Sign of the Times

Amy Grant
Amy Grant
Nov 11, 2020 · 2 min read

The property located on the northeast corner of 2nd and Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia contains a stamp or engraving in the cornice that says “1926 S. GRITZ.” It has long been a topic of curiosity of nearby neighbors. Who installed this signage and what does it mean?

From 2007 to 2018, the building located at 627–629 S. 2nd Street was home to The Irish Times, a destination known for the “perfect pint of Guinness” and an ideal place to watch a sports game. In the early 2000s, another bar called The Black Door briefly occupied the space, as did the South Philadelphia off-shoot of Las Cazuelas. According to MyPhillyAlive.com, the building also once housed one of Philadelphia’s first night clubs. While many different businesses have occupied this storefront over the years, the cornice has remained a constant fixture since the early 20th century.

When Samuel Gritz and his wife Fannie emigrated from Poland in 1906, Second Street was a thriving commercial corridor. Sometime before 1913, Gritz opened a grocery store on the northwest corner of 2nd and Monroe. A few years later, he began importing wholesale goods and moved north on 2nd, closer to South Street.

While Gritz was expanding his business offerings, the federal government began regulating the price, production, distribution, and storage of certain goods. The 1917 Food and Fuel Control Act, or Lever Act, was enacted to prevent monopolies and ensure conservation in times of war. Anyone violating the Act could be brought up on criminal charges. In 1920, Samuel Gritz and two other local merchants were accused of sugar profiteering and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
The storefront at 627–629 S. 2nd Street, photographed in 1959. Samuel Gritz, who purchased the property in 1926, installed the signage that bears his name.

It is not clear if these accusations were founded but Gritz appears to have recovered from the ordeal. In 1926, he expanded his business significantly by purchasing six adjacent lots and warehouses near Stenton Park that were formerly occupied by the Gornish Bros. A few months later, he also purchased the building located 627–629 S. 2nd Street, occupying the property as his residence and business. The cornice bearing his name was likely installed shortly thereafter.

Samuel and Fannie Gritz continued to occupy the property over the next thirty years. Fannie passed away in 1959 and, sadly, Samuel died a year later. They do not appear to have had any children and their only heir was a nephew who lived a few blocks away on South Street.

Sign up for Southwark History

By Southwark History

The official newsletter of the Southwark Historical Society features a curated selection of articles penned by our members. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Amy Grant

Written by

Amy Grant

Writer, researcher, host of the podcast “Great Talks at Gloria Dei.”

Southwark History

Preserving and promoting the history of Southwark, a historic district located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Amy Grant

Written by

Amy Grant

Writer, researcher, host of the podcast “Great Talks at Gloria Dei.”

Southwark History

Preserving and promoting the history of Southwark, a historic district located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store