First Major African-American Office Building in Philly
According to Inga Saffron's article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, at p. H21, The three-story structure is believed to be the first major Center City office building commissioned by an African American businessman, Raymond Pace Alexander, one of Philadelphia's great civil rights figures. Not only was Alexander the first black person to graduate from the Wharton School, he went on to study law at Harvard and become a top judge in Pennsylvania. It was his lawsuit that led to the desegregation of Philadelphia's movie theaters. It continues, So, when the city's office landlords refused to lease him space for his law office - fearing his practice would bring too many black clients through their lobbies - he responded by commissioning his own building in 1934. The result is as elegantly tailored as the man himself. The article says that Jewish architect Frank Hahn designed the art deco building, and he had also done the Jewish Y at Broad and Vine.
Alexander Building , 1900 Chestnut Street , 19th & Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States
African American History, Architecture, Buildings, History