Monday, January 16, 2012

Mystery Building of the Week-- January 16th

Edwin Hart Livery Company Building

631 North Broad Street

What the motherfuck is going on here?
                 What's with this building? Its obviously very old and seems to have been ignored over the years. All of the other buildings on its block from its same era have been long demolished. How did this one manage to survive? Worse yet, who designed it and when the fuck was it built?
                 Luckily enough, at least we know WHY it was built. The plaque on the middle of the facade reads "E. Hart Stable". The old maps corroborate that this was indeed the location of the Edwin Hart Livery Company. The other users of the building over the years are also known. Edwin Hart Livery was there from at least 1875 to at most 1900. The Banker Brothers Car Company was in there in 1902. Prest-O-Lite Gas Tanks were distributed here in 1903. The Cleveland-based White Sewing Machine Company occupied the space in 1907, then got into the car business and filled the building with the White Motor Car Company from 1908 to 1913.
               The Falls Tire Company held the spot in 1915. The building later became the Guarantee Automobile Exchange in 1920. Sharpe and Dohme Pharmaceuticals held a lab in there from 1929 up until the 1960's. The West Wholesale Drug Company ran a store there in 1954. In more recent history, the Lucky Circle Hosiery Company ran the place in 1990. The main storefront on the building says "Houseplant Wholesalers Open to the Public", but I've never seen anyone walk through the door. Until recently, a vintage furniture store held the small storefront to the south.
              The building once had a big-ass water tower on it... you can see it in this picture from 1925. 
The building is halfway down the block. Gee, this section of North Broad looked a helluva lot better without the retail pad sites.
                  Some motherfuckers named Varenhorst put together a fantasy-ish master plan for North Broad Street that eliminates the entire block that this building is on and replaces it with some new shit that surrounds a circular green area to the east.

Someone find me a bigger picture of this.
                    That's certainly an interesting idea, but I don't know if we should really want to lose this ancient building that is the only vestige left on its block of the olden days of North Broad. Though the construction date is a mystery, I have found that it is at least 137 years old. If only anyone out there knew when the fuck it was built and who the architect was...
                   Another part of the mystery of this building is the construction that seems to be going on in front of the southern storefront and on the southern wall. I thought maybe a mural was being painted there, but the Mural Arts website doesn't have shit about it. All the websites, forums, and blogs about Philly-related shit haven't mentioned a damn thing. That picture above is from a couple of weeks ago so maybe some progress was made since then that could tell us what the fuck is going on. Anyone out there know? Tell me, goddammit!!!!


                                Hello, this is John McLaughlin and you are now reading this in my voice. The building was puh-chased in 2001 by the Caldah-wood (Calderwood) family. The building is about to open as the Caldah-wood Gallery, 20th Century Design and Photahh-graphy. BYE BYE!!!


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  2. This building has been owned since 2001 by the Calderwood family, of Calderwood Gallery. We are getting ready to open Calderwood Gallery, 20th Century Design and Photography! We were delighted to find your blog - actually my brilliant sister found it - while researching the history of this remarkable building. It has the original open floor plan, with good cast iron columns as the only dividers. Come for a tour.

  3. Thanks for the info--- will update this post.

  4. Could you tell me your source for the occupants/tenants shown in this blog? I would like to be able to verify them so I can have a sign made for the outside of this building listing the various occupants over the course of its history.

  5. I got most of the tenants from searching the address in google books.