Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Furness: Centennial Bank

Every morning, on my walk from West Philly to 30th Street Station, I pass a brilliant building designed by Frank Furness in 1876. The Centennial Bank (re-dedicated as Drexel University's Paul Beck Center in 2000) contains one of my favorite architectural details (my sketch left)

This vertical limestone ornament marks the division of bays in the western 1-story bay that extends south from the corner. In typical Furnessian manner, it evokes sentiments of mechanical power and the medieval past (corbel, crockets, etc.), but it also reworks the motif of the entrance way. This console has additional significance in that it created a prototype used throughout Philadelphia's row houses in the 1880s and 1890s.

The Centennial Bank was chartered to finance the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition (see earlier posting on Jerome Hodos' essay of the exhibition here). The building sits diagonally on Market Street today and it would have served as an axial termination to a street that lead to the Exhibition.

The photo below was taken in 1961, for Historic American Buildings Survey; Library of Congress HABS PA,51-PHILA,525-1.

1 comment:

Family Lawyers Brisbane said...

Nice working. Always like old buildings never think about banks though. Interesting article.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States