Youth Study Center/Barnes

Since 1826, children who were convicted of crimes in Philadelphia were housed separately from adult criminals. For example, there was the House of Refuge at 22nd and Brown briefly mentioned in our website article here. Children awaiting trial, however, were still detained with adult criminals. In 1901 the Pennsylvania Society for the Protection of Children from Cruelty was established and the City Councils passed the House of Detention Act, which, as the bill's name suggests, recommended the building of a combined juvenile detention center and court to keep child and adult criminal detainees separated. The view, on paper, turned from punishment to education and love as a way to reform. In 1909 a House of Detention was built at 22nd and Arch Street, a beautiful four-story building of granite, limestone, brick, and terra cotta. No name was placed on the building so as not to mark its purpose in the residential neighborhood, nor leave any stigma on the young temporary inhabitants. 

Photo from 1909 looking northeast at the Juvenile Court and House of Detention at 22nd and Arch Streets.
Same view today of the apartment building it has become. The rooftop exercise yard has been closed in. For more on this building see the Hidden City article from 2012 here.

Around the time that the House of Detention was finished, work had begun on the new Fairmount Parkway, a diagonal grand boulevard that would cut across, and wipe out, the regular street grid of Philadelphia. 

Portion of 1875 City Atlas showing the residential block that became the Youth Study Center. Vine Street is horizontal on the bottom and Wood Street just north of Pearl Street. 20th is on the right and 21st on the left. The Logan Square Presbyterian Church is at the northwest corner of 20th and Vine Streets. This block was completely built out with residences as far back as the 1850s. 
Photo from 1895 from outside link here.
This Presbyterian Church was built at the northwest corner of 20th and Vine in 1849. It was purchased in 1910 and demolished as part of the Fairmount Parkway project. Estimates place the total number of buildings demolished for the Parkway at 1,300-2,000, including homes, schools, churches, businesses, and industries.
Portion of 1934 aerial photo showing, on the right edge, the typical mid-19th century rowhomes occupying what is left of the residential block seen in the 1875 map

By the 1930s it was realized that the Detention Center at 22nd and Arch was too small. 

It was decided to build a new detention center at 20th and Callowhill, later changed to 20th and the Ben Franklin Parkway. Both sites were opposed by Paul Cret, the head of the Art Jury, the committee tasked with ensuring proper aesthetic uses of the Parkway. Despite these objections, in 1944 the City Council approved the planned construction of the detention center on the Parkway. The nobility of its purpose, to turn around wayward youth, was felt compatible with the nobility of the parkway, with the stipulation that any building not look like a penal institution. The Municipal Court had been built in the classical style one block away in 1941, and this was another impetus to having the detention center nearby. After two years of further public debate, local architect firm Carroll, Grisdale, and van Allen were given the commission to build the "Youth Study Center" on the Parkway, parallel to the Parkway.


There was a mandatory 200 foot setback from the Parkway for buildings, so the landscaping, designed by Horace Fleisher, included allees of London Plane trees fronting the Parkway. Behind these trees was to be the first modernistic building on the Parkway. The Youth Study Center, completed in 1952, consisted of two reinforced steel and concrete buildings with a central courtyard. The five-story building on the Parkway was sheathed in limestone panels with aluminum framed strip windows and two tiers of balconies. The entrance to the complex was at the three-story brick building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The two buildings were connected by two-story pedestrian bridges on the second and third floors. 

The Youth Study Center provided a secure, short-term residential detention facility for youths ages 13 to 20 awaiting court hearings. The Center offered social and educational programs to steer young offenders from further illegal activities.

In 1952 sculptor Waldemar Raemisch, had completed The Preacher, a stone sculpture for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive. He was chosen to create two pieces for placement on the Parkway side of the building.

1952 photo of the Parkway side 
The claustrophobia produced by the few strip windows is counteracted by the open space provided by the balconies, but how many penal institutions have balconies?
The balcony windows would eventually be boarded up.
Another 1952 photo showing the texture provided by the limestone panels. At a distance it still looked like a concrete bunker.
View looking southwest in 1959 at the Pennsylvania Avenue building. The angled windows on the third floor are in the classrooms. The 9th District Police Station was being built directly across Pennsylvania Avenue at this time.
View of the Youth Study Center in 1987 looking over the outdoor spaces on the south side of the concrete granary.
Cross section view of plans from "Hospital, School, Guardhouse" in Architectural Forum, February 1953
Overhead view of plans from "Hospital, School, Guardhouse" in Architectural Forum, February 1953
Classroom on the 3rd floor of the Pennsylvania Avenue building
Dayroom in Parkway building in 1953.
The Franklin Institute rises above the trees in the background.
Not enough beds.
Photo from a critical story about overcrowding the Evening Bulletin in 1963
Near the end in 2007: the uninviting building surrounded by a wall, the wall being at least more like Girard College than the Eastern State Penitentiary.
1984 photo showing the two sculptural groups
The sculptural groups The Great Mother, foreground, and The Great Doctor, relocated in 2008 from the Youth Study Center to the School of the Future at 4021 Parkside Avenue.

The Youth Study Center was plagued by overcrowding, and by physical damage due to financial issues and repeated attempts at escape. In theory, youths were to remain there for ten days or less, until placement could be made elsewhere. In practice, their stays were extended if there were no placement openings. A new facility was needed. The settlement of a legal case provided the final impetus for the move.

In 2004 Montgomery County Judge Stanley Ott gave legal approval to move the Barnes art collection from suburban Lower Merion to the Parkway. The Juvenile Detention Center moved to a new building at 48th and Haverford Avenue, and the Youth Study Center on the Parkway was demolished. That same year work begun on a new building to house the Barnes collection, and this opened in 2012. Message: although you may pass on to eternity, the wishes in your will are not eternal.

The new Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center in West Philadelphia.
It opened in December, 2012, having cost $110 million, with beds for 150 residents, ten classrooms, a gym, health clinic, outdoor recreation space, and Family Court rooms. If you are keeping track of dates, in the interval from 2008 to 2012 the Youth Study Center was housed in the former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute at 3232 Henry Avenue in East Falls.
Looking northwest in 2020.
Compare to the 1952 photo of the Youth Study Center in inset
authored by Joe Walsh

Matthias Baldwin Park 

423 N 19th St 

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to preserve the Matthias Baldwin Park

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