Bettering House - Philadelphia Almshouse

Historical Images of Philadelphia Philadelphiana
Bettering House - Philadelphia Almshouse

Item Info

Item No: pdcp00640
Title: Bettering House - Philadelphia Almshouse
Media Type: Engravings
Source: Print and Picture Collection

Located in Box: Allens Lane Art Center - Arcade Folder: Almshouses

Almshouse built 1766-67 between Spruce & Pine Streets and 10th & 11th Streets. Served as the new home of the Philadelphia Almshouse previously located at 3rd, 4th, Spruce & Pine Streets.

"The buildings were opened in October, 1767. The almshouse was laid out in the form of an L, one hundred and eighty feet by forty, two stories in height, joined by a turret thirty feet square, and four stories high. The house of employment was on the west side of the lot, running south from Spruce, fronting Eleventh Street, also in shape of an L, so that the entire range of buildings inclosed on three sides a quadrangular space. [...] A habit soon grew up among the people of calling this establishment "the Bettering-House," a title which in time became somewhat an epithet of contempt. Two hundred and eighty-four people were admitted into the almshouse in October, 1767, and in three months afterward the number had increased to three hundred and sixty-eight. The inmates of the house were soon put to work, and in it were made various kinds of goods, principally of wool, hemp, and flax."[1]

Philadelphia Almshouse relocated in 1835 to Blockley Township in West Philadelphia.

[ THE BETTERING HOUSE. | Almshouse, and House for the Relief and Employment of the Poor, between Spruce | and Pine and Tenth and Eleventh streets. | BUILT in 1766-'67. | From an Engraving executed about the year 1769. | DRAWN AND ENGRAVED FOR THE SUNDAY DISPATCH EXPRESSLY TO ILLUSTRATE | WESTCOTT''S "HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA." ]

[1] Scharf, J. T. & Westcott, t. (1884). History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, Volume 2. (Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co.) Pg. 1451.

Creation Year: ca. 1884
Geocode Latitude: Geocode Longitude:-75.159209
Geocode Latitude:39.945953