PlanPhilly

Look Up! Will Price's contribution to the Chestnut Street landscape

    • The Reeds name is spelled in handmade tiles at the top of the building.
      The Reeds name is spelled in handmade tiles at the top of the building.
    • The Jacob Reed's Sons Building is a retail landmark on Chestnut Street.
      The Jacob Reed's Sons Building is a retail landmark on Chestnut Street.
    • Architect Will Price borrowed features from Italian palaces for many of his retail and residential designs.
      Architect Will Price borrowed features from Italian palaces for many of his retail and residential designs.
    • Mosaics of garment workers adorn the entry arch to the former clothing store.
      Mosaics of garment workers adorn the entry arch to the former clothing store.
    • Rams' heads adorn the column capitals.
      Rams' heads adorn the column capitals.
    • Murals of fashionably dressed young families have survived the building's many occupants.
      Murals of fashionably dressed young families have survived the building's many occupants.
    • Arts & Crafts motifs are found in the tiled details of the building.
      Arts & Crafts motifs are found in the tiled details of the building.
    • The building's still grand interior.
      The building's still grand interior.
    • The current entrance to the 1424 Chestnut.
      The current entrance to the 1424 Chestnut.
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“Look Up” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. The photo essays focus on a different Philadelphia area neighborhood and its distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

Chestnut Street is a living museum of Philadelphia’s retail past, tracing four centuries of storefront evolution.

About midway on the Center City stretch, at 1424-26 Chestnut, is the former Jacob Reed’s Sons Building, a handsome turn-of-the-20th-century structure that retains many of its original features despite multiple reincarnations.

It was built in 1904 by the firm of Price and McLanahan for the clothing store that emphasized custom service in an era when impersonal department stores were becoming popular. The building’s design reflects Reed’s preference for individualism.

Will Price, one of the region’s proponents of the Arts & Crafts movement, utilized reinforced concrete, concrete columns, and a high concrete barrel over the first floor. He borrowed from the urban palaces of northern Italy, explains John Gallery in his book, “Philadelphia Architecture,” for the third-story loggia, red tile roof and arched entrance.

Price, who created an entire community of Arts & Crafts homes in Rose Valley, Pa., adorned the building in Mercer tiles, including mosaics of garment workers in the entry arch.

Clerestory windows lit from behind were used inside to give the illusion of a freestanding building, Gallery explains. Original murals of fashionably dressed young families can still be seen over the shelves of the current occupant, a CVS Pharmacy.


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About the author

Alan Jaffe, Contributor

Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”

ajaffe@planphilly.com



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