Girard House Polka


This lithograph from circa 1852 is the cover illustration to the sheet music “Girard House Polka,” composed by C.F. Stein, a member of the Germania Musical Society, and dedicated to Miss Flora Davis. The hand-colored lithograph shows the Girard House hotel, located at 823–835 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The hotel was built 1851–52 after designs by architect John McArthur, Jr. (1823–90). In this view, pedestrian traffic, including men, women, and children, walk in front of the hotel and neighboring buildings on the block. A number of the women carry parasols. Men stand on the veranda of the hotel and in the doorway of an adjacent building. Several horse-drawn carriages are parked in the street. The publishers are listed as Lee & Walker and William Hall & Son. The lithographer, Thomas S. Sinclair (circa 1805–81), was born in the Orkney Islands of Scotland and was active in Philadelphia by 1833, where he soon had his own business and was one of the first local printmakers to experiment with color lithography. A practical lithographer throughout his career, Sinclair produced all genres of lithographs, including maps, advertisements, city and landscape views, sheet music covers, portraiture, political cartoons, certificates, and book illustrations.

Last updated: January 9, 2018