Built in 1909 as a manufacturing building, 1238 Callowhill Street is now home to the Beaux Arts Lofts Condominium. Spanning eight floors and 64 units, Beaux Arts is home to both unit owners and renters.
“No other city in America is so conservative or has kept intact so much of the work of each succeeding periods. It is a veritable paradise wherein architects may survey styles past and gone.”(Coften Fitzgerald, Architectural Record, July 1913.) Like many other large cities in the country, Philadelphia has seen many of its landmarks crumble and disappear since those words were spoken in 1913. Most of have witnessed the latest “redevelopment” to make way for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. However, our own Beaux Arts Lofts Condominium has survived since it was built in 1909. It is listed in the Register of National Historic Places and rightly so.
1238 Callowhill Street began its life as the Goodman Brothers and Hinlein Company, a dress trimmings manufacturing business. One of the most respected architectural and engineering firms during the twentieth century, Ballinger & Perrot, later known as the Ballinger Company is responsible for the design and construction of 1238 Callowhill Street. Ballinger and Perrot was among the first in Philadelphia to experiment with reinforced concrete, paving the way for multi-story industrial buildings, which would ultimately alter the shape and appearance of industrial architecture to taller buildings, which offered large, light filled spaces. When 1238 Callowhill Street was completed in 1909, it became the tallest reinforced concrete warehouse structure of the period, and it was held up as a classic example of reinforced concrete design for multi-story buildings.
Goodman Brothers and Hinlein remained at 1238 Callowhill Street until the 1930’s when, reflecting the growth of the newspaper and printing industries in the area of Broad and Vine Streets, the building was taken over by a lithographic printing company.
But imagine for a moment that when you step out onto Callowhill Street, what you see are cobblestone streets and trolley car tracks. Instead of a parking lot and the Wolf Building, there is a shop selling cigars, a barbershop, and next to the barbershop, a restaurant. In the late 1800’s, before 1238 Callowhill Street was constructed, this was a busy working class neighborhood with small businesses that primarily supported the Reading Railroad. On 13 th Street there was a coal house and next to it a business that sold straw.
1238 Callowhill Street also has the distinction of being the first building in this old industrial zone to become a residential living space, and in 1995 to be converted into a condominium, once again setting the pace for what was to become “The Loft District.”
Technically this area is “Chinatown North” but within the real estate community it has been distinguished as its own neighborhood. Peppered with a few popular hot spots such as Underground Arts and Brick & Mortar, this area is more or less pretty calm. However, city planners have already begun the early stages of converting the old elevated trainline that runs through The Loft District into a green space/garden for the community to enjoy. So what was once a space with a stark industrial feel will begin to see much needed green space.