What the Hale is in There?

March 7, 2012 | by Michael Burlando

From opulent bank building, to theater, to gay bath house, we’ve got the story of the Hale building HERE.


About the Author

Michael Burlando Michael Burlando is a designer, builder, photographer, and lover of all things Philadelphia. While earning his Master of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael restored an 1870's Victorian rowhouse. After graduation he spent two years at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings, and Merill before returning to Philadelphia with his wife in 2010. He now manages construction projects for Columbus Construction, lives in Graduate Hospital, runs the revived Philly Skinny, and blogs at


  1. thesestreets says:

    You know, I really love what you guys do here, but an exterior shot or two with some of these stories would really go a long way.

    1. Peter Woodall says:

      Will do–thanks for the feedback

    2. For those who are looking for more photos of the Hale Building (both inside and out) I’ve created an expanded photo essay that you can find here.

      1. emily steinberg says:

        Hi Michael,

        This is incredible! What a sad waste of a building! Any chance of it finding a new owner?

  2. Rob Lybeck says:

    Terrific images from Mr. Burlando. Amazed (or maybe I shouldn’t be) at the extent of decay here. Sad to see for such a ‘fantastic’ building.

    1. Lisa Shaffmaster says:

      It would be nice to see an old photo of the building in its original form, a bank.

      1. Peter Woodall says:

        Hi Lisa–you can see a drawing of the building when it was a bank in Maria Gorshin’s story about its history here:

      2. I would love to see an interior photo of the bank’s original, two-story lobby. In all of my research, I have yet to come across one. That double height space has since been cut up with a mezzanine and thoroughly stripped of any original detail.

        1. joe says:

          Michael, how did you get permission to take photos of the inside?

  3. Colleen says:

    They have one if you click on the READ MORE link under “The Power of Place.”

  4. Chris Bartlett says:

    For those not already in the know, the “Locker Room Room Deodorizer” in photo number six is a bottle of poppers. This artifact derives from the building’s gay bathhouse days, during which inhaling from this little bottle would have enhanced sexual pleasure. To see the poppers bottle with its coating of archaeological rubble made me chuckle.

  5. Walter says:

    Visiting Philadelphia, I was wandering and enjoying the astonishing collection of architecture in center city, looked up and was even further astounded by what I now know to be the Hale Building. The web is a wonderful resource, and my curiosity is at least partially satisfied by the sad story in these photographs and linked articles. One can understand how such a building would have been subject to the whims of fashion, and the disdain of critics in the grip of classicism, modernism, brutalism, or whatever. But clearly many have moved beyond that and value it for the wild wonder it is. I hope someone can save it. It is remarkable how many great original details remain, even in the ruined interiors. I would have loved to see what lies behind those extraordinary turret windows on the upper facade, but perhaps they are inaccessible or unsafe. Thanks so much.

  6. gription says:

    I have some more photos I could add to this set if anyone likes.

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