THE HISTORY OF HEADHOUSE SQUARE
Established on Lombard Street in 1745 by mayor Edward Shippen and Joseph Wharton, a wealthy merchant and named “New Market” to distinguish it from the established market on High (now Market) St., the market was used well into the 19th century. It originally consisted of 16 stalls created by two rows of brick pillars supporting a gable roof and arched ceiling over an open market area, known as the Shambles. By 1797 it had extended to South Street, where it ended in a firehouse, which was later demolished, and eventually extended north to Pine Street as well.
In 1804 the Head House, a Georgian-style brick firehouse with Federal-style ornamentation, was built at the north end of the market; the building’s cupola once housed a firebell. The firehouse is the oldest extent in the United States, and is now used as a community center. The market structure was demolished in 1950 but rebuilt in the early 1960s, and the Head House was restored.
The area around the building, known as Head House Square, features cobblestone streets and a park, as well as one of the oldest continuously run farmer’s markets in the nation. PHAIR’s crafters / art market is open on Saturdays 10am – 5pm and The farmers market is open Sundays from 10am – 2pm.
The site was declared a National Historic Landmark on November 13, 1966. It is a contributing property of the Head House Square National Historic District. It was restored in 1994 by the Head House Conservancy, a non-profit organization.