Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- November 2nd

Aldine Hotel

1910 Chestnut Street

The one on the left. Image from the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project.
                This thing was cool. The one on the right still stands, but the one on the left is gone. Just check that shit out. It would be great if the building was still complete. I guess this article counts as an Old-Ass Building of the week as well, since the addition to the original building still stands.
                Dr. James Rush, crazy-ass creator of the Ridgeway Library building at Broad and Christian, Treasurer of the U.S. Mint, and medical doctor, designed his own gigantic damn house in 1847. So on top of all that other shit he did, he's also an architect. It was so gigantic that it took three years to build, 1848-1851. Once complete, it was capable of holding 800 guests for the huge balls-out keggers the Rush/Ridgeway rich-ass family would have there. After Rush died (in the house) in 1869, Philadelphians wondered what the fuck would be done with it.
                In 1875, the massive house/monster was put up for sale. Those trustafarian Lippencotts purchased it for $110,000 and opened it as the Aldine Hotel in 1877. They eventually got the design firm of Yarnell and Cooper to alter and expanded the building in 1887. They ripped off the facade, applied a new one, and added floors to the building.
                The hotel was one of the most luxurious in the city, and partially served as an extended-stay location as well. In 1893, a fire consumed part of the structure. The weight-bearing walls of the place became damaged, and Mega-architect of Doom Addison Hutton was brought in to renovate the whole building and also design a huge (still standing) addition in 1895. When the hotel re-opened, it was the most badass motherfucker in town.
When the addition was new. Even the side of it is cool. 
                      In 1909, the hotel became the object of what we've been calling a Flash Mob here in Philadelphia. Ty Cobb was staying at the hotel at the same time that Connie Mack was campaigning to have him banned from baseball. Thousands of people swarmed the 1900 block of Chestnut Street to kick his ass. A 12-man police escort was needed to get him out of there.
                    Less than 20 years later, the original part of the hotel was gone. No one seems to know the actual demolition date. I know it lasted until at least 1923, since there's a picture of it from that year:

You can see it there way in the background.

                        I also found one account from 1927 describing the building as "recently demolished". Once deleted, the original Aldine was replaced by the Boyd Theatre and a bunch of crappy one-storey storefronts. Nowadays, that stretch of Chestnut is improving but still isn't as nice as it was in the 1890's. The question remains... what happened to the Aldine? Fire? Sold and demolished? What the fuck? How did the addition survive but not the original building? I guess this article counts as a Mystery Building of the Week as well!


  1. This looks like one of the corners of City Hall. It's a shame to lose this one. At least we have City Hall still. What a magnificent building it is.

  2. Aldine was demolished to make way for the Boyd Theater, which is still there, but sitting vacant today (a year after this post.)