Man Full of Trouble Tavern

Stafford's Tavern-Paschall House

1760

127 Spruce St., Philadelphia PA

Exterior
5/5
Interior
3/5
Site
1/5
History
5/5
Overall
4/5

One of the last remaining artifacts of Philadelphia’s 18th Century thriving seaport. The MFOT is also a rare reminder of how the “other” 90% of the population lived.

Private

Some buildings are important for what they represent as well as for what they are. Philadelphia owed its wealth and power to its port and its port depended on small businesses like The Man full of Trouble Tavern to make it work. This unassuming vernacular building, and a few warehouses along Front Street, north of Market, are all that remains of Philadelphia’s original port. Standing here in the 1700’s Philadelphia, and especially the waterfront, would’ve looked very different.

To begin with, the actual river’s edge would have only been two blocks to the east at the bottom of a steep embankment. Each nearby street and alley would’ve been lined with small stores, taverns, warehouses and homes (completely intermixed) and the streets would’ve been teaming with activity day and night. Food and raw materials would have been loading on to the ships and food from as far as the Caribbean and manufactured goods from England would have been unloading.

When compared with its larger and more elegant neighbor, the City Tavern at Second and Walnut Streets, The Man Full of Trouble tavern was more typical of waterfront enterprises. It provided most of the services of its larger cousin on a more humble scale – food and drink were available on the first floor and lodging was available on the second and attic. It would have been a valuable property, being close to the center of activity (we know this because Steven Girard, who was to become the richest man in the United States, started his shipping company in a lean-to on the side of this tavern).

The tavern is relatively small as buildings go through probably not so much by colonial standards. Many of the buildings that remain from the colonial era are rather large which gives the wrong impression of what colonial Philadelphia was really like. Probably more typical of buildings are the small two story row houses found in some parts of Society Hill and in a few remaining locations in old city such as Elfreth’s alley

The Man Full of Trouble tavern does not fit neatly into any particular style of architecture. It’s half gambrel roof, its irregular placement of windows and doors, and it’s slightly battered end wall give it a much more vernacular architectural appearance than that of a fine a Georgian house. Even so, it does have the white woodwork, red brick and double sash windows typical of the Georgian period.

These kinds of small vernacular buildings with their charm and understated style have all but vanished from Philadelphia. The Man Full of Trouble tavern reminds us that Philadelphia in 1750 looked very different around the colonial area than the Philadelphia we see today.

The tavern in now owned by the University of Pennsylvania and is a private residence – please respect their privacy.

The Man Full of Trouble tavern does not fit neatly into any particular style of architecture. It’s half gambrel roof, its irregular placement of windows and doors, and it’s slightly battered end wall give it a much more vernacular architectural appearance than that of a fine a Georgian house. Even so, it does have the white woodwork, red brick and double sash windows typical of the Georgian period. These kinds of small vernacular buildings with their charm and understated style have all but vanished from Philadelphia. The Man Full of Trouble tavern reminds us that Philadelphia in 1750 looked very different around the colonial area than the Philadelphia we see today.