Monday, January 9, 2012

Old-ass Building of the Week-- January 9th

Lasher Printing Company II

1309 Noble Street

                       This is the building right here. One of my favorite buildings in the whole city, and that's saying something. The great gem of the Loft District... arguably the best building it has to offer. The Lasher Printing Company Building will make you a true believer in the Eraserhood and the Reading Viaduct. Just look at that shit. THIS is how you make a concrete building, modernist motherfuckers!
                       This beastoid is like the Art Deco sequel to the Jayne Building, the first building featured by Philaphilia. Its awesome facade is emblazoned with colorful shapes from the brief period of Native American design influence. Its location in a weirdly isolated place among major streets gives it an air of mystery. This thing KICKS ASS.
                       Look at that fucking tower up top. I don't what the purpose of that thing was and I don't give a shit. Its awesome! Something cool about the building that you can't see in that crappy picture above is that it has these cool-ass curved balconies running up and down on both sides.
                      George F. Lasher was a badass. This guy started as a crappy Notary Public as a young man and by the time of his death had a printing empire running out of the first Lasher Printing Company Building at 147 North 10th Street, along with a number of factories and commercial buildings he had built in the meantime. Plans for expansion of the printing company into a larger building had begun before his death, but it was his successor that was able finally get it built.
                     At the time, all kinds of printing houses and large factories were being built up North Broad Street. This was the area were the new printing monolith would go. For the design, he went to Phillip Tyre, Juggernaut of Art Deco Megatecture. Tyre had been a student of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts down the street so he knew that a cool building was supposed to look like. By 1928, the Great Castle of Callowhill was born.
                   Through the mid and late 20th Century, Lasher and other printing companies printed a shitload of literature of different types that got distributed all over the world. Shit, even Working Mother Magazine was being printed there. At the tail end of the century, other types of companies came in, most notably a sporting goods manufacturer.
                    In 1999, a Brooklyn-based realtor bought the place and sort of half-renovated it. In the mid 00's there were rumors of it being turned into loft apartments like other buildings in the appropriately-named Loft District, but that never panned out. The building ended up becoming another telecommunications carrier hotel just like the behemoth across the street. This sexy bitch finally got historically certified in 2004.

"I'm huge!!"
                    As much as I love this building, I can see how it might not work as a residential property. First, its hard to get to by car unless you're driving north on North Broad Street. Noble Street only runs East and is attached to the Reading Viaduct when crossing 13th Street. Second, the Terminal Commerce Building makes a assload of deafening noise pretty much 24 hours a day. That would get annoying after awhile.
                  One day in the future when the Reading Viaduct becomes the best elevated park in the world (and it will), Noble Street is where the Broad Street entrance will be. A half-assed version of that park currently stands there, covered in rocks and shit. Once that park becomes a reality, hopefully someone will take the old Lasher Building and restore the fucking balls out of it. The facade is a little beat-up looking nowadays; the bold colors are peeling and chunks of concrete are falling off. Restore! Restore!!!!!!!



  1. I work in the big yellow monster next door and I freaking love this building. Even though I'm usually looking at it from the broad street side it is still a sight to behold. I can only imagine what it was like when it was all shiny and new.

  2. GroJ:
    An excellent selection to start off the week! The tower was no doubt built to hide the roof-top water tank, which had to be on every tall industrial building both for fire prevention and water pressure. These steel and iron structures were usually just stuck on the top of a building without thought to the style, but by the 1920's smarter architects were incorporating them into their designs with great results. In Phladelphia, the largest and most sucessful of these towers was in the late Sears Roebuck Building on Roosevelt Blvd.(Built 1920; Imploded 1995)
    Keep up the good work.

  3. I friggin love this building. LOVE IT. Always wondered what the story was behind it. Thanks Mr Philaphilia Blogger Person. My 81yo Dad was printer in the city for a while. I wonder if he worked here?

  4. There's no such thing as the Loft District.

  5. Similarly, there's no such thing as "Chinatown North."

  6. This one is second only to the Drake as my fave Philly Art Deco building. I took a load of photos of it about 8 years ago, which I'll now have to go and dig up.

  7. LOVE This one....the weird location makes it even better..took a lot of balls to sell a great building thats hard to see.

  8. I have a recommendation for an Old-ass Building of the Week: there is an awesome boat house building on the Schuylkill off of Kelly drive just south of West Huntington Park Ave. It is next to St. Joe's boat house, and is occupied by the Philadelphia Police, but seems to be crumbling.

  9. Walking right down Noble Street is a not so great way to get to the worlds greatest elevated park. Especially when you consider that the right-of-way goes right under Broad Street.

  10. This reminds me of the House on Haunted Hill. Well, the house they used in the remake.

  11. Could be coming to market, although I doubt they own the bricks...