Historic Register Buildings
As of November 12, 2021 there is a new addition to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, and it is in the Baldwin Park neighborhood! It was, up until June of 2021, the oldest building in the neighborhood that had retained its original function. First, let's look at the other Philadelphia and national historic register buildings in the neighborhood.
For the history articles on the website I have been defining the immediate Baldwin Park neighborhood as being within two blocks of Baldwin Park, as opposed to the larger Baldwin Park neighborhood that is the term used for the former Franklin Town neighborhood (see here). Here are the designated buildings and a brief description of the registers.
Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, established 1956.
including historic districts and streets, designates 11,000 sites;
8 individual designations in the Baldwin Park neighborhood:
United States Mint (now part of the Community College of Philadelphia)
Wills Eye (Colonnade Condominiums)
Parkway Central Free Library
Middishade (1600 Callowhill Street)
Granary (Tidewater Sonder hotel)
National Register of Historic Places, established 1966
60 historic districts, 20,000 total buildings in Philadelphia
583 individual designations in Philadelphia, 7 in the Baldwin Park neighborhood:
Graham and Laird Factories (demolished)
Harrington Machine Works (1666 Callowhill Street)
National Historic Landmarks, established 1960
67 in Philadelphia, zero in the Baldwin Park neighborhood
You might think that a national designation would be more powerful than a local designation, but the national designation incentivizes but doesn't require preservation, while the Philadelphia designation generally prevents unsympathetic alterations and demolitions. The national register entitles developers to apply for federal, state, and sometimes local tax credits that make adaptive reuse financially feasible. A building might initially only be on the local register, but once it is up for redevelopment, a builder may nominate it for the national register in order to apply for the tax credits. For more on the process and the results see the outside article here from Curbed Philly, here from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, and here from the City of Philadelphia.
I will arrange the historic registered buildings in the Baldwin Park neighborhood in three groups, the first four being indisputably historic buildings. Underlined words are links to our website article on that topic.
The first United States Mint was located on 7th Street between Arch and Market Streets, which is the current location of the plaque in the photo below. The second mint building was just across Chestnut Street from what is now Macy's, and the third is our neighborhood building. The Philadelphia mint functions moved to a new building at 5th and Arch Streets in 1969. In 1971 our third mint building was turned over to the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), which had been founded in 1964 and was holding classes in the former Snellenburg department store building at 11th and Market. Classes began in the mint building in 1973, and when the West and Bonnell buildings on campus were completed in 1983, the Snellenburg location was closed. Today the mint building holds CCP administrative offices, the library, and security services.
The architect was the supervising architect at the Department of the Treasury, James Knox Taylor.
The Free Library of Philadelphia system began in 1895, the "free" being in distinction to the subscription library founded by Benjamin Franklin. The Free Library was first located in City Hall, and in 1927 moved to its fourth home, as the Parkway Central Library, after 16 years of construction delays. It was designed by Julian Abele and placed on the local register in 1971.
This building was just four blocks from the Spring Garden Branch of the library system, as discussed in our article here.
The Family Court building just east of the Parkway Central Library had been planned as a paired structure with the library, but construction was not completed until 1941. The architect was John Windrim. It was placed on the local register in 1971, thus preserving its exterior, and the interior was placed on the local register in 2011, thus protecting the 35 New Deal murals within (for photos see 44-page registry nomination application here). In 2014, the Family Court functions were moved to a new building at 15th and Arch Street. In anticipation of redevelopment of the 1801 Vine Street building, designation on the National Register of Historic Places was sought and obtained. This allowed for tax credits to the developer. Development plans are ongoing.
The Family Court building just to the east of the Free Library on Logan Circle in 2020. The national designation was sought 53 years after the local designation in order to obtain the federal tax incentives for redevelopment. This redevelopment is still in process. The building has one of the few designated interiors on the local register.
The Parkway Central Library and the Family Court building are mirror images of each other. Tourists from Paris may also observe that the paired structures are almost mirror images of the paired Hôtel de Crillon and the Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Both date to the mid-18th century.
Another Philadelphia connection, besides the architecture: the Hôtel de Crillon is the building in which Ben Franklin and other United States representatives signed the treaty of alliance with France on February 6, 1778. This alliance turned the tide of the American Revolution in our favor.
The Rodin Museum is briefly covered in our article here. It was funded by movie mogul Jules Mastbaum (a graduate of the Central Manual Training School); designed by Paul Cret and Jacque Gréber; and completed in 1929. It was placed on the Philadelphia register in 1971. The museum is administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and contains one of the largest collections of Rodin's works outside of Paris.
The next two registered buildings are less neo-classical, but have architectural merit and rich histories.
The first Wills Eye Hospital, founded in 1832, was at 18th and Race Streets. The second Wills Eye Hospital at 1601 Spring Garden Street was completed in 1933. It was designed by architect John Windrim. It is sometimes called the Centennial Building, since the inscription of two dates above the columns notes the founding in 1832 and the construction of this building in 1932. In 1980 Wills Eye services moved to 9th and Walnut Streets. The Centennial Building was placed on both the national and local registers in 1984. It is now the Colonnade Condominiums.
The second Wills Eye Hospital at 1601 Spring Garden Street seen shortly after completion in 1932 (photo credit).
The Philadelphia High School for Girls was built next to Wills Eye Hospital at the same time.
The next three designated buildings were industrial and look the part.
In the foreground is the concrete granary at 411 North 20th Street as seen in 1981. This photo was included in the nomination form.
It was placed on the local register in 1981 and the national register in 1982. It is now the Tidewater Sonder hotel on the upper stories with windows and a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store on the bottom two floors at street level.
1600 Callowhill Apartments, placed on the local and national registers in 1987 as the Middishade clothing factory. It was designed by Frank Watson and Samuel Huckel and built in 1908.
The Lofts at Logan View Apartments today at 1666 Callowhill Street, placed on the national register in 1983 as the Harrington Machine Shop. In December 1983 the Philadelphia Historical Commission, finding "no redeeming architectural merit," denied designation. It is not on the local register.
There was one designated building that shows the distinction between the national and local registers, i.e. you can demolish a nationally designated building. The Graham and Laird factory buildings on 19th Street, just north of what is now Baldwin Park, were placed as a unit on the national register in 1978, but demolished in 1979 as part of the Franklin Town development. I did not find any discussion of these buildings in the minutes of the local Historical Commission during the years 1977 through 1979, so I assume there was no nomination form submitted.
The Graham Trimming Factory on the right was built in 1886 and the Laird Shoe Factory on the left in 1891. Both were designed by the firm of Geisinger and Hale. This photo was included in the national register nomination form.
Then there are the neighborhood buildings that were beautiful and arguably historic, but never attained designation and were demolished.
Remember, anyone can nominate any building for the historic registers!
The Preston Retreat, as seen after the third floor was added in 1909.
The original building was designed as a maternity hospital by Philadelphia architect Thomas Ustick Walter and completed in 1840. Its services were moved to Pennsylvania Hospital in 1961 and the building was demolished in 1963, seven years after the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places was established. The site is now occupied by the two towers of the City View Condominiums.
1908 photo of the new Garretson Hospital facing Hamilton Street.
This building occupied part of the land area now occupied by Units 1C and 1D of the townhouses bordering the north side of Baldwin Park. It also was demolished in the 1970s as part of the Franklin Town development.
This building would become part of the Garretson Hospital and then become the Temple Medical School. It was sold in 1963, demolished, and replaced with a surface parking lot. The site is now occupied by the southern tower of North x Northwest Apartments.
1907 photo of the new Carnegie library at the southwest corner of 17th and Spring Garden Streets. It was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer, who had also designed nearby Garretson Hospital. The library was demolished in the early 1970s as part of the Franklin Town project.
How could this escape designation!!!???
There were buildings in the neighborhood that, like 1600 and 1666 Callowhill Street, had the industrial chic look that seems to be making a comeback lately.
The Baldwin Locomotive Works building as seen in 1916 at the southeast corner of 19th and Hamilton Streets in what is now the northern half of Baldwin Park itself. This was originally used as a munitions plant, then a locomotive plant, a homeless shelter, a warehouse, then as a circuit-breaker factory.
Sketch from the 13 November 1927 Inquirer.
The 61 x 162 foot structure, occupied solely by Otis Elevator, would fill the block between Ralston and Buttonwood Streets on 19th Street. The basement and first floor were workrooms and storage; the second floor general offices; and the third floor executive offices. The facing is light-colored brick and the base and cornices are of Indiana limestone. A nice looking addition to the neighborhood, but as you may have guessed by now, demolished in the 1970s as part of the Franklin Town project.
Looking southeast at 16th and Spring Garden Street in 1901.
Part of the new mint is seen on lower right. There were many blocks of buildings just like this, extending from Broad to 17th Street, all demolished in 1937.
20th and Green Streets (current one-story cleaners)
4300 Ridge Avenue
South and Front Streets (former site of Downey's restaurant)
9th and Christian Streets (former site of Palumbo's restaurant)
(all photo credits here)
Part of the Spring Garden Historic District, so designated in 2000, lies within the Baldwin Park neighborhood. Examples discussed on our history pages include the Stetson Mansion (1717 Spring Garden), the Hoopes Mansion (1733 Spring Garden), the Carpenters' Union (1811-1817 Spring Garden), and the Spanish Chapel (1903 Spring Garden). The entire 430-page nomination for the district can be found at outside link here.
Current map (interactive here) showing Philadelphia historic districts, buildings, and streets in pink shading. The large box at top demarcates the Spring Garden Historic District.
Carlton Street between 18th and 19th Street is near bottom center. There are 484 blocks of historic paving surface in Philadelphia, of which the 1800 block of Carlton is one. This block is the only street in our neighborhood to be on the Philadelphia Historic Streets register.
Looking east down the 1800 block of Carlton Street in 2020.
This street and Belgian block are discussed more in our history article on horses.
On the right in this photo, on the south side of Carlton Street, is Hallahan Catholic Girls High School.
The newest member of the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places is our own Hallahan High School, designated as Catholic Girls High School in November 2021. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced in the spring of 2021 that the building would be sold, and a nomination for designation was quickly drawn up, using some of the information in our four-section website history article starting here. Fortunately, the building's exterior will be preserved. Unfortunately, the religious iconography within the building is not required to be preserved; hopefully any developer will be considerate of its history. Members of the Philadelphia Historical Commission noted that they had never seen as large an outpouring of support and emotion as they saw with the meetings about this building's nomination. There are over 40,000 alumnae, after all! It should be noted that Hallahan High School on 19th Street, and the Cathedral Parochial School on 18th Street, were considered as one unit for designation. The complete nomination form, sponsored by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, is at the outside link here.