Look Up! A Venetian palazzo for an elite fraternity

 

Wilson Eyre designed the outstanding building that once served as a social hall for an exclusive men’s club.

 

“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.

 

The first block of South 22nd Street was never a fraternity row, but late 19th-century Greek life is well represented in the three-story, yellow brick residence across the street from the distinguished College of Physicians.

 

The Venetian Revival building at 32 S. 22nd was commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania’s Delta Psi chapter of St. Anthony Hall, a collegiate literary society.

 

They hired the already well-known Philadelphia architect Wilson Eyre, who was related to a Delta Psi alumnus, to design the palazzo with living quarters on the upper floors and a social space, St. Anthony Hall, on the first floor for current and former brethren. The side entrance to the clubhouse opened in 1888 and welcomed members of the city’s elite families, including the Biddles, Harrisons, Pembertons and Clarks.

 

The building is a glowing, motled ochre brick, with arched windows and a third-floor enclosed balcony. Eyre decorated the men’s clubhouse with carvings of infants, the date of the building in Roman numerals on the front stone bay, and the St. Anthony Hall badge emblazoned on the second level.

 

The club occupied the building until 1908. The structure is listed in the Rittenhouse-Fitler Residential Historic District designateded in 1995. Today, the building commemorates its architect as the Wilson Eyre Condominiums, with units on all three floors.

 

Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

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