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The first documentary record of the property now known as Belfield was the transfer from William Penn to one Thomas Bowman on the "4th Month, 12th Day, 1684" a grant of about six hundred acres, north of what was considered "Philadelphia" and near Germantown. Bowman's land has been shaded on this copy of the earliest known map of the area. The land was very desirable because mills could be constructed on the streams flowing through it.

Where are the streams shown on this map? In 1875 the west branch of the Wingohocking Creek looked like the below painting ("Wister Woods" by Edmund Rodman). The stream in the painting follows the line of present-day Belfield Avenue; this view is from about the present intersection of Belfield and Lindley Avenues, looking north on Belfield (with Wister Woods on each side) toward what is now Twentieth Street.

"Wister Woods" by Edmund Rodman


Belfield Mansion (or "Peale House" or La Salle's "President's Office") seems to have been built about 1755 by Conrad Weber (or Weaver). The design of the Mansion is related to Weber's mill (two drawings of it are shown below), which had a second-story balcony and was located at the present-day intersection of Chew and Ogontz. When Painter Charles Willson Peale came to Belfield in 1810, his Mansion sketch (shown above) shows a similar balcony.
About 1900 the east and west branches of the Wingohocking Creek were enclosed in large city sewers buried beneath today's Belfield and Ogontz Avenues (see photograph below). The raising of the ground level caused by burying the sewers explains why some of the old buildings near the intersection of Belfield and Wister are now below street level.






The colonial kitchen at Belfield Mansion. This
kitchen looks much the same today as it did in
this mid-twentieth century photograph.

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