Archive for May, 2011

Unlisted: S.S. Kresge Co.

Written and drawn by Ben Leech

Unlisted is a series of portraits highlighting unique 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: 1520-22 Chestnut Street; 1521-23 Sansom Street

Architect: Silverman & Levy

Built: 1934

This  little Art Deco assemblage began life in 1934 as a S.S. Kresge Co. store, the five-and-dime forerunner of today’s K-Marts.  Designed by the firm of Silverman & Levy with frontage on both Chestnut and Sansom Streets, it’s hard to decide which end has been more abused over the years by new tenants with ten-foot ladders.  But above their ground-floor degradations, both elevations feature surprisingly intact upper stories with bold and playful machine-age ornament echoing the nearby WCAU Building and the sadly-lost  Trans Lux Theater that once stood directly across Chestnut Street.

But even the ground floors have their own curious charm.  Long before the dubiously-named “Eternity Fashion” outlet occupied a portion of the Chestnut Street side, the space was occupied by a pub named Pub, which left behind a nice little terrazzo vestibule.  And on the Sansom Street side, a bizarre homage to (or rip-off of) Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1948 V.C. Morris Store in San Fransisco turned up sometime in the 1980s.  All in all, a forgivable blend of quirk and class (though how nice would a full restoration be?).

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New additions to the Philadelphia Register

At last Friday’s Historical Commission meeting, five new properties were approved for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places: four neighborhood bank buildings and the historic interiors of the Family Court Building, providing protection from demolition and adverse alteration. For more information on the designation process and criteria for inclusion, CLICK HERE.

Left: PSFS South Broad Branch, 2001-07 South Broad Street (Mellor, Meigs & Howe, 1924) CLICK HERE for the nomination.

Center: PSFS West Philadelphia Branch, 15 S. 52nd Street (Mellor, Meigs & Howe, 1926) CLICK HERE for the nomination.

Right: PSFS Lehigh Branch, 1025 W. Lehigh Avenue (Mellor, Meigs & Howe, 1924) CLICK HERE for the nomination.

Rosenbaum Bank, 603-05 S. 3rd Street (Magaziner & Potter, 1907)

Family Court Interiors and Murals, 1801 Vine Street (John T. Windrim and William R.M. Keast, architects, 1941) CLICK HERE and HERE for the nomination.


Living on a Prayer

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Mayor Nutter channeled Bon Jovi to sing the praises of historic preservation at the recent ribbon-cutting for the Presser Senior Apartments, a 2011 Preservation Achievement Award recipient: “Given the incredible history of this city, you have to pay attention to preservation,” he said. “You have to hold on to what you have.”

Accident?  The former Presser Home for Retired Music Teachers and the adjacent Nugent Home were both saved from demolition by concerned neighbors in 2005.  Presser is the first to be rehabilitated into senior housing, and with 200 people on a waiting list for the 45-unit building, the Nugent Home shouldn’t be far behind.  So yes, Mr. Nutter, we’re half way there.

Read more about the ribbon-cutting from NewsWorks HERE.

Read more about the Alliance’s Preservation Achievement Awards HERE.