Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Winter 2017 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.
Philadelphia International Records
Address: 301-9 South Broad Street
Architect: Abraham Levy
The demolition of 309 South Broad Street, the former location of Philadelphia International Records (PIR), both saddens and angers me. Although the building was not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, it was a place where history happened. PIR owners Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and produced songs that were the soundtrack of our lives. Indeed, people all over the world grooved to “The Sound of Philadelphia.” At the same time, the message in Gamble and Huff’s music inspired a new generation of social justice activists.
Regency Ballroom & Philadelphia Fine Print Shop
Address: 311 South Broad Street
Architect: David Levy
A generation earlier, the building next door at 311 South Broad Street inspired activists and artists alike as home of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) sponsored Philadelphia Fine Print Workshop. There, upstairs from the Regency Ballroom and Benny the Bum’s Night Club (“Where the famous gather”) internationally acclaimed African-American artist Dox Thrash developed his influential carborundum printmaking technique.
In 2015, these two buildings were demolished to make way for a proposed hotel and residential complex. For two years, a hole in the ground has sat in the heart of Avenue of the Arts. Meanwhile, we have lost two iconic buildings that were associated with the cultural heritage of the city of Philadlephia, the commonwealth, and the nation.