The Carriage House, Pre-LGBT

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In the early 19th century, the building that is now home to Penn’s LGBT Center belonged to one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest families. Joseph D. Potts, a railroad and international shipping executive, constructed the Carriage House at 3907 Spruce Street in 1876 to match his newly purchased mansion at 3905 Spruce Street, which now houses the Penn Press. For a long time, it served as a horse stable, with living quarters for staff on the second floor. Potts, a trustee of the University, had two sons, William M. Potts C1876 and Francis L. Potts C1881. When Joseph died in December 1893, his widow, Mary McCleery Potts, lived in the house, while the boys lived nearby. William succeeded his dad as president of Enterprise Transportation and then became president of Kewanee Oil and Gas, becoming even richer than his father; Francis was president of a slew of transportation, mining, and gas companies, and director of two banks. Following Mary’s death, the property sat vacant for a number of years. It wasn’t until 1911 that the International House of Philadelphia, then closely affiliated with Penn’s Christian Association, purchased the property, using it as a support facility for more than 40 years. It was during this period, in 1925, that this photo was taken. Afterwards, the building served as a thrift shop and a private residence, before the renovations that converted it into the LGBT Center. —NP

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