Fete Day Celebration at Elfreth’s Alley
Residents on America’s oldest street open their doors for one day only
June 4, 2016
Get a rare glimpse into a dozen 18th-century private homes of residents on the nation’s oldest residential street during the annual Fete Day celebration at Elfreth’s Alley.
Dating back to the 1930s, the traditional celebration is the only opportunity this season for visitors to actually step into the private homes of Elfreth’s Alley and discover how generations after have continued to preserve, alter and add to the historic structures.
Free guided tours are available on Fete Day for visitors to learn the Alley’s back stories, like the tale of a resident who was hung for joining the British side during the Revolution or how the neighborhood once earned its reputation as “helltown.”
Elfreth’s Alley Museum
A few select homes remain open to the public year-round, which is where the Elfreth’s Alley Museum is located, offering visitors guided tours and gifts.
Running east from Second Street between Arch and Race streets, Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in the country with more than 300 years of history.
In the 18th century, the alley was home to cabinetmakers, pewterers, merchants and sea captains. Famous past residents include Moses Mordecai, a founding member of Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia’s first synagogue), Stephen Girard, eventually the richest man in America, and Cophy Douglass, a free African tailor.
During Philadelphia’s rise as the industrial powerhouse of the nation in the 19th century, these same homes were crowded with Italian, Irish and Jewish immigrants in search of the American dream.
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