Monday, December 26, 2011

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- December 26th

Thomas B. Lovatt & Sons

220 South 8th Street

Survivor: Eighth Street
                   This building is pretty kick-ass and you've got to appreciate how it managed to survive the total destruction and rebuilding of the block where it lives numerous times... but there is a dubiousness to this beast's survival... its just the front fifth of the original building. 
                   Back in the early 20th Century, Thomas B. Lovatt and Sons was the king shit of auctioneers of Philadelphia. These guys auctioned off everything... land, property, estates, businesses, you name it. Give them enough time, and they'd auction your own disembodied asscheek back to you. In 1906, the business needed a new building that could hold their offices AND all the shit they were trying to auction off.
                   They didn't need to look very far for an architect because Lovatt family member George Ignatius Lovatt Senior just happened to be the most prominent church and cathedral architect in the entire region. This guy was used to designing big-ass buildings of worship, MANY of which still stand today. A little dinky building like this was easy as shit for him. He accidentally farted this design after eating a bad burrito. 
                   The result was that kick-ass facade in the picture above and then a building behind it that would snake all the way back to Darien Street. 

There it is, slightly to the right in this pic from 1930. You can see how far back it goes.
                    Less than 30 years after the Lovatt building was built, the block started into upheaval. The corner of 8th and Locust got completely demolished and rebuilt, but the building managed to be just slightly out of the way. 

Subway's gotta turn somewhere. The Lovatt Building is all the way to the right. This corner if now the site of Major.
                       By the early 1970's, 75% of the block was either slated for demolition or had some crappy single-storey retail building on it. 

Lovatt Building surviving (empty) into 1971.
                       By 1977, the ENTIRE block bounded by 8th, 9th, Locust, and Walnut was GONE save this building and its buddy next door. The long rear section of the building was taken down around this time from what I can tell.

Yes, this picture again from 1977. The side of the front section of the Lovatt Building is on the right.
                   In 1979, this building was semi-historically certified, as it  "Contibutes to the Historic District" of Society Hill. In the same year, the ugly-ass Postal Workers' House was built right next door. 

The caption that originally went with this picture commented on the contrast between the brand-new building and the abandoned shit that was next door, as if it was a bad thing that these two buildings survived.
                       In 2000, the parking garage attached to the Wills Eye Hospital was built just north of this beast. The building got historically certified (finally) in that year. Even after all that change, the block is not done. Site Prep has begun on a new HUP building that will be built over that parking garage, therefore causing this little auction house to survive yet another upheaval. 

Notice they include the Lovatt Building in this render but not the crappy Postal Worker's House, which should be visible.
                   The Lovatt Auction House building probably didn't manage to survive this long by coincidence... the architect's son, George I. Lovatt Junior, was the city architect for the entire middle of the 20th Century. He probably had something to do with the mysterious ability of his family's building to outlast the generations. Well, good. The building is in use today as a doctor's office and apartments and will probably live on for at least a whole nother 105 years. Good fucking job. 

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