In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • Elizabeth Milroy (bio) and Randall F. Mason (bio)

The essays in this issue, large and small, are all over the map—purposefully. Our intention in editing this volume of PMHB is to provoke fellow researchers and readers to look anew at and think deeply about the built environments all around us. Acts of building shape our everyday lives (collectively and individually) by creating location and a sense of place. The histories of these structures and places guide the creation of new environments, both inspiring and tempering contemporary building practice. By "built environment," we mean to invoke a broad set of places, professional fields, and ways of making, designing, thinking, and describing. We are not much concerned with covering the geography of Pennsylvania; rather, we emphasize a range of built environment histories, issues, subjects, and approaches. Individually, these pieces interrogate the uses, designs, and meanings of legacy environments. We also see each essay—and the group as a whole—as an invitation to find connections between environment-making in one place and period and the impulses still afield today in practices of design, preservation, and public history.

We cast a wide net when drafting the call for papers for this issue to encourage authors to think creatively about how their work might resonate with the theme. The breadth of responses enabled us to bring together a lively variety of research articles and smaller "Hidden Gems," ranging from the commentaries of eighteenth-century Quaker diarists on the legacy of William Penn's agrarian capitalist landscapes to the history of public bath facilities in Philadelphia to the vexatious driving habits of Fiske and Marie Kimball. Readers have an opportunity to stroll through Germantown founder Francis Pastorius's garden, then delve into the meaning of Frank Furness's work for the great Philadelphia Modernist Louis Kahn.

Each essay is a richly researched, carefully made, and deeply meaningful window onto the histories of thinking about and making the built environments that are Pennsylvania's legacy. Acknowledging the variety of subjects and approaches, we also sense some important linking themes. [End Page 188] First, rather than focusing on one structure or site, all of the authors take a contextual approach by interrogating the social and political milieux alongside the design conditions governing placemaking. A second theme involves the history of efforts to create as well as to critique peaceful and therapeutic places of refuge and improvement. A third concerns the tension between "official" and "vernacular" styles or ideologies. Relatedly, a fourth theme traces how the efforts of individual citizens—diarists, designers, administrators, and philanthropists—have informed the conception, construction, and use of public and private structures and spaces and how these efforts can both comply with and resist broader structures of sociopolitical and economic power.

William Penn famously referred to the colony of Pennsylvania as "a holy experiment," envisioning the creation of an agrarian capitalist paradise built by the enterprising yeoman class. Jay Miller proposes that by projecting an idealized "official" vision of the colony in his promotional pamphlets, Penn fostered "a false set of expectations for what life in the new colony would be like, contributing to the acrimony that soon emerged between the proprietor and his putative subjects." It remained for Quaker authors of journals published in the 1770s, though they subscribed to Penn's reformist idealism, to confront the reality of the exploitative "vernacular" landscape created by settler colonialism. They produced a record of that landscape "attuned to precisely what Penn overlooked"—the actual shape of the agrarian capitalist economy created by colonists and the lives of the people it marginalized. In order to restore the imagined Arcadian past Penn had projected in his promotional works, these Quaker reformers recognized that direct action would be needed to alleviate the suffering of indentured servants and tenant farmers, enslaved Africans, and displaced Indigenous peoples.

By the end of the nineteenth century, like their counterparts in other American cities, elite White Philadelphians led efforts to promote sanitary reform within the slum districts of Philadelphia. In her essay, Sarah Lerner describes how the Public Baths Association (PBA) used the construction of public bathhouses in targeted neighborhoods during the first quarter of the twentieth century both to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2169-8546
Print ISSN
0031-4587
Pages
pp. 188-192
Launched on MUSE
2022-03-10
Open Access
No
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