Between 1865 and 1867 Charles Gessford and Stephen Flanagan partnered in building 16 attached row houses on 11th Street, SE (132-144 Eleventh Street, SE). Gessford had the row houses built for his Philadelphia native wife to aid with her homesickness. Thus creating Philadelphia Row. The buildings had flat fronts of innovative machine-made pressed bricks. The bricks’ smooth surfaces and crisp edges contrasted visibly with the coarser texture of older ones and would replace them in most construction of the Hill, and across the city. Flat roofs invisible from the streets, modest brackets at the cornice line, four-panel doors and larger windowpanes further distinguished Philadelphia Row from its Hill forebears.
Charles Gessford is one of Washington, D.C.’s most prolific architects and was the most well-known architect in Capitol Hill in the late 19 century. Each of his houses, more often than not, have square-cornered with red pressed brick, stone trim, door transoms and stained glass windows. Stephen Flanagan was a wealthy Philadelphia tugboat manufacturer and speculator.