About This Image
Interestingly, Frederick De Bourg Richards also took an early image of this area in 1859, but this photo by Newell is frankly a much more interesting image with the line up of carriages and group of people standing in front of the buildings. This is a view looking east on the 400 block of Library Street. Shows the office building of Howell Evans, card and fancy printer, built 1855 after the designs of J. & A. Ferguson (400-404 Library); Charles Wartkin, Customs Brokers (408 Library); William Jack, carriage repository (410 Library); and the public hall, Military Hall, the former arsenal building, built 1810 (412 Library). In the Richards image Isaiah Bryan's Our House hotel was advertised on the facing building wall. Bryan had bought the building in 1858. Here that ad is gone, so either this images was taken prior to 1859 or it was done after that date. In May of 1861, just a month after the start of the Civil War, Bryan joined the 18th Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania and was appointed 1st Lieutenant. He was sent to help protect Baltimore from the Rebels. After his three-month enlistment was up, he returned home. He re-enlisted on March 20, 1862 and was appointed Captain in the 99th Infantry. He died at age 47 on February 4, 1864 from a bleeding ulcer. He was given a military funeral at the "Our House" Hotel, which he no longer owned. The brick building must have been repainted/refinished just after Bryan had left for his military service. An 1861 date seems mostly likely when this happened, and matches similar material in the album from the 1860-61 period.
Born in NJ in 1822, Robert Newell, the prominent Philadelphia commercial photographer operated a studio from circa 1855 to 1900. His firm, which originally specialized in portraiture, later focused on "Artistic Business and Landscape Photographs" and was reorganized as R. Newell & Son circa 1872.
Newell recorded important events in Philadelphia, such as the 1864 Great Central Fair for the U.S. Sanitary Commission. and commercial, residential and ecclesiastical buildings throughout the city. In 1876, the studio (Robert and Henry Newell) issued a series of six viewbooks under the title "Old Landmarks & Relics of Philadelphia."
Newell also produced series of stereographs during the 1860s depicting commercial streets, the volunteer fire companies, and views of Fairmount Park and local cemeteries, as well as invented acid proof photographic ware in the 1870s.
He died in 1897.
Provenance: personal scrap album of 19th-century photographer and publisher Robert Newell; Kean Archives.
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Medium Salt print from wet plate negative
Photo Date 1861c Print Date 1861c
Dimensions 9-1/2 x 7-1/2 in. (241 x 191 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)