Unlisted Philadelphia: John Decker & Son

December 28, 2016 | by Ben Leech

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the fifth issue of Extant, a publication of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

Unlisted Philadelphia highlights interesting and significant Philadelphia buildings not yet listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. To learn more about the local designation process and how you can participate in nominating a building to the Philadelphia Register, visit the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s website for more information.


BUILDING: John Decker & Son

LOCATION: 2704-06 West Girard Avenue


YEAR: 1891

Decorative cornice manufacturing was a lucrative trade in the row house neighborhoods that rose across Philadelphia in the late 19th century. Established in Brewerytown in the early 1870s, the John Decker & Son Architectural Sheet Metal Works erected this monumental cornice-cum-billboard across the two Girard Avenue row houses fronting their factory in 1891. Adorned with stock ornament and a checklist of the company’s products—TIN ROOFING, COPPER CORNICES, METAL SKY-LIGHTS—the façade survives in remarkable condition today.

The Decker Building may well be the most striking architectural landmark along Brewerytown’s rejuvenating commercial corridor. Its importance was recognized when the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011 as part of the Girard Avenue West Historic District. However, it is not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.


About the Author

Ben Leech Ben Leech is a preservationist, architectural historian and illustrator based in Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Instagram @bentleech and support his capitalist alter-ego at Archivolt Press

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