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Views of Narberth Past

304 North Essex, about 1898

Image source: "Narberth No. I House" (CVP-134), Francis Cooper Photographs (MG 464), Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA

Addresses in view: 304 N. Essex Ave.

modern view of the historical image seen from the same viewpoint
25 Jan 2017

Photograph by Francis Cooper (1874-1944) who lived here 1898-1901. Cooper was an amateur photographer, though serious enough to exhibit in Philadelphia and Paris. The Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg maintains an archive of Cooper's photographs and negatives, which includes many images taken in and around Narberth. Another Narberth photo by Cooper, looking out of the railroad tunnel on N. Wynnewood Ave., may seen on our site.

Cooper's biography and photographs are the subject of Jay Ruby's The World of Francis Cooper: Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania Photographer (University Park, PA, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999). The Narberth Community Library's copy contains a helpful page key to references to and images of Narberth.

Francis Cooper in his room at 1810 South Broad Street
Francis Cooper circa 1898


By 1899, the Williamsons had rented 304 North Essex Avenue in Narberth from its owner, Emerson Conrad, a prominent Philadelphian. Narberth was a new mainline suburb of Philadelphia, where several of the original houses had been constructed from Godey's Lady's Book patterns and were paragons of Victorian domestic architecture. Francis occasionally lived with the Williamsons during his last year in Philadelphia, probably alternating between his widowed Aunt Lucy's home and Narberth. Based on his 1900 date book, Francis visited more than once a week.