Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- November 30th

Manufacturer's Club Clubhouse

1409 Walnut Street

Holy shit! Picture from the PAB.
                            This beautiful-ass building only stood for a little over 20 years. This beast was a masterpiece of design that no living architect is capable of producing. The Bedford stone facade would be impossible to duplicate today at any reasonable cost. This building was truly a wonder. 
                            The Manufacturer's Club of Philadelphia was one of the myriad of gentleman's clubs that Philadelphia once boasted. Businessmen could join this one for just a $100 fee, which was different from other clubs in that you didn't need a fancy lineage or special dispensation of some kind to join. The club was founded on May 19th, 1887 and this building started construction by October of that year. That's pretty quick, considering that they had to raise $150,000 in that time. That's 3.4 million dollars today!
                            The design came from the Architectural Megabeasts from the firm of Hazelhurst and Huckel and took over 3 years to complete. The Manufacturers used the clubhouse for endless meetings, banquets, and getting wasted on absinthe or whatever the fuck they imbibed. Only 20 years later, the club said "fuck this shit" and held a competition for the design of a new and MUCH larger clubhouse. The new 180-foot-tall clubhouse built at the corner of Broad and Walnut and encompassing this building's footprint was built in 1911 and still stands today as condos with a Banana Republic at the bottom. 

The new place. That big-ass cornice, the largest in the city at the time, is long gone.  Pic from
                      The fickle-ass Manufacturer's Club only used the new clubhouse for a decade or so before they moved out to Fort Washington in 1925 and renamed themselves the Manufacturer's Golf and Country Club in 1933. You can still join today, but it's gonna cost you way more than $100.
                      The Manufacturer's Club Clubhouse of old had an amazingly fleeting existence. Could you imagine a cool-ass building be built today that would be taken down and replaced only 20 years later? That's nuts. That's like if we demolished the BNY Mellon Bank Center. Here's some more pics.

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