Weccacoe Firehouse

In the 19th century, the engine house was the center of social life for working-class men in the area. Membership in a fire company granted men social status, authority, and legitimacy within their own neighborhoods and ethnic groups. There were seven fire companies in Southwark; the brigades were volunteer, and their members drawn from and aligned with competing ethnic and political groups. Companies of Irish Democrats or Nativist Republicans often operated like street gangs competing for turf — and in this case, the "turf" was burning buildings. The clubhouse atmosphere and ethnic and political antipathies often led to rival companies fighting at the scene of the blaze, causing more harm than good as the structures burned down.

Founded in 1800, this house, Weccacoe Engine, spawned a splinter "Weccacoe Hose" in 1842 after an ethnically tinged rift occurred within Weccacoe Engine over temperance. The Irishmen felt targeted and alienated by the temperance movement, which they perceived as thinly veiled anti-Irish sentiment. The break-away Weccacoe Hose Company at Front and Catharine streets was aligned with the Democratic Party and anti-temperance, while the Engine Company remained Republican and pro-temperance.

Since volunteer firehouses in both Southwark and adjacent Moyamensing were considered more of a social problem than a public good, many companies tried to counter this image with parades and professions of loyalty to neighborhoods. The informal, disorganized and sometimes violent nature of the fire companies was one factor leading to the incorporation of the industrial suburbs of Philadelphia (including Southwark, Moyamensing and Northern Liberties) into the city itself in 1854, and the subsequent creation of municipal police and fire companies.

References

  • Davis, Susan G. Parades and Power: Street Theatre in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.
  • Laurie, Bruce. "Fire Companies and Gangs in Southwark: The 1840s." in The Peoples of Philadelphia: A History of Ethnic Groups and Lower Class Life, 1790-1940, edited by Allen F. Davis and Mark H. Haller, 71–87. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1973.
  • Sitarski, Stephen M. "From Weccacoe to South Philadelphia: The Changing Face of a Neighborhood." Pennsylvania Legacies, vol. 7 no 2 (November 2007) 6-13.

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Address

117 Queen St.

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Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church Shot Tower Conveyed Hancock Street Houses Site of the Southwark Soup Society Weccacoe Engine Co.'s House, and Reception of United Fire Co. of Baltimore Church of St. Philip Neri Court having nine small houses in rear of a tenement house Mario Lanza Park banner Pelzer Funeral Home Southwark/Queen Village Community Garden Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church front entrance Budweiser's Bar Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Church St. Stanislaus Catholic Church James Forten Kesher Israel Synagogue B'nai Abraham synagogue Mt. Tabor African Methodist Church Lombard Street Riot Historical Marker Octavius V. Catto W.E.B. Du Bois portrait Firefighter Stephen Presco, Engine 11 Housefronts on 600 Block of Kater Street Bedford Street Mission The Antiquarian's Delight Retail Depot of the Great Philadelphia Made Clothing N. Snellenburg & Co. Curb Market, 4th Street and South Street Famous 4th Street Delicatessen sign 4th Street, 1940 Marmelstein's front window on Fabric Row Casa Ravello Milk Station House of Industry historical marker Graphic Sketch Club Julia and Aldo Allegrini wedding L'Opinione: Il Departmento Circolazione Vietnamese Hung Vuong Association Curtis Publishing Plant/Lofts at Bella Vista Isgro Pastries storefront St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church Verdi Hall Italian Market, 1947 Lady of Good Council R.C. Church, Christian above 8th Sts. Interior of Luigi Fiorella Meat Market Italian & American Maccaroni Works Dan Khang Nha Trang sign Anthony's Chocolate House exterior D'Angelo's Specialty Meats storefront Playbill for the "The Passion Play of Christ"  presented by the Filodramatic Circle Gasperinese, 1931 The Procession of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi mural Fante-Leone Public Pool Cannuli Brothers storefront Talluto's Authentic Italian Food storefront Grassia's Italian Market Spice Company Lupita's Grocery Store storefront Paul Giordano Sr. Saigon Maxim restaurant Jefferson Square Mia (left) and Mary (right) Viola St. Maron's Church exterior Bitar's Eastern Mediterranean Grill Southeast Corner - 9th Street and Washington Avenue Washington Avenue Immigration Station
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