NW Corner of Chestnut and Juniper
In 1827, the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was facing a problem. They had been working out of this dinky little building just north of Seventh and Market, but the demand for coinage was at an unbelievably high level and they could not keep up no matter how many additions or pieces of new equipment they acquired. In December of 1828, the workers at the Mint begged the chairman of the House of Representatives Mint committee to build them a new place, much larger and more modern of any mint in existence.
Congress took the matter very seriously, feeling guilty that they allowed the country's monies to be manufactured in an oversized rowhouse for the last 30 years. On March 2nd, 1829, they passed a bill creating a new U.S. Mint, this time so big that it would fill the country's needs for generations. They purchased a huge plot of land at the northwest corner of Juniper and Chestnut, which was at that time a no-mans' land. Here is where the mega-mint would be built.
For such a monumental design, they needed a monumental architect. Enter William Strickland. This motherfucker didn't fuck around. He gave them a white marble Grecian Temple dedicated to the manufacture of Scrilla that had some of the biggest interior spaces you could find outside of a cathedral. On July 4th, 1829, the few Masons left in Philly (Freemasonry was in decline at the time) got their aprons on and laid the cornerstone for this monster. Construction took 4 years.
|When it was new. It may not look like much now, but in 1833 this was a big fucking deal.|
Decades passed and the mint stayed in continuous use, as so it was designed. The city grew though and past it. Technological upgrades and additional mints in other cities (some designed by Strickland) kept the building useful up into the 1870's.
In 1881, the building was falling apart and started to become too small to meet the demands of the age. An addition was planned that was to be constructed in 1885. Congress authorized the design and threw some money at it, but it ended up becoming a classic Philadelphia Dead-Ass Proposal. Instead, Congress just said, "Fuck it, build a new one.", and they did in 1901.
|The planned addition. I'll tell ya, it's not bad!|
|The mint looking pretty haggard in 1895.|