Unlisted Philadelphia: Bache-Martin School

February 1, 2024 | by Alan Jaffe and Bryan Mckinney

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Winter 2023 issue of Extant, a publication of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

Bache-Martin School

Location: 800 and 801 N. 22nd Street

Architects: Lloyd Titus and Irwin T. Catharine

Built: 1905-06 and 1936-37

The Bache-Martin School in Fairmount has a dual personality with two distinct buildings erected 30 years apart. On the east side of 22nd Street, the former Alexander Dallas Bache Public School, named for a scientist descended from Benjamin Franklin, was built in 1905 and is still an active middle school. Architect Lloyd Titus designed a three-story, somber stone edifice, perhaps in deference to the neighboring Eastern State Penitentiary, but he softened the facade with Romanesque arches over its central windows and student entrance.

On the west side of 22nd Street, the former Willis and Elizabeth Martin Orthopedic School was the city’s first school for physically disabled students, It was constructed in 1936–funded through the Works Progress Administration–and now serves K-4 children. School building czar Irwin T. Catharine designed the one-story, brick and limestone Georgian Revival complex with two inner courtyards and a portico of Corinthian columns, pediment, and bell tower reminiscent of Independence Hall.

The two buildings, which were added to the National Register in 1986, now form a dynamic campus with historical and architectural character and are worthy of listing on the Philadelphia Register.


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