Monday, July 18, 2011

Old-ass Building of the Week-- July 18th

American Trust Loan and Guaranteed Investment Company

684 North Broad Street

This is it. Image from Google.
                  This pathetic-looking structure often goes unnoticed due to it's proximity to the Divine Lorraine. This building is from the ancient civilization that existed on North Broad Street when it was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America. Truly, it is a ruin. Even though it's been mangled beyond recognition and is more of a billboard mount than a building, it still evokes wonder about the time when it was a beautiful bank building in the city's premiere neighborhood.
                    The American Trust Loan and Guaranteed Investment Company began in 1886 with $250,000 and by 1890 had built and occupied this Ultra-Temple of Triple Cocks. It's North Broad location was intended to serve the richest new-money millionaires in America, most of which lived a few blocks away. The bank boasted 1500 safe deposit boxes and 24-hour guard duty. This was the kind of place you would put your family heirlooms so that your great-grandkids could withdraw them. The building was designed by Chancellors of Badass and Furness proteges Louis Carter Baker and Elijah James Dallett.

Look at this fucking thing! It's awesome! 1890 or 91.
There it is on the left in 1892. The construction site for what we now call the Divine Lorraine is on the right.
                    This building was considered the safest and most elegant in the city when it was in it's prime... but that prime didn't last. By the 1920's North Broad had lost all of it's super-rich motherfucking residents and the neighborhood started to become a automobile manufacturing and sales strip. The great castles built for the badass tycoons along the row sat in ruin. The American Trust Company Building became a bunch of storefronts and never looked back.

1927. Only 37 years after being built, the grand entrance was GONE. 
Already holding up a billboard by 1948.
                      This Lost Tomb of the King of Kickass might as well be considered a lost building. It now stands as the proof that SCRUB is full of shit. If they're sooooo concerned about large ads on historic buildings, why have they not demanded the removal of a billboard that has obscured half of a 121-year-old building for at least 63 years?
                      Improvements on North Broad only a few blocks south (600, 640, State Building Condos) are going to bring the old American Trust building to it's breaking point. Will future developers try to restore it or will they just say "fuck it" and make a pile of money off the big billboard and storefronts like the current owners/slumlords do? If North Broad is ever going to truly improve like we've all been told, this beast and buildings like it must either be restored or die.

August 1891, just in case you need a reference for your restoration, future rich-ass developer!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, I just can't get past this sentence: " [. . .] North Broad Street when it was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America. "

    North Broad? Wealthiest neighborhood in America? WOW. I can't wrap my head around that.