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Designed by the famous Prussian-born architect Albert Kahn, the building at 317-321 N. Broad Street is the Packard Motor Corporation Building. Dating to 1910-1911, the seven-story, steel framed building clad in terra cotta is one of the first commercial buildings to use reinforced concrete. The building was designed to be a showroom and assembly building for the Detroit-based company's automobiles. The car company abandoned the building in the late 1920s and it housed newspapers for decades, giving it a new nickname - the Press Building. The Packard Motor Corporation Building became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The building was renovated and became apartments in 1986.

The latest model of Packard Twin-6 automobile from a 1916 advertisement by the Philadelphia plant (Packard Motor Corp.)

Motor vehicle, Automotive design, Vehicle, Automotive tire

2010 photo of main facade of Packard Motor Corporation Building (smallbones)

Land vehicle, Commercial building, Building, Mixed-use

Packard Motor Car Building entrance canopy in 2013 photo (Beyond My Ken)

Commercial building, Iron

1920 newspaper ad for the gasoline-saving Packard 'Fuel-izer' carburetor (Packard Motor Car Company)

Line, Machine, Font, Parallel

The architects of the Packard Motor Corporation Building on N. Broad Street, Kahn and Wilby, of Detroit, were one of the pre-eminent firms of the era's industrial buildings. Albert Kahn's 1903 Packard Assembly Plant was a hallmark in the emerging auto industry. The Philadelphia building lot was only 75 feet wide but the building reached back to an adjoining street. The three bays along the main facade contain large, industrial windows above the ground floor. The first two stories of the Packard Motor Car Building are fixed glass in metal frames, with a central canopy projecting over the entrance. The terra cotta panels cladding the rest of the building are decorated with rosettes. The top of the seventh story is decorated with dentils and modillions supporting a strong overhanging cornice. Giant rosettes on the entablature add to the style statement. Albert Kahn once said that architecture was 90 percent business and 10 percent art; he used classical and historical elements in his work, but with restraint. His brother, Julius was an engineer and designed the way to clad structural steel with concrete that Albert used in the Packard building. The interior showroom was re-designed in 1927 by Philip Tyre to be an impressive space for Packard car shoppers, with two-story tall piers supporting huge plastered beams embossed with a grape vine motif. Electrical chandeliers hung from the beams.

The Packard Motor slogan was "Ask the man who owns one." In August 1916, the latest models of Packard Twin-6 automobile were advertised by the Philadelphia plant in the local newspaper. The series 2-25 and 2-35 boasted a slightly lower body with more flowing lines, refinement of the mechanism, and removable cylinder heads; the prices were $2,865 and $3,265. The company switched to producing 100 percent of its output as trucks for the American war effort in 1918. Packard was back to producing passenger cars by January 1919, as well as trucks for the private citizen. The Packard twelve-cylinder engine was still the company standard in early 1919.

The Philadelphia Record newspaper was first published in Philadelphia in 1870. The newspaper's offices moved from the 900 block of Chestnut Street to the former Packard building at the end of the 1920s. With the hiring of Orrin C. Evans in the early 1930s, the newspaper became one of the first in the country to hire an African-American reporter to cover general assignments for a mainstream White newspaper. The newspaper went out of business in 1947 and was sold to its competitor for the evening newspaper, the Philadelphia Bulletin. The Bulletin published its newspaper until January 1982.

The Reinhold Residential company has restored the apartment building's lobby to its former appearance. The Packard Motor Car Building apartments are divided into studios, one- or two-bedroom units. Recently renovated, the apartments have gourmet kitchens, hardwood flooring, and washer-dryers. The complex also offers an attended lobby, fitness center, private meeting rooms, and a business center.

Dougherty, Christopher .. The Other Kahn, Hidden City. Exploring Philadelphia's Urban Landscape. Blog.. January 14th 2014. Accessed December 17th 2020.

Jones, Jae. Meet Orrin C. Evans, the 'Dean of Black Reporters and the 'Father of Black Comic Books', Black Then. June 19th 2018. Accessed December 18th 2020.

Packard Motor Car Company. "Packard Motor Car Company Resumes Production of Cars and Trucks." Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA) January 15th 1919. Night Extra ed, 9-9.

Reinhold Residential. Packard Motor Car Building, Amenities, Center City Apartments. Accessed December 17th 2020.

Thomas, George E. NRHP Nomination of Packard Motor Corp. Building, Philadelphia. National Register. Washington, DC. National Park Service, 1979.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA, August 29th 1916, Night Extra ed., 4-4

Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, PA, April 14th 1920, Night Extra ed., 15-15