Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Deaconess House and Training School, Philadelphia, PA

The Deaconess House and Training School, Philadelphia, PA. 1850s
Shifting to Philadelphia, this is one of my favorite Italianate buildings in the city at 1122-1124 Spruce Street. It was built in the 1850s as the Deaconess House and Training School for Christian Workers of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches (quite the mouthful; I've had difficulty establishing an exact date) and is now known as the College Manor apartments. According to a real estate website, it was restored after a fire in the 1960s. Although a row house, the building follows the symmetrical villa plan; the entrance is placed in the center rather than the side, perhaps indicating its institutional qualities with the added grandeur of a centralized entrance in a row house setting. The façade is symmetrical and is faced with stone, perhaps the yellowish limestone that is found in many Philadelphia buildings. The windows display variation; the central section's windows are tripartite and arched, with the central panel being wider and taller than the sides, while the flanking windows are double windows encased in one shallow arch. All the windows, except for the small arched windows in the pediment are covered with thick hood moldings with decorative foliated bosses.

The stone has been laid in recessed sections, forming blind arches that divide the façade neatly. The cornice has thickly deployed brackets and a broad, plain entablature board. I personally like the central rounded pediment that defines the façade. It's difficult to see, but the roof of this building is slightly hipped and accommodates two large dormers. The dark brown color of the trim seems to be a period appropriate color scheme. On a street of row houses, the building has grand pretensions by employing a symmetrical plan, although the scale and detailing make it appear more like a large mansion rather than a school, maintaining the residential character of the street. It certainly makes an impression as a large stone Italianate surrounded by lower Federal and Greek revival brick row houses.

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