During the eighteenth century, most businesses operated out of people’s private residences. On
, grocers, shoemakers, cabinet makers, tailors and others worked out of the first floor of their houses.
This practice changed during the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, when work shifted to neighborhood factories.
While modern Philadelphia has sprung up around it, the alley remains a throwback to early America, preserving three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.
Things to Do
The museum offers tours that tell the story of a pair of dressmakers who ran a sewing business there.
Tiny by modern standards, the two homes that now serve as the museum and gift shop were considered of average size in their day.
The museum is open Friday through Sunday and offers tours that tell the story of a pair of dressmakers who ran a sewing business there.
During the 19th century, eight families (27 people) shared the two homes, a situation not uncommon for the era.
Events & More
Each year on the first Saturday in December, Elfreth’s Alley residents open their doors to the public for Deck the Alley, allowing visitors to see these historic homes decorated for the holidays inside and out.
Baked goods, cider, and Colonial carolers and musicians round out the festive event.
Residents also offer access to their private homes on Fete Day in June.