Look Up! Greek Revival marries Victorian Gothic at Broad and Pine

“Look Up!” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. The photo essays focus on different Philadelphia areas and their distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

Three of the city and nation’s greatest architects contributed to the building now known as the Dorrance Hamilton Hall of the University of the Arts.

The first and most prominent section went up in the 1820s, when the intersection of Broad and Pine Streets was a rural haven far removed from the hubbub of the city center at 5th and Chestnut.

John Haviland, who had built the Eastern State Penitentiary, a model for prison design around the 19th-century world, was commissioned to build the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. In 1824, he unveiled a Greek Revival temple in granite with a Doric columned portico and pediment. City residents took carriage rides to the wooded outskirts to see the new landmark.

The building was expanded in 1838 by William Strickland, the Greek Revival master who had built the Second Bank of the United States, Merchants’ Exchange, U.S. Naval Home, and reconstructed Independence Hall steeple. For the institution, Strickland added the inset arches on the sides of the main building and the wings that extend north and south along Broad Street.

The building was doubled in size in 1875 by Frank Furness, who designed the brick extensions that stretch to 15th Street in his distinctive style of Victorian Gothic. He also built the low carriage house and the long brick walls that enclose the rear wings. A year later, Furness built the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The University of the Arts – formerly the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art and then the Philadelphia College of Art — has occupied the building since 1893. The school boasts that it is the oldest extant building on Broad.

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Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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