text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Rensselaer House

Renssalaer House, interior

This interior view of the old Renssalaer House is part of the Historic American Buildings Survey of the Library of Congress

Old on the outside. New on the inside.

Across from the northeast corner of the square, on the NW corner of 18th and Walnut, is the former home of Alexander Van Rensselaer, a financier and supporter of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. One of the few splendid old mansions to survive, it once housed the Pennsylvania Athletic Club. The building now houses Anthropologie, an upscale clothing retailer.

The Alison Building directly to the west contains the offices of the Presbyterian Ministers' Fund, the oldest life insurance company in the world (1717), though the building is dominated by a Barnes and Noble. Adjacent to it, at 1811 Walnut Street and also facing the Square, is the Rittenhouse Club, another of the city's old and exclusive clubs. The author Henry James used to sit at a window and view this Square, too, with his worldly eye.

Turn around to the square itself to appreciate some of the charming statuary

Rittenhouse Square