Commercial & Industrial Buildings

In 2008, the former Warner Brothers Film Distribution Center at 228-38 N. 13th Street was  individually listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Built in 1946, it was designed by William Harold Lee, a prolific theater architect. The Moderne building was designed to store and distribute motion picture reels. It now serves as national headquarters for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

Another striking Moderne design, the former Bornot Steam Cleaners building was built in 1948 at 3497 Ridge Avenue, across from Laurel Hill Cemetery. Its utilitarian massing is enlivened by two-tone brick banding and a streamlined, prow-like corner.

The former Rosenau Brothers Building was built in 1948 as a dress-making factory.  Designed by Sydney Jelinek, the structure at Fox and Roberts Streets was later occupied by the Tasty Baking Company. It is currently slated for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the former Tastykake site.

In 1951, Philco added this imposing Moderne television factory to their sprawling industrial complex centered near Tioga and C Streets. Now occupied by the Case Paper Company, whose curlicue signage compliments the building’s sleek midcentury lines, the building is one of the few surviving pieces of this lost Philadelphia institution.

One of the region’s first supermarket chains, the Penn Fruit Company is today best remembered for its series of iconic barrel-vaulted grocery stores constructed during an aggressive expansion campaign in the 1950s.  Interestingly, these stores were individually designed by a number of different architects, who each treated the signature building form in unique ways. This rare example is in near-mint condition, designed by George Neff in 1954 and now operated by the Thirftway chain at 5147 Frankford Avenue.

The Philadelphia Bulletin Building at 3100 Market Street was PSFS architect George Howe’s last commission, designed in 1955 with Louis McAllister.  Built to house the presses and newsroom of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, the building once sported a giant rooftop signboard which flashed headlines across the Schuylkill River into Center City.  It is now owned by Drexel University.

The Walnut Street Parking Garage was built 1964-67 at 32nd and Walnut Streets, on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Associates, its poured-in-place diamond grid is one of the firm’s most structurally expressive designs.

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