Thomas Nevel House

1770 Thomas Nevel

338 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia PA


This small mid-Georgian house was built by a master carpenter for his own use and exhibits some details, like the modillioned cornice, usually found on grander houses.


As Society Hill transitioned from residential to a mix of residential and commercial, the underlying row house structure allowed simple modification of the front façade to accommodate the new uses. At the Nevel House, a photo from before its most recent renovation in the 1950’s, shows a ground floor with a second door, probably to allow separate entrances for the shop and for the apartment above.

The two doors and center window have different lintels and openings when compared with the windows on the second floor, which were probably original. The more ornate of the two doors has a Greek revival casing which would have been wrong for a 1770 Georgian House.

The recreated Tuscan frontispiece is typical of the era but a little grand for such a small house. However, the ornate dormer and cornice do show up on the photo, probably making them original features and the modillions at the cornice are evidence for a rather ornate Georgian dwelling.

This makes sense – the house was originally built by master carpenter Thomas Nevel, who was involved in several large projects in the years before the Revolution and participated in building defenses (and gun carriages) for the Continental army.