Historic Districts in Pennsylvania: An Evolving Sense of Place

Jim Thorpe, originally named Mauch Chunk, is a small and picturesque borough of well-preserved 19th-century buildings perched on the side of a mountain along the Lehigh River in Carbon County. It once served as an important railroad and coal shipping center. As these industries waned in the 20th century, the town sought new economic purpose by marketing its scenic appeal as the “Switzerland of...
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Modernizing Center City: Philadelphia’s Penn Center

Modernism came to Philadelphia in September 1947. It had been creeping up on the city for some time, but that’s when the citizenry who for decades had come to expect little from the machine that controlled city politics came to see how a modern Philadelphia could look. It was a 10-part vision of Modernism presented by the City Planning Commission’s Better Philadelphia Exhibition that was...
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Louis Kahn and Midcentury Modern Philadelphia

“A city should be a place where a little boy walking through its streets can sense what he would someday like to be.” For Louis I. Kahn, arguably the most influential American architect of the late 20th century, that city was Philadelphia. Kahn spent nearly his entire life in Philadelphia, attending grade school through college, teaching, practicing and designing a number of...
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Greenbelt Knoll

Greenbelt Knoll was built in 1956 by Morris Milgram (1916-97), an award-winning leader of the open housing movement in the United States. Designed by the firm of Montgomery & Bishop, in association with architect Harry Duncan and landscape architect Margaret Lancaster Duncan, with Louis Kahn as a consultant, it was the first planned integrated housing development in Philadelphia and one of...
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Editor’s Letter

The 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex gives us the opportunity at PHMC to commemorate the significance of not only our particular architectural treasure but also the many buildings, furnishings and designs of a similar mode created in the Keystone State during the mid-20th century. Accordingly, Midcentury Modern in Pennsylvania has been adopted as the agency’s...
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Wilson Eyre: The Philadelphia Domestic Ideal

At the turn of the twentieth century, Wilson Eyre was at the height of his architectural powers. For sixteen years he had had a successful practice in Philadelphia, one of America’s major architectural centers. The United States bad become a world power, with money to give con­crete evidence of this in the buildings of her great cities, and Philadelphia’s blend of conservative...
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Bookshelf

Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architec­ture by David Bruce Brownlee and David G. De Long Museum of Contemporary Art and Rizzoli International Publications, 1991 (448 pages, paper, $34.95) Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) had strong ties to Philadelphia during his internationally acclaimed architectural career. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1906, and was encouraged by the Graphic Sketch Club, Central...
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A Passion for Wood: The Life and Legacy of Wharton Esherick

When Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) left Philadelphia for the countryside and heavily wooded hills near Valley Forge in 1913, he was a disillusioned painter struggling to find his artistic identity. By the time of his death nearly six decades later, he had not only discovered his identity but had become renowned for his sculptural furniture which earned for him the title “the dean of...
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The Value of Pennsylvania History

George W. Bush won the presidential election of 2000 because the fifty states cast more electoral votes for him, even though more people actually voted for his opponent, Albert A. Gore Jr. The election reminded Americans about a curious institution called the Electoral College, and an equally peculiar system known as federalism in which each state conducts elections according to distinct laws...
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World War II Connellsville Canteen

Within days of the declaration of World War II in December 1941, American troops began mobilizing, moving swiftly across the country on their way to the front. Embracing a strong need to be a part of the war effort on the home front, many towns and cities organized canteens at their railroad depots to serve troop trains passing through. At the war’s outbreak, Con­nellsville, in Fayette...
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