Archive for January, 2011

Tube Tuesday: They Do Come Back

Field Notes would’ve really jumped the shark with this bizarre piece of medical noir if it weren’t for the choice shots of vintage Philadelphia architecture contained herein– the Art Museum, 2601 Parkway, rowhouses, daylight factories, colonial revival ‘burbs.  Oh, the good old days, when the factories churned and the sanatoriums cured….

This is a Cliff Notes version we edited down from the full 16-minute film found here:

Unlisted: West Philadelphia Title and Trust

Unlisted is a series of portraits highlighting Philadelphia buildings not yet listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.  To learn how to protect a building by nominating it to the Register, click here.

Address: 4000 Lancaster Avenue

Architect: Walter Smedley

Built: 1897

How is this stately bank building on the corner of Lancaster and 40th not on the Philadelphia Register? Well, up until a few years ago, it was overgrown with billboards and signage, its decorative bloom of terra cotta concealed by Clear Channel’s mongering shroud. Huge kudos to the People’s Emergency Center, which convinced the building owner to kick the ad habit. After the necessary cleaning, repointing and stabilization, what emerged was a spectacular neighborhood landmark. Walter Smedley, the building’s architect, was a founder of the venerable T-Square Club and designed a number of Register-listed buildings, including the East Park Canoe House and listed-but-lost Northern National Bank.

Historic (c. 1899)

Before (c.2008, courtesy James Wright, PEC)

After (c.2010, courtesy James Wright, PEC)

I Like Mod: Polls Close Soon!

You have until this Monday, January 10 to vote for your favorite midcentury Philadelphia buildings and sites in our “I Like Mod” election.  CLICK HERE for the ballot.  Over a thousand votes have already been tallied, and more importantly, a number of excellent write-in candidates have emerged. But we know there are many more out there.  Enjoy the slideshow below featuring some of these write-ins, and send us your own favorite dark horses! The winning buildings will be announced online and in our Winter 2011 newsletter in early February.

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From the Inbox

Back in July, our Unlisted series featured the former Schlichter Jute Cordage Works factory (click here to view the original post).  We just got the following note in response, and wanted to share.  Thank you, Mr. Casale, for a wonderful mystery solved!

Dear Ben Leech/ Preserve Philly/field notes,

my name is Cody Casale, the grandson of Martin Stein, who is the president of Sterling Paper company. The other night I was randomly browsing google images and came across your article about my Grandfathers factory.

I am pleased to read what you wrote, the illustration of the building and also the photos you shot. I would like to add some of my knowledge about what I know, to inform you:

The paper company is still in business and my Grandfather has been struggling to keep it alive- but it is still going… union workers and all. The original signage that was on the top sides of the building said “it takes a golden effort to make a sterling product”. After a while, (about in 2001), that signage became old and the Philadelphia Mural Arts wanted to add some mystery to the building. I was getting ready to attend RISD, Rhode Island School of Design and wanted to help out with the project. Meg Saligman, one of the main artists from the philly mural arts went in and spoke with my grandfather about his past, and wrote down bold statements that he stated as he told his stories to her. She then used those statements and in a “subtle” manner (w/o runing the run down look of the building) had Tony (local graff. artist and myself) add the sayings, the paintings of my grandfather, my mother and myself, also the “1st, 2nd and 3rd” shift paintings. To this day, after the mural was finished- people would walk by the building in confusion wondering what it all means- asking my grandfather numerous questions. If it was up to him, he would of rather of had his original Sterling Paper slogan redone, in crisp black/white paint.

I really appreciate your effort to acknowledge your awareness of the building and will be sure to pass your article on to my grandfather and aunt (president and vice president).


Cody Casale