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
A Call For Open Parking Data And The Better Planning It Allows

A Call For Open Parking Data And The Better Planning It Allows

July 25, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Why we can’t ignore the parking problem any longer, developer to talk loft conversion in South Philly, more student housing in UCity, videographer chronicles Philly’s “Makers,” and all taxis to get cameras > more

A Place Called The Plateau Is Where Everybody Goes

A Place Called The Plateau Is Where Everybody Goes

July 24, 2014  |  Last Light

With yesterday's dedication of the John K. Binswanger Grove of Park Champions, the Fairmount Park Conservancy ushered in a new era of growth at the Belmont Plateau. It's always been Brad Maule's favorite place to survey the growth of the Philly skyline > more

Plan To Revitalize Kensington North Of Lehigh Approved

Plan To Revitalize Kensington North Of Lehigh Approved

July 24, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Planning Commission likes what it sees from New Kensington CDC, Philadelphia’s building boom as complimentary across varying sectors, renovating affordable commercial properties in North Philly, and INHP and the economic multiplier effect > more

Landmarks, Reinterpreted

Landmarks, Reinterpreted

July 24, 2014  |  Buzz

To help celebrate its 200th anniversary, the Athenaeum asked artists to reinterpret architectural landmark's on the National Register of Historic Places. The exhibition of the work is on display until August 8 > more

Remembering The City’s Last Potter’s Field

Remembering The City’s Last Potter’s Field

July 23, 2014  |  Vantage

Reporter Michael Buozis finds himself in the Far Northeast hunting down the city's last potter's field, its only marker spray painted on a utility pole > more

Beury Building Coming To A Sheriff's Sale Near You

Beury Building Coming To A Sheriff’s Sale Near You

July 23, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Neglected North Broad tower up for sale next month, John K. Binswanger Grove of Park Champions dedication, Rina Cutler on the PPA, perhaps a 7th victim in Market Street building collapse, and SEPTA seeking service suggestions > more