316 Chestnut Street
|Holy Fucking Furness! Pic by early Philaphile Frank Taylor.|
On May 24th, 1871 the Pennsylvania Legislature lost it's damn mind. It passed a whole bunch of special acts chartering new private companies and threw dough at them to get started. Of the many companies to begin that day, Guarantee Trust and Safe Deposit Company, was the most ambitious. The goal was a bank that could not only handle conventional accounts but also handle stocks, bonds, securities, trusts, wills, commercial banking, and the assaying of valuable objects. They needed a building that would be a damn fortress. The culture of the time was fire-obsessed, so not one splinter of wood could be used in the construction.
If you want a big stone fortress, who ya gonna call? Third Level Grandmaster of the Incredible Frank Furness! There were many guidelines to work with. The structure needed impenetrable personal vaults in addition to the standard bank vault. It also needed to be well lit on the main banking floor while still being an woodless box of stone. Furness was like,"Motherfucker, that's easy. I'm gonna give it a kick-ass tower! Sheeiit, why have one tower when you can have two? Also, I could put cool-ass crap all over it!". And he did.
|That's Carpenter's Hall/Demolition Bringer on the right.|
This is the kind of building that would last centuries just sitting there because it is a giant pile of metal, brick, and stone. That didn't stop it from being wiped off the goddamn face of the Earth and human memory in 1957. You see, historic Carpenter's Hall was behind it. Therefore, when the Independence National Grass Lot collection was being built, the Guarantee Trust Building (at this point occupied by Tradesmen's Bank which is now PNC) was destroyed after a year of bombardment with wrecking balls.
|1957. The main vault was the last to go. Is it just me or does Carpenter's Hall seem to be smugly looking down at us?|
|What the fuck?|
The second mystery is how this building is presented in literature of the period. Baxter's Panoramic Business Directory from 1879 labels the building as the National Bank of the Republic.
Too bad that this building could not have been saved. The vision for the Independence National Historical Grass Lot Collection was one of a weird Colonial-looking Philadelphia with lots of grass between small buildings. Gigantic stone and metal kick-ass looking 19th Century buildings interspersed between them would have ruined the effect, therefore they were destroyed, no matter their beauty or historical significance. Fuck that shit.
|Pic by early Philaphile Moses King. Check out the back of the Bullitt Building behind Carpenter's Hall.|
|1950. The surface lots are a result of the beginning of demolition for the Grass Lot Collection.|