For twelve decades, excepting a hiatus around the middle of this century,
the area has been a home to the Library Company. After leaving its Furness-designed
quarters, demolished in 1940, to consolidate operations in its Ridgway Building
at Broad and Christian streets (now the High School for the Creative and
Performing Arts), the Library Company returned to the area in 1965 with
its present building on the site of three Victorian townhouses. Substantial
renovations were carried out by the Vitetta Group in the 1990s, creating
the present gallery and expanding the facilities for readers.
Several months ago, the Library Company began planning for the renovation
of the building to its west, a townhouse at 1320 Locust Street that was
built in 1883-84 for one of the enclave-dwelling elite. Modest in a streetscape
of neighbors of equal size, it was nonetheless highly distinctive in character,
and almost certainly designed by Furness & Evans. 1320 Locust was built
for J. Gardner Cassatt, brother of painter Mary Cassatt and of Alexander
J. Cassatt, a longtime executive of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and its president
from 1899 to 1906. Although J. Gardner Cassatt did not stay long, the house
experienced relatively few owners and only rather modest changes over the
The Library Company is now working with Becker Winston Architects to plan
the reuse of the Cassatt house as a residential research center devoted
to the study of early American history. The house is remarkably intact,
and the architects are designing renovations that will preserve some of
its principal spaces while adapting it to its new use.
Section F: [exhibition]
Last Revision. 03/10/00 eb.