Monday, February 13, 2012

Mystery Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- February 13th

Holiday Inn Express Midtown Philadelphia

1305 Walnut Street

                    What an embarrassing piece of shit. This building is so pitiful and ugly, no one wants to acknowledge it. The PAB has nothing on it, Emporis doesn't know who the architect is, and Google Earth won't put it into 3D. I almost feel sorry for this ugly motherfucker. Almost.

Google Earth said "Fuck it!"
                        This is one of those structures that can't decide if its a parking garage or a building. The way that the tower section is set back just makes it look like they forgot to build the front. The real reason its so far back is because there's a pool at the top of the parking garage.

This postcard from when it was first built shows off the pool, because seriously, there's nothing else to show off.
                        From its Samson Street side, this fuckbucket looks even worse. The tower is set so far back that it just looks like any other crappy parking garage from the street. Who the fuck thought this was a bright idea? Paul J. McNamara, that's who. This guy was Holiday Inn's most badass franchisee. Former manager of the Warwick, this guy envisioned that Holiday Inn locations could expand beyond shitbird highway exits and fuckbag resort locations, and be built in the downtowns of major cities.
                      McNamara built this 161-room motherfucker in 1963-1964, and it became the first Holiday Inn located in the heart of a major city. It was built on the site of some old 1830's row-mansions that were converted to retail uses, exactly like the ones that still stand across the street.

The site of the Holiday Inn in 1925. By the end of the 1930's half of this became surface parking.
                    The architect, of course, is a mystery... for good reason. Who the fuck would wanna own up to this mess? Even for the 1960's, this is a crappy building. The attempt to beautify the parking garage by placing a grille over it was a failure. They even named the restaurant inside when it first opened The Walnut Grille. Is that supposed to be some kind of sick joke about the parking garage? THAT'S a Walnut Grille.
                     When it opened, the hotel was full service... you could get room service and reserve banquet halls for events. In 1993, Holiday Inn created the Express brand, limiting services in order to get room rates down. The hotel was already doing pretty shitty at the time, competing with far better hotels that were built for the new Convention Center, so the boss, McNamara's son William, joined the change-in. Its been running under the Express brand to this day. Pitifully enough, this is one of the longest continuously-operating hotels in the city.
                      So who's the architect? Who's gonna acknowledge this mess of a building? Why does the parking garage have to be so humongous? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!?!?!??!?!


  1. Actually it stands on the site of the first Latin Casino a real important hot spot at one time...which later relocated to Cherry Hill where the Subaru headquarters now stands....

  2. Yes, that would be from 1950 to 1960, at 1309 Walnut. It was the number one nightclub in Philadelphia and vicinity for many years. All the big stars from 1950s to the 1970s played at the Latin, such as Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Bill Bailey, Liza Minelli, Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones, Lou Rawls, the Supremes, and Lionel Hampton, among many others. It drew mostly businesspeople, swingers, gamblers and racket guys. A lot of them came to see the pretty showgirls. he Latin Casino then moved to Route 70, Cherry Hill, because of a shortage of parking and to get away from Pennsylvania’s blue laws that made it stop serving drinks at midnight on Saturdays. In Cherry Hill, it could serve drinks in Jersey until 3 a.m. The place closed June 28, 1978, the victim of television and the imminent arrival of real casinos in Atlantic City. Comic Jack Leonard once remarked from the stage of the Latin Casino in the 1950s: "Philadelphia is the city where William Penn has been standing on City Hall for 240 years waiting for Ben Franklin's kite to come back."

  3. Hah! And I work at Subaru HQ. Which is actually a pretty decent building. Top floor has some blingtastic views of Center City, with Cooper River in the foreground meandering towards the horizon. But getting back to the real subject matter here - yes, what a piece of dogdoo. That facade looks like a bunch of subway grates all welded together. If we find out who the architect is, lets go deface his grave or something.