In the heart of Kensington on the 3300 block of G Street stands an architectural oasis.
Standing for over 100 years, the building is now the Guckin Funeral Mansion. The massive structure has not just become a staple of the community, but it is a time capsule of a different era in a constantly changing neighborhood.
For the last 50 years the Guckin’s have called the mansion home. The building was originally owned by Irish contractor Michael O’Rourke, who was involved in the construction of the Market-Frankford El.
Andrew Guckin, who was born in 1927 and raised in Kensington, had always admired the ornate mansion. That area was once considered a prosperous neighborhood and even then the mansion was unique.
“I remember when I was young, walking on the Belgian block fence that surrounded the house,” said Marge Golden, who lived on Ontario Street from 1934 until 1965. “Back then Kensington was really nice and the mansion was a special part of the neighborhood.”
Guckin began his career as a funeral director when he started working for his uncle. He eventually started his own funeral business in a small row home but then made the decision to move into the mansion. Abandoned at the time, Guckin decided to move his family into the home, restore it and turn it into the funeral parlor.
The mansion to this day is furnished with some of its original pieces. The archways and mantelpieces are decorated with woodwork of flora and crests. The 14-foot-high ceilings boast large chandeliers that illuminate the many rooms.
Today the funeral mansion is run by Guckin, now 86, and his daughter Betty Ann Guckin. “It’s a family business,” said Betty Ann “We love it so much. Meeting the different families, it’s never dull.”
Betty Ann has been a witness to many of the changes that have transformed the neighborhood. Though it’s not the same place where she grew up she said she believes that it remains a good community. “It remains one of those neighborhoods where people look out for one another,” said Betty Ann.
She now resides there with her 6-year-old son Andrew Guckin II. When she asks him if he would like to move to a new house he replies, “I only want to live at the mansion.”