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History of the Green Tree Inn - Marlborough Inn
-researched by Ken Milano and given as a talk at the Green Tree
on September 15, 1997


1691-1699
On March 4th, 1691, William Penn, through his deputy William Markam,
repatents a part of the Shackamaxon Tract, 462 acres, to the previous
owner, long time Swedish settler, Mickell Nelson, for a quit-rent of one
bushel of wheat.


1699-1700
On October 31st, 1699, Mikell Nelson sells & transfers the property to
Thomas Child & Robert Everndon, who keep it less then a year.


1700-1711
On June 4th, 1700, Child & Everndon, sell the property to Thomas Fairman


1711
On 27th of July, 1711, Thomas Fairman wills his property to his sons,
Thomas & Benjamin Fairman, after the death of their mother. After the death
of Thomas, Sr., his wife Elizabeth, and Thomas the son, the property falls
to Benjamin.


1711 - 1805
The Shackamaxon Tract, begins to be broken down, one purchaser of part of
the tract is Anthony Palmer, who buys a number of acres and creates his
estate of "Hope Farm." In 1729 Palmer sells "Hope Farm" to William Ball. In
1730, Palmer with the proceeds from "Hope Farm" buys the former Fairman
Mansion, located at the future site of Penn Treaty Park, with the
surrounding 191 1/2 acres. Palmer begins in the 1730's to lay out
his town of Kensington. Various other people start to invest in the area
below Kensington on the river. It's during this time that the break up and
selling of several tracts of land in the old Shackamaxon gets to be cloudy.
Inaccuracies in the record keeping of the deeds contributes to the
confusion as to who the actual owners of the Green Tree plot were during
the better part of the latter 18th century

 


1805-1809
It is in 1805, that Edward Duffield sells the property to Christian Sheetz
& Conrad Worknot. How Duffield acquired it is the confusing part, but he is
listed as the grantor on April 13th, 1805, for a piece of ground situated
in Kensington, and deeded to Christian Sheetz & Conrad Worknot.
Christian Sheetz was a lawyer and a local Justice of the Peace. His partner
Conrad Worknot was a listed as a yeoman . Not much information has been
gathered on Conrad Worknot, but the Sheetz family was a quite large and
important family in the early 19th century history of Kensington. They were
involved in glass making and were also one of the early fishing families of
"Fishtown." The Sheetz's had a Glass Works (Sheetz's & Duffy, 1855) on
Gunner's Run (Aramingo), at York Street. They were also large property
owners. They owned the block below the Inn, towards the river and they also
had a house and property on Hanover (Columbia) street, and like other
future owners or operators of the Inn , Singerly, Miskey & Peiffer, Sheetz
had a place on north 2nd Street. The family also had other land in
Kensington. In Christian Sheetz's will of 1813, he gave his son Peter, a
lot which he bought of Joseph Baldwin, which adjoined Wood Street
(Susquehana), Duke (Thompson) Street, Vienna (Berks) & West (Belgrade),
plus a small house on the Duke Street side.

Edward Duffield , the person who sold the property to Sheetz & Worknot, was
the son of Edward Duffield (1720-1801), a distinguished clock maker from
Philadelphia. The elder Duffield had purchased the Kensington property in
the 1770's, for investment purposes. There is no record of the Duffields
ever having lived there. The clock maker Duffield was a good friend of
Benjamin Franklin and at Franklin's suggestion he placed a two faced clock
tower outside his shop at 2nd and Arch streets. So many people had been
coming in asking the time of Duffield, that Franklin thought a clock
outdoors would be a good idea. This became the first public clock in
Philadelphia. Besides his clock shop, Duffield also was the keeper of the
clock in Independence Hall's tower from 1762 to 1775. Duffield also made
instruments for Franklin's experiments. In 1747, Duffield purchased
property in Lower Dublin Township. His estate was called "Benfield" and it
was here that Benjamin Franklin spent many days during the British
occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War.


1809-1810
The deed for Christian Sheetz and Magdaline his wife, & Conrad Worknot and
Mary his wife, for selling the lot to Lewis Fortner, dated May 8th 1809, is
the current block which the Inn now stands on. This is the beginning of the
unclouding of the deed records. The plot ran from the southwest corner of
Prince (Girard Ave.) and Marlborough, east 58 feet, 3 inches on Marlbourgh
Street, and the breath across the property on Prince Street was 202 feet,
to a street called Crown (Crease), then east on Crown to another property line
of Sheetz & Worknot, then along that property line to Marlborough Street. The
place was bounded on the South by another property of Sheetz & Worknot,
which went eastward to Bedford Street (Wildey). Lewis Fortner paid 600
dollars for the property from Sheetz & Worknot. Fortner was listed as a
glass blower and it is possible that he worked for the Sheetz's family, or
knew them through the families glass interests.

1810-1838
Fortner didn't hold on to the property that long. In fact, the very next
year it was sold to Anthony Miskey, of the Northern Liberties for 1500
dollars. The price of 1500 dollars is 900 dollars more then what Fortner
paid one year earlier. This has to be because Fortner made some types of
improvement, or construction on the property. Whether Fortner fell ill,
died, or simply moved on is not known.

In 1802, Anthony Miskey, began as a grocer at 89 Coates Street (Fairmount
Ave.) in the Northern Liberties. Miskey soon went into tailoring, and moved
to 382 N. 2nd Street where he remained until the late 1820's. Miskey moved
into dry goods, and became a dealer & trader by 1810. By 1829, Miskey retired
to his home at 103 Coates Street, and lists himself as a gentleman. Miskey lived
on at his home on Coates street to about 1833. His estate then handled his
property for him.

It was during the ownership of Anthony Miskey, that the first mention of
the "Green Tree Inn" is recorded. In 1818, John Deveney, is listed at the
"Green Tree Inn," at the corner of Prince (Girard) and Marlborough. Deveney
had lived in Kensington since at least 1813. At that time he was working as
a laborer and living on Beach near Marlborough. By the very next year in
1814, he was working as a shipwright, which he did for another 4 years
until he began to show up listed under the "Green Tree Inn."
Since it is known that Miskey is the owner of the property, and it is also
known, that Miskey isn't listed as the proprietor of the "Green Tree Inn,"
then it is also quite possible, that John Deveney is running the Inn for
Miskey, or at least, he is renting from Miskey. Since the city directories
don't state that Deveney is dealing in liquors, etc, it is possible that
Deveney is simply living at the Inn. There are two other fellow
shipwrights, George Sutton & George Wright, that are listed as living at
Prince and Marlborough, but not as living at the Inn. This may give
credence to Deveney as running the Inn. Sutton is listed by 1817 as living
at Marlborough near Prince, and Wright is listed by 1817, as living at
Prince near Marlborough. They both continue to be listed at these addresses
for another 5 to 6 years. It is possible that Deveney's cohorts in the
shipwright trade moved into the Inn after he began to run it, but without
accurate records, it's all speculation. By 1823, after 5 years of running
the Green Tree, Deveney disappears from the records, as does the Green Tree
Inn. Shipwrights, Wright & Sutton, continue to be listed at Prince near
Marlborough, or Marlborough near Prince, or Marlborough near Bedford, until
1835.

In 1828, Frederick Peiffer, starts to appear in the records as being
located at the corner of Prince & Marlborough. Peiffer had been a currier
and bark inspector in the Northern Liberties since at least 1818, operating
at 370 N. 2nd Street. This N. 2nd street address would have made him almost
a next door neighbor to Anthony Miskey, the owner of the Inn. Miskey was
located at 382 N. 2nd, and Peiffer at 370 N. 2nd.

Probably, after Deveney left, got fired, fell behind on rent, or any of a
number of possibilities, Miskey got together with Peiffer, and had him take
over the Inn. Peiffer continued to run the Inn until Miskey died in the mid
1830's. Peiffer is listed at the corner of Prince and Marlborough from 1828
to 1833, the time when Miskey wrote up his last will. Peiffer, after
retiring from the Inn, moved to 22 Coates Street, the same block as
Miskey's home. He, like Miskey, began listing himself as a gentleman.
Miskey's real estate was to be held in trust until his wife died, then
sold. His wife outlived him by 5 years; hence the property wasn't sold for
5 years.


1838-42
On August 1 0th, 1838, Joseph Taylor, esq., for the estate of Anthony
Miskey, sold the property to Benjamin Singerly, printer, of the Northern
Liberties, for $5,350.00. Obviously, the property had been some what
improved by Miskey, as well as the fact that land values in Kensington were
increasing.

Benjamin Singerly was the son of George Singerly. George Singerly had
another son named Joseph, and 5 daughters. George Singerly had been a long
time resident of the Northern Liberties. He started out in 1802 as a tailor
at 236 St. John's Street (American Street). In 1806 he moved to 400 N. 3rd
Street, around the corner from Anthony Miskey, the previous owner of the
property that the Inn sits on. Miskey, like Singerly, also started out as
a tailor in the Northern Liberties. Both of the men moved up to the dry goods
trade becoming dealers in that trade by 1810 or so. By 1825 George Singerly was
running a tavern at 400 N. 3rd Street and continued to run the tavern until
1837, the year before his son Benjamin buys the Green Tree Inn property. In
1840 George Singerly is listed as a dry goods merchant again at 400 N. 3rd
Street. Either George got out of the tavern keeping business after 15
years, or his son Benjamin took it over and moved it to the Green Tree. The
coincidence in the timing of Benjamin buying the Inn, and George going back
to dry goods, may be too much to think otherwise. Also at this time, Joseph
Singerly, George's other son, is beginning to be listed in the directories,
as a house carpenter, living at Hollowell above Front, then at Coates below
Front, then moving to 13 Ellen Street by 1839. Ellen was west from Front,
between Brown and Poplar. The Miskey's and Singerly's in all likelihood
know each other through the dry goods business, the tavern business, or
simply as neighbors in the Northern Liberties. This is most likely how the
property came to be sold by the Miskey's to the Singerly's.


1843 to 1898
Between 22nd & the 31st of July 1843, Benjamin Singerly rented three
parcels of his property to his brother, Joseph Singerly. Joseph had already
been listed as having been living at Crown and Prince since 1841 a couple
of years after Benjamin bought the property. The block between Marlborough
and Crease seems to have been broken up into three lots. The one on the
corner of Marlborough & Franklin where the Inn was, (the name Franklin
replaced Prince around 1843), was one plot. The corner lot of Crown and
Prince where Joseph Singerly was living was another lot. The lot in
between was the third. Benjamin Singerly rented the Inn property to his
brother Joseph for 54 dollars a year, with the agreement that Joseph would
pay all taxes and rents, plus that he would construct a substantial brick
structure within a year's time, to secure the rent. It is guessed that the
current building of the Green Tree Tavern was erected at this time
(between 1843 & 1844), according to the deed agreement between the Singerly
brothers.

Joseph Singerly continued to live at Crown and Franklin until 1855, when he
moved to Harrowgate Lane. By 1853, he began to list himself as an architect
and builder. Also in 1855, his son William Singerly is now beginning to be
listed in the directories as a bookkeeper, living at 5th street, above
Maiden.

In 1856, George Singerly, the father, finally retires at his home on N. 3rd
street. His son Joseph briefly keeps an office at Crown and Franklin, but
his home is at Harrowgate Lane above Front. Joseph moves his office to
town at 228 Dock Street in 1860 as he begins to be more involved with the
passenger railroad business and the home construction business. Joseph
Singerly began to invest in property and he acquired a 75-acre tract in the
28th ward (York & Dauphin, Broad to 22nd Sts). He began constructing homes
and made a ton of money, which he invested in the Germantown Passenger
Railroad. Singerly eventually became its largest stockholder and
eventually it's treasurer and vice-president. In 1860, his son William
having already been trained in business in Chicago joined his father in
Philadelphia to run the railroad. After 1856, the Singerly's had moved out
of Kensington completely, but still held onto some properties, including
the Green Tree Inn. Joseph Singerly moved from his Harrowgate Lane home, to
a mansion, which he built at Broad & Green.

At the time of Joseph Singerly's death in 1878, he left an estate worth
$1.2 million dollars. His real estate holdings alone were well over 100
properties. Most of the estate went to his son William. William Singerly
enlarged his father's estate even greater. He turned the $750,000 worth of
Railroad Stock that he inherited from his father, into a fortune of $1.5
million within a few years. He sold the stock and became an even bigger
homebuilder then his father. Taking over the real estate holdings of his
father and expanding it, he built over 1,000 houses, running into the
millions of dollars. The building project was the largest ever undertaken
by one person in the City of Philadelphia. William also had a brickyard and
a planning mill, which helped his building enterprises. He also held
interests in knitting mills at 8th & Dauphin Sts, which produced the
largest amount of "Jerseys" in the world. He also purchased the
Philadelphia Public Record newspaper in 1877, and built the Philadelphia
Public Record Building, which still stands today. He became an active
spokesperson through his newspaper for the Democratic Party in
Pennsylvania, at a time when Republicans dominated the city. He ran
for governor in the 1890's, but lost. After retiring from the railroad,
home construction, and the newspaper business, he built his estate in
Montgomery County called, "Record Farm," where he proceeded to breed the
most prized Holstein's in the country, as well as a high grade of Cotswold
sheep. A mighty rise for a lad from Kensington.

During the ownership of the Green Tree by Joseph Singerly, Conrad V.
Naumann, was one of the operators of the Green Tree Inn. Starting in 1849,
which was probably just after Singerly built the new property, Naumann
began to serve up his lager under the name of "Franklin Hall." The name of
"Franklin Hall, " undoubtedly comes from the then recently renamed Girard
Avenue. Originally called Prince Street, it was changed to Franklin around
1843. By 1860, Naumann was advertising as a Hotel & Tavern. Naumann ran the
tavern from 1849 to 1864. Records show that Naumann opened up another
saloon at Girard & Palmer in 1866. Girard was called Girard now, and it's
former Franklin and Prince names forgotten. Naumann continued to run
his tavern at Palmer & Girard until he died in 1872.

Soon after Naumann gave up Franklin Hall, one Philip M. Mann took over the
place. It isn't sure just yet if Mann gave it a new name, but he did run
the place from 1867 to at least 1872, when he then took over another bar at
224 Green Street. At this point the Green Tree history disappears and
doesn't resurface until the estate of Joseph Singerly sells the property in
1898.

 


1898 to 1904
On March 28th, 1898, Thomas J. Sullivan, bought from Joseph Singerly's
estate, the property at 260 -262 East Girard Avenue. It's not known at the
moment if the place was going by any particular name. The National
Register's Historic Places report, states that by the end of the 19th
century the name had changed to the Farmers Hotel. When Thomas J. Sullivan
took over the place in 1898, he had a background in selling liquors. He had
previously sold wine and spirits in Center City, at 35 S. 18th Street,
during the years 1893 to 1897. After buying the Green Tree, he ran it
personally until he sold it in 1904 to Michael Boyle.


1905 to 1940
On December 28th, 1904, Michael Boyle bought the property from Thomas J.
Sullivan. Boyle held onto the property until 1940. Boyle was never listed
at the address, and you can only assume that he rented the license out.
There is only one Michael Boyle listed in 1901, and he is listed as being a
hostler, with his address being 3301 Haverford Avenue. Michael Boyle lives
at the Haverford Avenue address for a number of years even after buying the
Inn. It could be the Haverford Avenue address was his home. The area was a
very fashionable place at the time. His investment in the Green Tree was
perhaps simply another hotel of his. George Lotz seems to have rented the
tavern from Boyle. Starting in 1908 through 1911, Lotz is listed as a wine
and spirit dealer & bartender, at 260-262 E. Girard Avenue. Lotz had
previously lived on the 2900 block of east Lehigh Avenue. After this brief
proprietary of Lotz, nothing else of the Inn is forthcoming. Boyle's estate
finally sold the property in 1940.


1940 to 1945
The Boyle estate sold the Inn to Joseph Yankus and his wife Mary. Nothing
much is known about them, as they couldn't be found in the records. The
Yankus's sold the property after keeping it for 5 years.


1945 to 1946
The property was next sold by the Yankus's to Andrew Wizimirski, who's name
seems to be spelt with a "Q," instead of the appropriate "W," in the
official records. Wizimirski had previously had a saloon at 8th &
Cumberland streets. He gave that up to buy the Green Tree, only to die soon
after. His wife was widowed, living on Amber Street by 1947.

 


1946 to 1993
Wizimirski and his wife sold the place to an owner who would own the Inn
the longest period of time next to the Singerly family. Sidney Mankind, and
his cousin Aaron Vigderman bought the place on April 12th, 1946. They ran
the place together until Sidney and his wife Adele, bought out their cousin
on March 24th 1952. The Mankind's seemed to be the owners who named it the
Marlborough Inn. Records of 1953 have it listed as the Marlborough Inn,
under "Hotels," in the Philadelphia phone books. The Mankind's ran the
place until Sidney died and his wife Adele sold it to the present owner of
the place when I gave this talk in 1997. He did not however last that long,
and the place has been sitting abandoned for the first time in many many years.

Addenda:
Sidney's brother, Dave Mankind, also ran a tavern, "Dave's Bar," on the southeast
corner of 3rd & Fairmount. Like the old Marlborough, Dave's had room rentals above the
bar as well.

Dave bought his place at about the same time that Sidney took full
control of the Marlborough in 1952. Dave was a bit of character. His place,
as well as the old Marlborough Inn, use to house a number of old drunkards, or
World War Two veterans, who had plates in their heads, or were shell-shocked, or
simply alcoholics. Dave use to keep the fellows in the booze, tell them
when they had enough, took care of their checks, etc. In a way they were lucky
to have a fellow like him, or else they would have perhaps lived on the street.
On a number of occasions, this author got a free beer from Dave for carrying the
drunks outside and laying them on pavement to get some air, afterwhich they would
be carried up to their rooms.  I'm assuming that when the Vine Street Expressway
came in, many of the old juke joints that use to line Vine Street from Front to
10th Streets (the area was called  the "Tenderloin District" in my uncle's days)
and housed the stew bums, must have gotten flushed up north to the area around Dave's establishment.


However, by late 1980's, the Northern Liberties started to lose it's old charm,
gentrification started taking hold, and the character of the neighborhood was soon lost.
By the year 2002 you would never recognize Dave's Bar at Third & Fairmount, it has been totally
taken over and rebuilt as a fancy eating establishment, as well that alley of watering
holes along Fairmount between 2nd and 4th would be closed down, replaced by places
that would never allow a lot of Dave's old clients to even step in the door. It's a long
way from the days that Dave would have a pistol stuck in his belt and close the bar
by 8:00 PM, because it got a wee bit dangerous after dark. I can still remember him
there, behind the bar, by the window near the door, studying the Wall Street Journal,
gun in his hip, while I sat and sipped "joints"and discussed the economy with him. Joints
were a rather old-fashion glass of whiskey, or wine, supplied in a very tall shot glass,
holding perhaps 4 shots of liquor. You don't really see those sorts of drinks in the neighborhood
any more...


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