Building Spotlight: Hawthorne Hall

Photo Credit: Jas Mundie

Hawthorne Hall is a large building on a main thoroughfare– at 3849 Hamilton Street where it intersects with Lancaster Ave, which is recorded as the first road opened in West Philadelphia.

Hawthorne Hall was built in 1895 on the site of a former lumber yard and was once used as a commercial row with a residential area above it. The brick building is striking, noticeable for its bay windows and its detailed statuary friezes. It is built of Pompeiian brick, and is almost Romanesque with its wide arches.

Photo Credit: Max Buten

Hawthorne Hall has suffered continued loss of its ornamental metalwork. The bay windows have been ripped off in places where they are aging, instead of being repaired. In places, it is possible to see where concrete has been smoothed over the decorative metalwork instead of restoring it.

The Penn graduate school of Historical Preservation mentioned Hawthorne Hall in their field work study about Powelton Village, noting that “the historic Hawthorne Hall located nearly opposite the Monarch on Lancaster is not fully occupied and in need of extensive maintenance, restoration, and repair. Still, it could be a visual anchor for the “end” of the Powelton retail district.” The best thing for Hawthorne Hall could be to historically renovate it as a whole development and maintain it’s continuity. The building is an integral part of the area that activates several intersections with its presence. It could be a key part of the redevelopment of Lancaster Ave.

Other concerned parties on forums about Philadelphia architecture have also mentioned that the “primary problem with the building is that each section is owned by a different person or entity. That makes unified maintenance protocols nearly impossible.”


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