The Kirschbaum Building

The Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide cites, on August 19, 1891, the construction of a nine-story building on the site of 726 and 728 Market Street. It references Frank Rushmore Watson as the architect and Abram Kirschbaum & Co. as the client. According to a survey form at the Pennsylvania Historical Commission at Philadelphia City Hall, which was prepared by J. Cohen, the building is of Renaissance Revival form and constructed with brick and white terra cotta. The Historical Commission survey goes on to describe the building as follows:

"A vertical stacking of classical motifs faces this rather tall narrow commercial building, a rhythm of major and minor pilasters opening this facade extensively. Large, semicircular arches attempt to halt this pilastered rhythm below an elaborate major cornice, an arcaded top story, and a secondary cornice. The lower stories have been completely altered."

Image 1, below, from the Campbell Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, shows the building with the lower stories unaltered. The Historical Commission has the second image, taken by J. Cohen, which shows the lower stories after alteration.

Image 1: The Campbell Collection image of the Kirschbaum Building (see top image)

Image 2: A 1981 image of the Kirschbaum Building

Ernest Hexamer & Son produce the first fire insurance atlas after the 1891 construction of the Kirschbaum Building. This atlas, from 1896, details not only the physical aspects of the new building but also lists the company that occupied building.

Image 3: 1896 Hexamer & Son Fire Insurance Atlas

Though this atlas came out only five years after the construction of the building, Kirschbaum & Co., who the Philadelphia Real Estate Record cited as a clothier, is not listed as the company in the building. The company listed, Clothing S. & Cutting, worked with "sewing, busheling, etc." The blue color in the space indicates that the building served as a warehouse or wholesale store. In addition to this information, the atlas notes that the building consisted of nine stories. A 1905 fire insurance atlas from Hexamer & Son lists the C.M. Allen Company as the occupant of the Kirschbaum Building. According to the atlas, the C.M. Allen Company worked with dry goods.

Image 4: 1905 Hexamer & Son Fire Insurance Atlas

When comparing this image to the previous one taken from the 1896 Hexamer Atlas, one notices that the building experienced negligible alteration. Such a trend holds for most of the twentieth century, other than the appearance of an elevator indicated in the 1915-20 Hexamer Atlas. After the 1896 atlas, however, the name of the company in the building is no longer listed. This may be due, in part, to the appearance of a new company. In same era that the elevator appeared, the Sanborn Map Company began creating the maps for Philadelphia. These atlases do not indicate changes in the Kirschbaum Building until the most recent edition, which was updated in 2004. The 2004 atlas makes note of a private school on the second floor of the building.

Image 5: 2004 Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas

Furthermore, the buildings between 712 and 732 are labeled, through use of the arrows, as the "Sovereign Bldg." When the atlas says "Professional Off's Abv. 1st" it indicates that the building had offices above the first floor. Based on the varying stories of the buildings, however, "Sovereign Bldg" does not designate a singular building. The Kirschbaum Building still stands.

Image 6: A 2005 view of the Kirschbaum Building

Image 7: A 2005 view of the Kirschbaum Building

These images, taken in October 2005, tell a different story than the 2004 Sanborn Atlas suggests. The windows have boards over them and both small businesses on the street level have moved. Also, the "For Sale" sign that now hangs on the front suggests that no businesses or schools currently occupy the building. At the time of the Historical Commission's photograph, 1981, the bottom story of the building housed a McDonald's and Key Drug Store. The survey form, however, lists the occupants as Stein & Silverman Law. This highlights the varied use of the building as a retail space on the first story and an office space on the above stories. According to current tax information, which is available at Phila.gov, Victory Investments currently owns the property. Though a McDonald's no longer occupies the lower floor, the mailing address for Victory Investments is the McDonald's Corporation. Currently worth $700,000, Victory Investments purchased the property in 1974.

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Sources

Jane Campbell Collection available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, v. 6, n. 33, p. 527, 8/19/1891.

Above citation taken from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project

Fire Insurance Atlases are available at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Tax information taken from http://brtweb.phila.gov/accountDetails.aspx?an=5356000726

Images 6-7 taken by MG; see below for contact information


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Last revised on 20 March 2006, MG Feedback