Monday, August 29, 2011

Mystery Building of the Week-- August 29th


104-106 South 8th Street

Look at this sexy old bitch-bastard.
                 Sometimes there's an awesome-looking building that preserves itself by going completely unnoticed for decades. This is one of 'em... a beautiful old building from an earlier age that has managed not to get torn down or fall over in the last 125 years by some leap of fate. Ok, so it lost one of its little horns at the top. Nonetheless, this thing is a survivor. This Fortress of Fist Surfing was from a time when even the crappiest business or organization was expected to build an impenetrable stone and brick fortress with kickass shit all over the top.
                The only problem is this... I can't figure out where the hell this building came from. How did this awesome-looking Castle of Cock Cannons go so unnoticed for so long? What was the fuck it is and what the fuck was it? Sure, I can find the names of its current owners and property tax info, but what good is that? I can't find any definitive shit about the history of this building, but I'll tell you what kind of circumspect shit I've found.  
               First of all it says "JM" at the top with sunrays bursting all over the place. Does that mean John MacArthur, Jr, designer of City fucking Hall? The crown of this beast does bare a slight resemblance to the one on a long lost Jewish temple that MacArthur designed. If this is a MacArthur, it's different than most of the shit that he's done, except that many of his designs seem to be in different styles.

It looks like someone cemented over the name of this building!
                      The patterns and colors are almost Furnessian. Furness had a shitload of students and competitors that copied off of his shit so it's hard to say if it's by one of his proteges, one of his collaborators, one of his enemies, or him! Then there's that shit at the bottom. Was that original to the structure or was it an alteration? Here's a picture of it from 1963:

              There seems to have been some kind of rounded piece that went between the two horns. As far as acual data about this beast, the most recent info I have is over 100 years old. Bornot Inc., a dye company, got inspected at this address in 1902, but they sure as fuck didn't build the building. They had factories and warehouses all over the country and invented a new kind of dyeing-related machine in the !?!?!?!?!?!?!??? building.
              American District Telegraph Company ran a branch office out of this building in 1888, but they couldn't have built the structure. They had their main Philadelphia office in the Betz Building at the time. It doesn't make sense to have their HQ there and build an expensive-ass stone and brick supercastle six blocks away just for a shitty branch office.
              They used it as a telegraph receiving center connected to hundreds of stores and homes that could contact them in the event of an emergency or break-in. The company in another form does the same type of shit now, except they just call themselves ADT.
Crappy picture of it from 1895. Was ADT in there at this point? There's that round piece between the horns!
                    So who the fuck built this thing and why? I don't know for sure. One account I found had this labeled has the publishing address of a newspaper called the Keystone Good Templar. That newspaper was produced by the International Order of Good Templars' Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Could this building be the Grand Lodge? Is it possible? It would explain why its so ornate and shit. If so, when did they build it and who was the architect? What a pisser!

The IOGT is still around. I wonder if they have records about this shit?
                  At this point, I have no idea who could have conceived and built this thing, but I'm pretty happy that they did. I really thought of scrapping this whole article and writing about some other old building that's easier to find shit out about.. but this thing kept bothering me. This fucknugget is cool... its gone so unnoticed over the years that it deserves to be brought back into the light. The only glimmer of hope I have for this motherfucker is that it does indeed have a file at the Philadelphia Historical Commission. There's bound to be some info in there.
           If you know the truth about this building or think I'm an asshole for not knowing, contact me at so we can put this shit to rest.

Pretend this is the side of a milk carton.


                      Hello, this is John McLaughlin and now your reading this in my voice! And the answah is...its the Annex to an old newspaypah building, the Times Building (a futcha Lost Building of the Week) and was built in 1878. The ahh-chitect was the firm of Hazlehurst and Huckel. The contractah that built it was Allen B. Rorke. BYE BYE!!

                     *Special thanks goes out to Philaphile Walter Rice for pushing me into the right direction! 

1 comment:

  1. All hail Walter Rice, who knows the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings project inside out, for his mad PAB skillz.