Counterfeit Truth and Counterfeit Faith take place in Philadelphia, and while so much of the city has stayed the same, much of it has changed. In this tour, I’m sharing pictures of settings from Counterfeit Faith during my whirlwind two-day tour of Philadelphia. First off, did you know that Philadelphia is only two miles from river to river? I couldn’t believe how much they had cram-packed into that little space, but WOW. So, in reality, the majority of my story took place within two square miles. That really just blows my mind. So let’s take off.
Carpenters Hall is where we must start our tour because, of course, that is where Gwendolyn first starts out waiting for Mr. Farwell. You might have caught on to my intentional pun with his name if you’ve read the book. Poor Mr. Farwell must say farewell during the story, and I just couldn’t help myself. Nothing about Independence Park is the same as when Counterfeit Faith took place. In 1885, Carpenter Hall sat in the center of a city block surrounded by other businesses and buildings. There were a couple of alleys to access it, but there was no direct view. If you notice the cobblestone part of the walkway, that was approximately the size of the entrance between buildings to access Carpenters Hall.
It was while leaving this building that Josiah first laid eyes on Gwendolyn. It’s a good thing he did too, and more importantly, he noticed Quincy’s knife blade. It was at this location that everything was set into motion for two people to come together to rescue at-risk children, find love, and face more than their share of danger. For a woman who is used to being ignored or having to rescue herself, Josiah’s heroic intervention sets her heart aflutter and stirs dreams of romance that she’d long thought dead. Personally, I was a little giddy getting to stand on these steps and imagine the heroic rescue as it occurred. Of course, some of the buildings have been moved, and things don’t look 100% the way they did, but it was close enough to really enjoy the experience.
While the gorgeous houses on Arch Street described in the book no longer exist, I did see some houses that are similar in style. They’re larger than some of the other homes I found, and they had those stoops, shutters, and arched doorways that I was looking for. It was the best match I could find, and my mind relished imagining Josiah and Gwendolyn conversing on those steps.
Josiah worked for the Secret Service, which had offices in the unfinished City Hall building. When Josiah was there, the tower would not have been finished yet, nor would the giant William Penn statue have been on display. He worked in the judicial wing, and his office was hidden behind numbers without signage. He would have taken one of the sets of floating stairs to get to his floor of the building. These were such an architectural phenomenon that Wanamakers, the department store across the street, sold pamphlets and tours to show off those stairs. As you can see below, no supports are beneath it, just solid pieces of granite worked into the wall. Originally I had Josiah nervous to walk on them, but after having walked them myself, I knew Josiah wouldn’t have had a problem. They are so beautiful and fascinating I had to include pictures of all three views of the stairs.
Going back to Wanamaker. I don’t know if you caught it in the story, but Wanamaker’s was the department store where Gwendolyn’s mother and aunt worked. It was one of the first of its kind, offering set prices, return policies, various departments, artwork as fine as you would find in a gallery, and service for all levels of customers. Wanamaker was a brilliant man who helped to change the way people shopped. No more dickering and haggling over prices. Everyone paid the same price for the same item. Wanamaker’s no longer exists, but the store is now a Macy’s. Believe it or not, Wanamaker made the bold move of buying a former train station to turn it into his department store. I’m not sure if this location was the original train station location, but it’s definitely taller than it would have been in 1885. Those other floors were added later.
I’ll end my tour with a nod to Felicity from Counterfeit Truth. One of my big goals of this trip was to eat a Philadelphia pretzel . . . but apparently, they aren’t as big now as they were during Felicity’s time. The ONE pretzel I found was a sore disappointment that had to be rectified by going to my favorite pretzel place when I got home. However, the Reading Market (I think?) DID have some chocolate ice cream for me to sample from Bassetts that I must heartily agree is amazing. The whole time I ate that giant cone, I thought of Felicity eating ice cream with Mr. Cochran. If you haven’t read that book yet, you can download a free copy by joining my newsletter or purchasing it on Amazon.