Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lost Building of the Week-- February 8th

Denckla Building

1101 Market Street

1911 at 11th and Market. Pic from the PAB.
                           Was this building named by a Klingon? This cool-ass building was built as part of the 1100 Super-block of Market Street in the early 20th Century. While cool as shit when it was built, the building fell into obscurity and stood as a ruin into the 1970's.
                           In the early 20th Century, the 1100 block of Market Street was the SHIT. The South side had the super-massive Snellenburg's Department Store and the North side had the Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia Inquirer Building, Market Street National Bank, and this, The Denckla Building.

The Superblock in its prime. The Denckla Building is on the right.
                      The weird-ass name Denckla Building most likely comes from the Denckla family, one of Philadelphia's old families that never got rich enough to be considered for the list of "Old Philadelphians". The family came to the primordial city/village of Philadelphia in the 1700's, kicking trustafarian asses until they pushed their way into being associates, but not really members, of Philadelphia High Society a century later. Descendents of the Dencklas live on to this day, probably having no clue that a building bearing their name stood at a prominent corner in Philadelphia for seven decades.
                       This Masterpiece of Market Street Cornering was designed by the Postmaster General of Specialized Badasses, John Torrey Windrim, and was built in 1906... it was the final piece of the puzzle needed to complete the Superblock. The offices of such famous Philadelphians as bankergineerchitect Otto C. Wolf and famous theater architect John D. Allen were located there, along with the downtown offices of the Crane Company.
                      In the mid-20th Century, Market East went to absolute shit, sort of like it is now. The cool-ass buildings on the Superblock got altered beyond recognition and fell into dirtiness and disrepair.

The Superblock in the late 50's. Denckla is second to the right.
                        At this point, the Denckla Building was still in use but looking like shit.

In 1960 with mangled ground floor. The Inquirer and Market Street National Bank buildings were replaced with a 20th Century Butt-Fugly by this point. The Empty Lot next door was the remains of a cool building that was replaced by a super-massive parking garage that got replaced by the Gallery.
                            The Denckla Building lasted up into the 1970's, when it was unceremoniously ripped down when Market East Station and the CCCC Tunnel were being built. You can see the hole that was the result in this scene from the 1981 movie Blow Out:

Reading Terminal Pilings on the right. Hole that used to be the Denckla Building on the extreme left.
                        After Market East Station and the CCCC Tunnel were complete, the corner stood as an empty lot until the federally-funded pork project known as One Reading Center was built in its place in 1984. Nowadays, we call it the Aramark Tower-- not a bad-looking building considering the year.
                        One day, if and when Market East and the Girard Estate block gets its fucking act together, the Superblock may one day rise again. The North side is most of the way there but the South side is a horrendous pile of crap. They should have just left the buildings that were there the fuck alone. Fuckers.

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