241 S 3rd Street

Francesca Russello Ammon

This is one of a row of twelve 3-story, 2-bay, 20 feet-wide contemporary brick row houses designed by I. M. Pei in 1962, stretching from 233 to 255 S 3rd Street. The full complex of 37 buildings includes three other rows of houses—at 232-254 Philip Place, 284-292 St. James Place, and 281-293 Locust Street—all arranged around a central courtyard for parking. These townhouses complement the three neighboring high-rises of Society Hill Towers that Pei also designed. Webb and Knapp was the developer.

This development is one of several examples of relatively larger-scale new construction, compared to single-property infill at other locations throughout the renewed neighborhood. With their Flemish bond brick and arched doorways, yet modern style, the row houses connect both old and new design in Society Hill.

Prior to urban renewal, the area just south of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was occupied by several light industrial uses—including PenLo Cigar Company, Yellow Cab Company Garage, Okie Ink Company, and Lockwood Box Company—as well as mixed-use properties.

Current residents Kevin Yoder and Harvey Hurdle purchased the property in 2007, having previously lived in a restored row house on the other side of S 3rd Street. They were drawn to the house, in part, by the relative abundance of original elements from the 1960s era. Since Yoder is an architect, he upgraded the property, but while respecting the original design. In a Curbed Philadelphia article from 2017 he noted, “A lot of what I do is clean up utilitarian elements that aren’t ideal, either relocating or disguising them.”