The Story behind the Round White Building in Philadelphia
By Madelyn Miller, the Travellady
of people drive by this distinctive building everyday, because it is
conveniently located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. But not many of them are aware
of the interesting history of the building.
Everyone in Phily knows the "round white" building which is
featured on hundreds of postcards of the city. Originally designed as the Plaza
Apartments, the building was home to such luminaries as Will Chamberlain and
Olympic rower Jack Kelly whose frequent visitor was his sister, Grace Kelly.
But it will always be important to me as the place where I
stayed on my first visit to my first grandchild. Of course I chose an elegant
place worthy of my new prince, Hudson Miller.
original design for the hotel was created in 1964-1966 by the Philadelphia
architect, Oskar Stonorov, who together with Louis I. Kahn, spearheaded the
"Philadelphia School of Architecture" also known as International Style.
Having undergone uncompleted renovations during the 70's
and 80's, the building was finally restored to Stonorov's original vision in
The removal of an added "skirt" to the building unveiled
bronze sculptural lanterns that were cast in Italy by Florentine sculptor Jorio
Vivarella. These forgotten works of art which had been spray painted and then
covered have also been restored to their original beauty and luster.
and Vivarelli collaborated on the Tuscan Girl Fountain, the 26-foot high
fountain, reflecting pool and sculpture adjoining the building. It holds the
distinction of having been called in the New York Times, "the worst single
sculpture of the twentieth century."
Stonorov himself said the sculpture portrayed " the
exuberance of youth frolicking in the waterfall."
neighborhood itself has a rich history. Until 1923, the site that is now Logan
Square was home to a gallows for public executions.
Just outside the hotel entrance is the Swann Memorial
Fountain, also known as the Fountain of Three Rivers.
The sculpture was unveiled at a public celebration in July
of 1924 and it is said that ten thousand people danced in the streets. The three
bronze Native American figures in the fountain sculptured by Philadelphian
Alexander Stirling Calder represent the 3 major waterways in Philadelphia—the
Wissahickon, the Schuykill, and the Delaware.
was proud to stay there for such an important event in my life.
And it is nice to know that in addition to all this great
historical ambiance, you also get a free breakfast at Friday's every morning.
Embassy Suites Philadelphia - Center City
1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103
FOR MORE INFORMATION
www.gophila.com and check out the blog
Philadelphia Independence Visitor Center (800) 537-7676.
WHERE TO EAT
Philly Falafel Vegetarian
1740 Sansom Street
very reasonably priced entrée allows the diner unlimited trips to the fresh
flavorful salad bar with fried cauliflower, minted carrots, coleslaw, beets,
pickles, and much more.
(and dining here will absolve you of any guilt for indulging in a decadent
chocolate dessert at the nearby places suggested below.)
Naked Chocolate Café
1317 Walnut Street
Philadelphia. PA 19107
Open Monday to Thursday 10AM-11PM
Friday and Saturday 10AM to 11:30PM
Sunday 11 AM to 9PM
1734 Chestnut Street
BEST PLACE TO GET CONNECTED
Ing Direct does more than just save you money. It gives you a free wireless
internet connection. They even have about a dozen computers you can use for free
to surf if you are in the neighborhood without your computer.
1636 Walnut Street
Philadelphia Home Art Garden
1225 Walnut Street
Show of Hands
a collection of crafts
1006 Pine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
By Beth D'Addono
THE THIRTEEN COLONIES
Travel Historic America