AMERICAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDING NEWS

LETTERS FROM PHILADELPHIA




 

  December 2, 1876
Page 390





 

CORRESPONDENCE

GIFTS TO THE CITY—THE TIMES BUILDING—THE Y.M.C.A BUILDING—THE CHIMES OF ST. MARKS—OBITUARY

[390] While the possibility has been anticipated with some dread, the various State buildings at the Centennial Exhibition are to be presented to the city or the park. There is very much satisfaction felt at the presentation to the city of the houses of the Japanese and English commissions as being really picturesque and valuable ornaments to the grounds. And now the Japanese merchants have presented their bazaar also. This is [illegible] the most picturesque of the lot. These Japanese buildings are probably the most representative in style and condition of any of the minor works in the enclosure. The style of the English buildings must in great measure be regarded as a [illegible] or reproduction of old forms rather than as a representation of modern work showing us the roots of a revival of art in that country. The house of the Japanese commission strikes one as having been rather unfortunately located in a portion of the grounds where there are very few surrounding natural [illegible] of sufficient importance to serve as a setting for it; [illegible] on the other hand, the bazaar and its surroundings work rather admirably. A low [illegible] building encloses three sides of a parallelogram, having in a the centre a crude sort of [illegible] surrounded by plans and [illegible], the whole amply [illegible] by two or three large low spreading catalpa trees which harmonize so well with the building, fencing, and gardening, as gives one the impression of having like all the rest, been implanted especially to complete the general make-up. The group is a remarkable instance, demonstrating the value of surrounding objects in, so to speak, re-enforcing architectural effect.

After the massive and peculiar building erected a few years [illegible] , the Guarantee Safe Deposit Company (Noticed in a late number of this journal), the most striking departure on Chestnut Street from the old architectural lines of Philadelphia is the Times Building at the corner of Eighth Street. It is of brick with bands of black and [illegible] Ohio sandstone. A corner tower with clock stage and pyramidal roof, somewhat suggestive of the Times building in New York, appears more to grow out of the building than to separate its self from [illegible] any individuality in the lower stages. As a whole the building has a bright and cheerful effect of color, but is very lacking in solidity of appearance, for, like to many of the buildings on the principal thoroughfares of all the cities of this country, too much of the wall surface of the first story is devoted to [illegible] windows; and here—there being besides the offices two [illegible] on the Chestnut Street front, and two more on the Eight Street front—we have such a large expanse of plate glass that ast a distance the superstructure reminds one not a little of the miraculous condition of Mahomet’s ceiling.

It is now anticipated, that instead of opening certain streets directly through the walled enclosure containing Girard College of reopening the Girard Avenue bridge. The amount of ground encroached upon, however, by this change will in no way interfere with the college buildings, and will hardly be missed in the size of the enclosure.

That bells, and more especially chimes, are not essential adjunets of a church and are, in fact, nuances, a number of citizens in the aristocratic neighborhood of St. Marks Church backed by several fashionable physicians, have been taking great pains to demonstrate. Few of the churches in the western portion of the city have bells; and the only three in the city which have chimes are left to play them generally to the edification of the neighborhood occupied by warehouses and shops, which, when the chimes are sounded, are mostly closed. The church in question is a gothic structure of New Jersey brownstone, of very good style and detail, rather imitated than original, designed by Notman, and built some twenty-five years since. The disturbance of the nervous neighborhood by a set of bells only procured within a few months passed, especially by the call to an early service on Sunday morning, seems to be the principal cause of its protest; and the subject, novel and funny has maybe some of its phases, bids fair to the pretty thoroughly discussed; and it is not unlikely that it may finally get into the courts.

Although it is not of a special architectural importance, it may not be an interesting to mention a rather remarkable book sale which is announced to make place in this city this week. The collection comprised the whole of Washington’s library, most of the volumes bearing his autograph and book-plate. Some early maps of Virginia and the Carolinas published in London in 1775, and another of the “most inhabited part” of New England published in the same year, as also Jeffrey’s “General Topography of North America and the West Indies”, London, 1768, will no doubt be of sufficient historical interest, besides their peculiar personal associations, to command for them very high prides.

The “reception given by citizens of Philadelphia to the United States Centennial Commission, the Centennial Board of Finance, and others connected to the Exhibition,” at the Academy of Fine Arts, was one of the most brilliant outpourings of appreciative feeling, and acknowledgement of what gratitude was due and felt towards the gentlemen who composed those bodies, that could have been desired. The adaptability of the building for a purpose of this character and the excellent manner in which it lights up challenge one to deal gently with the sense of unrest which is found in the exterior.

The announcement of the death of Mr. William Struthers, which occurred November 20, will be received with regret quite as largely throughout the country as in this city. Mr. Struthers succeeded his father, Mr. John Struthers, as one of the principle marble workers of Philadelphia, and, like him, was widely esteemed and respected. The most important work he had on hand of late was the contract for supplying the cut marble, including all the decorative detail, for the new Public Buildings.