Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- August 3rd

Philadelphia Record Building

917 Chestnut Street

Willis G. Hale ain't nuthin' to fuck with.
                  I don't know if there are enough words in the English language to describe this motherfucker. Just take a good long look at this thing. It looks like the Castle of the Sasquatch King. Check out the rounded corner that addresses the post office next door that is set back from the street. Only Willis G. Hale would make a corner in the middle of a block. Are those triple columns around the doorway? The tower at the top was iron, 137 feet off the ground. It was so intricate that you would need to be climbing the side of it to see all the details.
                  William James Swain was the spoiled brat son of William Mosely Swain, one of the founders of the Public Ledger, one of the many newspapers in Philadelphia. After being educated by private tutors and travelling the world, Swain returned to Philadelphia and worked for his dad's paper. After a few years, he said, "Fuck this shit and fuck my pop!" and started his own paper in 1870 called the Public Record.
                  It was more or less a cheap imitation of the Public Ledger and didn't sell that well... until 1877. In that year, self-made millionaire William M. Singerly bought the paper and decked it the fuck out. He was in touch with the people and knew what they expected from a paper. He streamlined the articles into an easy-to-read basic format that fit on less pages. Singerly sold the daily for one cent and filled it with anti-Republican and anti-city government sentiment. The paper was renamed the Philadelphia Record.
                  Within 3 years, the paper was so successful that it had higher circulation and home delivery than all other Philadelphia papers combined. It was so victorious that the other papers reported on how fucking insane it was that this dinky little paper took over the whole goddamn city. By 1881, Singerly decided that the Record needed a building to match it's kickassedness. Who could possibly design a building of such grandeur? Willis G. Motherfucking Hale.
                  I mean really, he went balls to the walls with this shit. This building looks like Hale fucked a granite mountain and gave birth to this motherfucker 9 months later. It opened in 1882 and immediately became a landmark due to how fucking crazy-looking it is. One paper called it "one of the finest buildings in Philadelphia".  Architecture critics fucking HATED IT. One architecture book refers to it in a chapter called Architectural Abberations and says "...but only in Philadelphia that [Hale] would attempt to body it forth in actual stone." and describes the iron tower as "very terrible".
                   Fuck those critics; they're dead. This Granite/Human Hybrid is the real shit. See that lamp sticking out from the front? That was 1882 Philadelphia's most powerful lamp. People called it the "rival of the moon". Hale really knocked this one out of the park.
                  The paper's success continued well into the 20th Century. They grew the fuck out of their building and moved into the old Packard Motor Car factory at Broad and Wood. The kick-ass Record Building was unceremoniously demolished to make way for a New Deal redevelopment plan that still stands on the 900 block of Chestnut to this day. The Record Building only stood for 50 years. What a drag.
The Record Building awaits its execution, flanked by two other kick-ass lost buildings in 1932.

1 comment:

  1. Do you happen to know the exact date that the Record moved to the Broad & Wood location?