Southwark Soup Society

Site of the Southwark Soup Society. Image provided by City of Philadelphia Department of Records

833 Hancock St.

Founded in 1805 by Southwark resident James Ronaldson, the Southwark Soup Society was the first soup kitchen in Philadelphia. This building dates from the late 19th century. Ronaldson, a Scotsman who settled in Philadelphia in 1794, aimed to alleviate the most basic affliction of the overcrowded immigrant district — hunger. From January through March, the Southwark Soup Society aided "the deserving poor" of Southwark: primarily the European immigrants who made their way to Hancock Street shortly after arriving in America at the Washington Avenue docks, but also the native-born working poor of the neighborhood. Each winter the Southwark Soup Society distributed thousands of gallons of soup and hundreds of loaves of bread. The Society served its last soup in 1949, when it merged with the United Benevolent Association. Today the building is a restored private residence, but it retains its "Southwark Soup Society" plaque.