Photographs & History

Photographs and History

Relic Exhibition: Lansdowne Theater

Auditorium Detail, Northeast Corner, Lansdowne Theater. May 2009

Auditorium Detail, Northeast Corner, Lansdowne Theater. May 2009

In conjunction with the current exhibition of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the show. The fifth and final building in the Relic exhibition is the beautiful Lansdowne Theater. This Theater opened it’s doors on June 1st, 1927 just two years before the Great Depression and continued to operate for over 60 years. Situated in the heart of the downtown business area of this Philadelphia commuter suburb the theater survives as one of the most prominent structures on North Lansdowne Avenue. Financed by the Stanley Warner Company and Herbert Effinger who commissioned renowned theater architect W. H. Lee to design a modern 1300 seat theater, the $250,000 project resulted in a grand, lavish theater featuring remarkable interiors clad with chandeliers and intricate tile plasterwork throughout. The theater featured an organ, built by the W.W. Kimball Company of Chicago to provide both music and sound effects prior to the introduction of sound movies. Situated in the front of the auditorium in the orchestra pit the “band” organ also controlled a variety of instruments and sound effects for silent films in the false balconies on both sides of the stage. According to the Lansdowne Theater Corporation the organ originally fell silent by 1937 and was later restored by local volunteers which provided a unique venue for professional organists to perform in the historic theater, a tradition that continued until the removal of the organ in the late 1970s

Into the early 1980’s ownership changed hands and Lansdowne Theater Associates, Inc cosmetically restored the building after purchase in 1986. Shortly after in July of 1987 an electrical fire broke out during a movie, fortunately nobody was hurt but the electrical systems that served the theater suffered major damage. While repairs were started the group was never successful in getting the building back to operating condition and the property eventually defaulted to bank ownership. Today the building’s retail spaces have been renovated and provide income revenue for the site while the non-profit Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation works tirelessly to secure funding and make efforts to stabilize and restore the theater back to it’s original operating condition.

For more information on the Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation please visit their website.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio is currently on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.

Relic Exhibition: Board of Education Building

East Wing Board Room, First Floor, Philadelphia Board of Education Building. June, 2007

East Wing Board Room, First Floor, Philadelphia Board of Education Building. June, 2007

In conjunction with the current exhibition of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the show. The fourth building in the Relic exhibition is The Philadelphia Board of Education Building, completed in 1932 and one of several civic buildings constructed during the development of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Designed by school board architect and later superintendent of building, Irwin T. Catherine the ten-story art deco building was home to the Board of Education until its sale in 2007. The building has survived largely intact with the elegant art deco features and was recently renovated to create 130 luxury apartments. During the renovation most of the public corridors, first floor offices, conference room and auditorium were carefully restored retaining the unique architectural styles of each space. During the renovation the Philadelphia AIA Landmark Building program awarded the Board of Education Building as a notable example of the art deco era. The nomination sited the "...public and ceremonial areas are fine examples of Art Deco and eclectic styles. The main corridors on each floor, as well as the auditorium, feature lighting, grilles, and signage executed in the Art Deco style. The Board Room foyer is Neo-Greek in the Ionic style; the Board Room, the Secretary’s office, and the Superintendent’s office are Neo-Colonial; the President’s office is done in the Georgian style, and the 10th floor cafeteria is described as being of the Spanish provincial style." Since the renovation, the Barnes Foundation utilizes the historic Board Room and offices and the beautiful auditorium space is home to the Varenhorst architecture firm who actually planned the adaptive reuse of the building for developer PMC Property Group.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio is currently on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.

Relic Exhibition: Memorial Hall

Grand Hall and Entry. Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park. January, 2007

Grand Hall and Entry. Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park. January, 2007

In conjunction with the current exhibition of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the show. The third building in the Relic exhibition is Memorial Hall located in the historic Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia. Designed by Herman J. Schwarzmann chief engineer and architect of the Fairmount Park Commission, Memorial Hall was built as an art gallery for the 1876 Centennial Exposition. The building stands as an early example of the monumental Beaux-Arts style of architecture in the US, with an exterior of granite and an interior finished with marble and ornamental plaster. Completed at total cost of $1.5 million dollars, architectural details include statuary and a glass and iron dome that peaks at 150’ above the grand rotunda creating a soft glow from the natural light above. After the exposition the building re-opened as the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art and also served as the first Philadelphia Museum of Art until 1929. One of few surviving structures from the 1876 Exposition, Memorial Hall was taken over by the Fairmount Park Commission in 1958, housing offices and administration. The space also had a public pool, gymnasium and police station into the 1980’s. The massive historic building fell into disrepair until 2005 when the Please Touch Museum began an $85- million renovation to create a new home for the museum. Finished in 2008, the building was brought back to its original splendor with a full interior and exterior restoration. In addition the museum created some amazing exhibitions kids specific to the history of the site while incorporating features of the original Center City museum location.

For more information on Memorial Hall and the Please Touch Museum please visit their website

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio will be on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.

Relic Exhibition: Divine Lorraine Hotel

Banquet Hall, 10th Floor. Divine Lorraine Hotel. January, 2007.

Banquet Hall, 10th Floor. Divine Lorraine Hotel. January, 2007.

In conjunction with the upcoming show of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the exhibition. The second of this series is the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Built by the renowned architect Willis G. Hale between 1892 and 1894, the Divine Lorraine was home to many wealthy Philadelphia residents in this up and coming section on North Broad Street. The building boasted modern amenities such as electricity, provided a house staff to eliminate the need for personal servants and utilized a central kitchen to provide food service through out the facility. The Lorraine was a feat of modern design, one of the first hi-rise complexes in Philadelphia at 10 stories high. Advancements in structural materials, and the invention of the elevator made this building a first of its kind in Philadelphia. Hale would build several other Victorian styled buildings in the Philadelphia area which unfortunately after the great depression were considered dated compared to the modern sky scrapers and ultimately many were demolished. In 1948 the Lorraine would make history again when it was sold to Father Divine also known by the name of George Baker or Rev. Major Jealous Divine, leader of the Universal Peace Mission Movement. Baker’s hotel would become the first fully racially integrated hotel in the United States and was open to men and women of all faith and races as long as they lived by the rules of the movement which continued until its closure in 1999. Since then the building has changed hands several times and was gutted for salvage but never rehabbed by developer Lorraine Hotel LP. The building took the spotlight again in the past few weeks when renowned North Broad St. focused developer Eric Blumenfeld purchased the building at auction. He has announced plans to restore the building, creating 126 apartments with restaurants on the first floor, which was kept intact during the 2006-7 interior demolition.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio will be on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition opens Friday, October 26, 2012 with a reception from 6:30 – 8:30 and the show runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.

Relic Exhibition: Philadelphia Civic Auditorium

Public Entry Foyer, Philadelphia Civic Center Auditorium, April 2005.

Public Entry Foyer, Philadelphia Civic Center Auditorium, April 2005.

In conjunction with the upcoming show of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the exhibition. The first of five buildings featured in this show is the Philadelphia Civic Auditorium. Completed in 1931 the Art Deco Auditorium graced Civic Center Boulevard in West Philadelphia as part of a complex of buildings that began with the National Export Exhibition in 1899. There were two important buildings on the site. The Commercial Museum, built in 1899, was one of the original exposition buildings and The Municipal Auditorium (Convention Hall), built in 1931, by Philip H. Johnson. The Auditorium would be host to four National Political Conventions and notable people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul the II. The auditorium was also utilized for countless musical performances including the Beetles, Jackson Five, Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead while also serving as the original home of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Warriors. In 1967 the opening of the Spectrum sports arena in South Philadelphia made the Auditorium virtually obsolete, and the beautiful building was relegated to a secondary status occasionally utilized for performances or University of Penn and Drexel graduation services. By the mid 1990’s the City could not entice a regular tenant and the facility began fall in neglect. The massive building was expensive to maintain and would see sporadic use as a sound stage for both TV and movie productions. Finally in 2005 the Civic Auditorium would meet its demise to clear way for construction of University of Pennsylvania Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio will be on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery, Gloucester County College, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell, New Jersey 08080. The exhibition opens Friday, October 26, 2012 with a reception from 6:30 – 8:30 and the show runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.