700 Market Street
|OY!!! Noice!!! Image from the PAB.|
The Penn National Bank started on July 14th, 1828 as the Bank of Penn Township. Back before the 1854 consolidation of the coterminus city and county of Philadelphia, only the area from Vine to South, Delaware to the Schuylkill was actually Philadelphia. The rest was a series of townships, villages, and districts in Philadelphia County.
|See? One of them says "Penn Township".|
The Bank of Penn Township was so badass that they profited despite massive embezzlement from the inside. In 1864, the bank went national and renamed themselves Penn National Bank. Penn became well known for predicting and surviving financial panics. In the decade after the Civil War (aka the waaah of naaahthern aggression), Penn National Bank was one of the only banks that showed a profit every year. The company grew exponentially over this time.
In the early 1880's, it was time to go big. They purchased the southwest corner of 7th and Market, where the Graff House (house where Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence) was still standing, mangled beyond recognition and in really shitty shape. Penn National Bank respected that this was an historical site, and in order to make up for destroying it, promised an extra-ultra-kickass new building. In the 1880's, if you wanted a badass building, you went to Frank Furness.
Megatect of Ultimate Doom Frank Furness saw this building as a unique kind of challenge. He wanted to recall the 18th Century heritage of the space while also making an eye-catching design that would stand out as something special. He took an element of colonial architecture, Palladian windows, and went balls to the walls with them. Instead of just having one like old colonial-era buildings did, he put in four over-sizedass ones sticking out all over the place. Then he clad the whole motherfucker in stone and put those signature Furnessian details throughout. He even included a plaque commemorating the Graff House, right under where it says "Penn National Bank" on the facade. The Graff House was demolished on February 28th, 1883.
|The plaque. Image from the PAB.|
|Still looking pretty good at age 51 in 1935.|
In 1947, the National Shrines Commission visited the site and lamented the loss of the Graff House. Rumblings stirred about rebuilding the house, but it wouldn't happen until the Convention and Tourist Bureau would set aside $2 million in 1968 and get it built by 1975 (it took seven years?) The reproduction of the Graff House that stands there today is a conjectural design based on an eyewitness account of the original's demolition that stated how its western half and upper floor were not present when Jefferson resided there. Therefore, what stands at 700 Market now is in no way historically faithful to the original house. They should've rebuilt the Penn National Bank there instead.
As far as Central Penn National Bank goes, in 1969, they were big enough to move to their own butt-fugly Vincent Kling skyscraper with their name and logo on it. How do you go from a Furness to a Kling? They still exist today as part of Wells Fargo.
This is such a goddamn shame. Though it was unrecognizable when demolished, I'd rather have the shitty mangled-up first floor of this building than the crappy colonial reproduction that replaced it. Frank Furness is crying in Valhalla right now. There there, Frankie.