Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oaklands - the Overington Family House

At the request of Mrs. Garvey, who lives across the street from Overington Park, I've taken the time to look at my pictures for glimpses of Oaklands, the house my ancestors lived in on that property. According to Brian H. Harris's book on Frankford (a neighborhood of Philadelphia) for the Images of America series, the house was built in 1847 for William Overington, my 4x-great-grandfather and the first of the Overingtons to come to America. The earliest map I have found is from 1849 and clearly names the 37-acre property "Oaklands" under the ownership of W. Overington.


On later maps the buildings' footprints are shown more clearly - probably more accurately, as they are in different places - and the property has visibly shrunk as parcels were sold off. On this map from 1920 (note: rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise from the one above), you can see that Allen Street has been renamed Overington Street. There is also a semi-circular drive approaching the back of the house from Pilling Street. Earlier maps show an L-shaped drive that came off Leiper Street to the front of the house. In fact, the house's address was 4606 Leiper Street. The other visible (square) building on the property is the stable. 


There are not too many pictures of the house itself. The earliest I've ever seen is in Harris's book. I have reproduced it here, hopefully not in violation of copyright. I assume that it must be an early photograph because the trees around the house appear quite young, and in later photos the columns on the porch are white.


Here is a picture I had of the house, showing the driveway up to the front. It is probably not much later than the one above, based again on the trees and the appearance of the porch.


And here is one we've had hanging on our wall for years. On the back it lists all the babies that were born in the house, ending with my grandmother's uncle William Overington III in 1910. My grandmother wasn't born in the house but she was the last child to be raised there.


Here is a much later photograph showing the drive off Pilling Street, visible in the second map:


And here are two more pictures of the front of the house. Apparently the driveway remained in the front but does not appear to be paved, which may be why it was not drawn onto later maps.



This picture is from the "big snow" one year:


A much earlier photograph of my grandmother's grandmother and her sister on the porch of the house, showing the doorway:


This photo appears to be of some kind of theater group but in any case it's a better angle to show the porch and doorway:


Here my grandmother is a baby, being held by her mother on the porch (ca. 1925-26):



And finally, my grandmother's mother as a girl at the pump by the stable. This is the only photograph I know of that has the stable in it.


I apologize for all the time-skipping in this post but I thought this arrangement would be best for showing the house.

Oaklands was in disrepair by the time my grandmother came along. I am not sure when it happened, but I suspect it was in the 1930s that the property was sold to the city or some such body, which subsequently leveled the house and turned the lot into Overington Park.

19 comments:

  1. Could you tell me if William Overington is buried in Philadelphia?

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  2. William Overington the first is buried at Trinity Church Oxford in Philadelphia. His father John, and son Thomas are also buried there. I don't know where William Jr. (actually William I's grandson) is buried or if he was buried at all. The only thing I know is that his daughter Poppy donated her body to science when she died.

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  3. You might find it interesting to read the following discussion thread on the Frankford Gazette about the Overington Mansion:

    http://frankford.yuku.com/topic/383/Overington-Mansion

    Joseph Garvey

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  4. Hi Sandy

    I have really enjoyed reading the information and looking through the pictures you have put together regarding the Overington family and there estate in Philadelphia.
    I am glad the name is now related with such a good cause and helping people, it must of taken you a while to put it all together, so well done.

    I hope you are well

    Yours

    Mark Overington UK
    markovs4@aol.com

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  5. This is some good work, congrats!!!

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  6. Thank you, Brian! I find the research skills I've learned as an archaeology student and those I've learned as a family historian tend to overlap in interesting ways. Going through old photos is one of the ways in which this happens. It is very special to me that for this project, the photos I combed through are my own family's. It's amazing that other people are as interested in Oaklands as I am!

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  7. Well you are lucky to be a member of one of the predominant Frankford families. Have you reached out to the Historical Society of Frankford at all? I am actually lucky to have had a family that kept a lot of pictures and had plenty of stories to pass on. But the 'Net really got me in touch with a lot of cousins. Genealogy for me actually led into historical research of other items. I actually use to walk by Overington Park every day and would wonder what it would be like spending a day in the neighborhood from 1880-1920.

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    1. Sandi this site is awesome! Would like to know more about the Overington's from Frankford. Brian, Your "Frankford" book is awesome. Last year my family and I drove around Frankford to compare some of the photo's in your book to see what is still standing. I wish you had more pic's of the Overington estate. In one of your photo's you made a mistake in your book you said it was the Overington mansion when in fact it was the Sorensen mansion. ( leiper street looking north)

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    2. Thanks!!! I'll have to eye that up. Most of the captions were well recorded on the photo collection at the Historical Society of Frankford. People sure don't keep records like they use to.

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    3. I too thought that was the Sorensen Mansion now Sorensen Arm's apartment complex. Sorensen Mansion once stood at Overington street and Leiper street next to the Robert's house. Hey Brian cool book! It bring back a lot of memory's for my family. We couldn't put it down when we first got it. Talk about coffee table book. I wish someone would be interested in doing something on Frankford industrial bldgs and mill owners such as Horrocks, Pilling, etc. Joseph Garvey

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  8. Hi Sandi! I went to the Frankford Historical Society and I purchased about six photo's. I spent the afternoon looking threw pictures and newspapers. Pretty neat. You should check it out like Brian said! One was of William the 1st and I believe William jr. Some of the house and property. Maybe when the weather breaks we could check out the Historical Society. Keep up the good work. Joseph Garvey ctgarvey@aol.com

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    1. That sounds amazing! Do you have to make an appointment or anything? I'd like to head out there and check it out sometime if I can find the time.

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  9. Hi Sandi, I believe they have events in the winter every month. You can look it up. I'm only interested in the Overington's and the park. I became friends with the librarian and she lets me go threw pic's and stuff. I got the pic's in black frames hanging in my house. If interested I will try to post pic's. Joseph

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  10. Give them a call ahead of time and see if you can meet there or let them know you will be at an event. As far as a next book (from anyone) I pitched the Frankford Yellow Jackets to Arcadia since they have a series on sports. But they didn't think the Yellow Jackets were a "big enough name" to sell. They are only the 1926 NFL champs and Green Bays first big Thanksgiving day rival.

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  11. Didn't Howard Barnes write a book on the Yellow Jackets? not Arcadia?

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  12. Barnes did, more of a scrapbook, but plenty of information. I would have liked to see one that Arcadia has for the Packers and other teams. Maybe one day.

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  13. Someone's a Packer fan? Can you believe Eli and the Giants! I'm going to Barnes and Noble to check out some of Arcadia's NFL books.

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  14. sandi, what a beautiful job you have done. my name is jim flood and i am a maritime artist ( paintings of ships . comm) and I was born in 1944 and grew up across the street at 4630 Pilling St. As a small boy I used to play all over the estate which by that time was fairly over grown with weeds and various plants and such. I remember looking through the stable window at the carriage and antique auto that were housed there in wonderment. I always wondered about who the people were that lived there - what their story was. I wondered how the property had come to such a sad pass, I probably was around 5 at the time. I remember watching in horror when they came in around 1952 with their equipment and knocked the whole lot down. In fact I have a few old pictures of them doing so. I remember we used to play in the playground they replaced it with. I am so glad to finally have the information you have so ably provided and congratulate your efforts.

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    1. I'd love to see some photos from the time they tore down the house (sad as it is). My email address is nameless.ship@gmail.com if you'd like to contact me that way.

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