ Church was modeled after the work of an English architect by the name of Sir Christopher Wren, who rebuilt dozens of churches in London after its Great Fire. The most prominent feature of Christ Church, its 196-foot-tall steeple, was not added to the structure until 1751-54. It would remain the tallest building in the city for the next 100 years.

20 N American St
Philadelphia, PA

9. Stenton Mansion

4601 N 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19140
The exterior of Stenton Mansion in Philadelphia. The building has many windows. This is an old black and white photograph.

1728

Stenton Mansion is one of the finest examples of early Georgian architecture in Philadelphia and was built by fur trader and Quaker James Logan. John Andrew Gallery writes in his architecture guide, “[...] his manor house reflects the influence of Quaker plainness on the Georgian style, particularly in the restrained use of ornament.” Today it has been restored and functions as a house museum.

4601 N 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19140

10. Michael Billmeyer House

6505 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19119
The exterior of the Michael Billmeyer House in Philadelphia. This is an old black and white photograph. via Library of Congress

c. 1730

Also known as the Bensell-Billmeyer House, this National Historic Landmark in Germantown is actually two homes under one roof. Hans George Bensell bought this property in 1727 and soon after built the two stone homes. Rumor has it that George Washington ordered the Battle of Germantown attack on the British-occupied Chew House from these very steps.

6505 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19119