Unlisted Philadelphia: Marine Barracks

May 8, 2024 | by Alan Jaffe and Natalie Hope McDonald

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Spring 2024 issue of Extant, a publication of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

Marine Barracks

Location: 4801 South Broad Street

Architect: Henry Ives Cobb

Built: 1901

The Philadelphia Navy Yard’s older, distinguished cluster of buildings was designated as a National Register Historic District in 1999. The district includes Building 1, a storehouse/office erected in 1875 in the Italianate style, the Beaux Arts Commandant’s Office, and the Victorian officers’ homes on the riverfront designed by civil engineer/North Pole explorer Robert Peary.

None have been listed on the Philadelphia Register yet. A good place to start would be the virile Marine Barracks, designed in 1901 by Chicago-based architect Henry Ives Cobb, whose commissions included the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s main quad. The Marine Barracks shows Cobb’s flair for the Romanesque style, with its arched stone arcade along the first floor, terra cotta capitals, and carved stone eagles perched atop globes in honor of those who first used the quarters.

Like much of the reimagined Navy Yard, the building has been repurposed by technology, innovation, and investment firms, and on weekends, community groups use the former military parade grounds out front as a setting for festivals and fundraisers. The City should also appreciate and designate the resources of the historic enclave at the Navy Yard.


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