One of the remaining structures that once helped to make up “Automobile Row” at the turn of the century will likely be demolished within the next few months.
The 100-year-old, four-story building, which sits at the corner of North Broad and Carlton streets, was bought by the Pennsylvania Ballet 10 years ago. They initially planned to restore the structure, but earlier this year they changed their minds and obtained a demolition permit, which allows them to take down the building any time after April 29, according to Paul Steinke, Executive Director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. The ballet has not discussed what will go in the building’s place, according to Philly.com.
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Ballet were not immediately available for comment Friday morning, but ballet executive director Shelly Power told Philly.com that the project would allow them to consolidate the various parts of their organization. It’s unclear when the demolition will start.
For preservationists, the decision is a difficult pill to swallow. The building is registered with the Callowhill Industrial Historic District but not with the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, meaning it qualifies for tax credits but is not protected from demolition, according to Steinke.
It was built in 1911 by US Tire, at a time when that section of North Broad Street was becoming known as “Automobile Row.” Showrooms and stores selling auto parts decorated the area, stretching up as far as Girard, according to Hidden City Philadelphia. The showrooms are long gone, but some of the structures still remain.
In addition to its history, the building has an interesting facade. It’s clad in glazed terra cotta—a popular material in the early 1900’s because it was both inexpensive, and had the ability to make a structure look ornamental and high-end, Steinke said. It has decorated column capitals and large windows facing the street.
“We’re sorry to see it go,” Steinke said Friday. “It’s another loss to the integrity of the north broad automobile row heritage.”