Monday, December 5, 2011

Mystery Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- December 5th

World Communications Charter School

512 South Broad Street

Mystery AND Butt-Fugly? FUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...
                This building is ugly as fuck now but probably looked pretty nice at some point. If you look closely at the facade, you can see how this was once a decent-looking building but has been Butt-Fuglified by crappy renovations over the years. This pile of dung makes the Avenue of the Arts look like the Avenue of the Farts.
               Broad and South should be a mighty corner in this city, instead its just a huge disappointment.. one nice-looking building (Arts Bank), a huge empty lot (about to be covered by an ugly building), a mangled-up church, and this Factory of Forgettable Fuck-ups. The problem with this building is... no one seems to know exactly when it was built and who the fuck designed it.
               The northwest corner of Broad and South used to be home to the so-called "Red Mansion", also known as the Barton Mansion, along with its big-ass sideyard.

If it WAS red, there's no way to know.
                        The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission says the building was constructed in 1925, but other than that, no record of what was going on with it can be found until 1950. Here's a picture of it in 1927.. as you can see, it looked a hell of a lot better back then.

It all the way to the left.
                   The windows were of immense size and the first floor was storefronts. Its hard to tell what it was being used for because no one ever bothered to take a picture of the whole thing... just the edges of it appear in pictures of other things.

There it is on the left in this pic of the Johnson/Darley Mansion in 1936.
                      From what I can tell, the building was occupied by the R. Jacobs Clothing Company in 1950, A & A Clothes in 1956, Novelty Printing Company in 1969, and Guilford Graphics Inc in 1986. In far more recent history, this building was home to the McCarrie School of Health Sciences and Technology Inc, a small Associates Degree-bearing for profit college that gave out licenses in Dental Hygiene and shit like that. They went to shit in 1998, the same year World Communications Charter School moved in. I wish World Communications Charter School was as goofy as charter school names get in this city, but its definitely not.
                    This leaves the eternal question... who or what was the building's first occupant? Who was the fucking architect? Why were the huge windows reduced in size down to little portholes? It's a goddamn mystery. The ground floor of the facade now has these silly images on it that say "Question. Learn. Change." on them. To me, they mean: Question where this building came from, Learn what the facade is supposed to look like, and Change the facade to make it look nice again.
                    Anyone out there know the origin of this building!?!?!? Help!!!


  1. I never understand the whole filling-in-windows trend in Philly. That building would look lovely (as would the classrooms) if the windows were the original size!

    Sadly, I doubt Kenny Gamble cares.

  2. Judging by his other projects around town, Gamble cares about one thing: his own bottom line. Smaller windows mean cheaper heating and easier maintenance, aesthetics be damned.

  3. Reuben & Frank P. Jacobs Clothing seems to have occupied that corner at least as early as 1918 so I'm going to guess it is them(R. Jacobs) that are the originals.