Royal Ceiling

September 7, 2011 |  by  |  Found  |  , ,

Anthropologie, 18th and Walnut. Photo: Peter Woodall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthropologie’s flagship store at 18th and Walnut Streets contains a room featuring one of the city’s most opulent as well as unusual ceilings. The entire ceiling features a cluster of portraits of Italian princes encircled within three-dimensional gold frames. The 1898 mansion was originally Alexander Van Rensselaer’s home and later Penn Athletic Club’s clubhouse.  In 1982, Anthropologie’s predecessor, Urban Outfitters, moved into the three-story mansion. By that time, much of the interior had already been deconstructed.


View Larger Map

About the author

Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of PennDesign, is a native Philadelphian who is passionate about the changing city she inhabits. Before beginning her graduate studies in historic preservation with a focus on policy, Rachel obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011). She currently works as a program associate at Partners for Sacred Places.



2 Comments


  1. Is the ceiling an installation that was put up by Anthropologie?

    • Rachel Hildebrandt

      The ceiling is original to the mansion. According to a 1982 Philadelphia Inquirer article… “The spacious four-story building was built in 1897 by Alexander Van Rensselaer , for the widowed Sarah Drexel Fell and her four small children. The next year, he married her. In 1942, the building was bought by the Penn Athletic Club, which sold it in 1963 to the Presbyterian Ministers Fund, an insurance company for clergymen, but the club continued to lease the building until 1972. In 1975, after renovations costing more than $1.1 million and taking more than a year were completed, Design Research of Cambridge, Mass., became the first retail occupant. It went out of business in 1979. A wicker store, the Eclectic Co., did business there until August 1980, and the mansion has been unused since”… When the mansion was “renovated,” much of the interior was removed, but the awesome medallion-covered ceiling was spared.

Recent Posts
Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

September 17, 2014  |  Soapbox

New construction in Philadelphia is on fire right now. Perfect timing to feature another episode of "Hot or Not," courtesy of our indespensible drive-by architecture critic Jason Lempieri > more

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

September 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Improvements for Dilworth Park’s visual flow, more details on the Bridesburg land swap with Dietz and Watson, Philly Bike Share locations, and a “creative hub” in Brewerytown > more

Dilworth Park, On Balance

Dilworth Park, On Balance

September 16, 2014  |  Soapbox

The new Dilworth Park at City Hall has drawn a considerable amount of criticism since opening last week. Despite a few misgivings, Michael Bixler thinks that there may be a silver lining: inclusive, public appeal > more

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

September 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A community meeting unveils early design thoughts for the corridor revitalization, previewing phase 3 of Fishtown’s Icehouse, Penn teams up with Swiss firm for innovative cancer research facility on its campus, and Dranoff musing on the market > more

An Antique Swimming Hole Under The El

An Antique Swimming Hole Under The El

September 15, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

A public bath for five decades, this brick-arched beauty now houses a brush and broom manufacturer. The Shadow dives into the history of this sunken treasure under the El > more

Redevelopment In Fishtown Threatened By NIMBYs

Redevelopment In Fishtown Threatened By NIMBYs

September 15, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Samschick’s lynchpin draws the ire of the myopic, Two Liberty Place scraps hotel plan for condos, 30 more police for the Northeast, and some selective gentrification concern in Point Breeze > more