Architecture

Unlisted Philadelphia: Banca Bozzelli

March 20, 2019 | by Ben Leech

 

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Spring 2019 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: Banca Bozzelli

LOCATION: 735-37 S. 7th Street

ARCHITECT: Unknown

YEAR: 1893 (with alterations by Watson & Huckel in 1903)

During the Italian immigration boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cultural biases and language barriers often shut new immigrants out of the traditional banking houses of Philadelphia. As a result, a number of informal and unregulated “immigrant banks” popped up in neighborhoods like South Philadelphia to manage savings, advance credit, and remit funds overseas. Usually founded by immigrants themselves, these banks tended to operate discreetly out of existing taverns, grocery stores, and other local businesses. Steamship agent Lorenzo Bozzelli, though, threw discretion to the wind and constructed Banca Bozzelli, a grand, purpose-built edifice surpassing the stature and prestige of traditional banks. A decade later, rival Banca d’Italia, which eventually absorbed Banca Bozzelli, constructed an equally impressive tower down the block. Although both survive remarkably intact today, neither has been listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. 

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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

2 Comments:

  1. Bob Skiba says:

    I love strolling through Queen Village, looking at the architectural remnants of Philadelphia’s Italian immigrant history and this bank building has always been my favorite. Your drawings are delightful, Ben.

  2. Lawrence Bozzelli says:

    Thanks for the story. Too often we walk through life without contemplating the history of those who came before us. I’m wondering if you can reach out to me if you did any additional research on this building. I am trying to figure out if Lorenzo Bozzelli is a relative of mine. Thanks.
    -L. Bozzelli

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