District Health Center No. 1

500 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia
Montgomery & Bishop, 1959

Significance: District Health Center No. 1 is one of ten neighborhood health centers built in Philadelphia after World War II as part of an ambitious municipal construction campaign designed for a peak population of two million residents. Many of the era’s most acclaimed architects were commissioned to design health centers, branch libraries, and police and fire stations across the city. Montgomery & Bishop’s sleek, colorful design for DHC #1 stands as one of the most architecturally significant of these buildings. Its glazed brick façade and broad ribbon windows appear to hover over a foundation of colorful glass blocks, and its curving corners and slab-like cornice epitomize midcentury style.

Threat: Like the Police Administration Building, the City is proposing to vacate District Health Center No. 1 and relocate its facilities to West Philadelphia. The site will likely be marketed for redevelopment, and currently no protections against demolition are in place.

Recommendations: The building’s prominent location at Broad and Lombard Streets is conducive to any number of new uses for the building. Conversion of its Lombard Street surface lot to a public plaza would both increase the building’s visibility and create an important neighborhood amenity. Listing on the National Register of Historic Places would make the property eligible for preservation tax credits.

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