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Girard Trust: 1909

Girard Trust: 1909

Philadelphia circa 1909. "Girard Trust Company." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Faithfully Reproduced

The Bankers Magazine, September, 1908.

On August 21 the Girard Trust Company of Philadelphia began business in its new building at the northwest corner of Broad and Chestnut streets, a structure acknowledged as a triumph of architectural beauty. The beginning of business in this building—one of the best in the United States devoted exclusively to banking purposes—is strong proof of the progress which has been made by this concern in common with other Philadelphia banking houses during the last decade.

The building was modeled after the Pantheon, and the effect of noble and stately lines of the original has been faithfully reproduced in white marble. The idea to use this design came to Effingham B. Morris, the president, while on a visit to Rome. He made a rough draft and this with the necessary changes to meet the requirements of modern business, was developed by Allen Evans, a Philadelphia architect, and Charles E. McKim, of New York.

It was first planned to use granite, but the architects urged the selection of marble because of the added beauty. Georgia stone was selected, largely because it is of a hard, non-absorbent nature, and is not quickly discolored by the smoke and' dirt of a city. This marble has been used inside and out, except in parts of the interior, where the effect could be heightened by the use of panels of Pavernazza marble. More than 9000 tons of marble have been used, and this item alone involved an expenditure of more than $500,000.

Serious Poshitude

I was curious to see the Girard's lobby interior and found these current views in the Ritz Carlton photo gallery.

Pretty glorious, but I don't think I'd feel quite up to stopping there unless I was dressed like Hercule Poirot.

Neo-Classical Disaster

How many marble cliffs were sacrificed in the building of this nightmare!

Like the Pantheon

Like the Pantheon the dome features a large oculus (but glazed, unlike Rome's). This is but one reason the huge white marble interior is stunning. It's grand to simply sit on one of the many padded chairs or benches and simply relax and drink in the voluminous space.

The Other Parthenon

Yow. Thanks, marmarinou. Serves me right. I did indeed mean, and am quite certain I typed Pantheon (kinda quite certain anyway), as in the Pantheon of Rome. But, so far as I know, there's no automatic spelling correction feature on Shorpy that I can blame, unlike the Office suite on my PC, which regularly pulls pranks on me like that.

The Dome Building

Known for many years as One Girard Plaza, or, to those who worked at Girard, simply "The Dome Building"

An incredible example of late 19th century architecture and construction (massive amounts of limestone), the interior is as impressive as the exterior. At one time, the bank's president was in the corner of the ground floor at Broad and Chestnut Sts., just to the right of the trolley in the photograph.


willc: did you mean the Pantheon of Rome rather than the Parthenon of Athens?


The building is now the lobby/restaurant area of the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton. It's worth dropping in just to see the lobby or to have a drink in the rotunda.

The Other Right

Aha! It took me awhile, tterrace, to find the Robinson Building. Only when I realized that it's at the "proper right" of the photo, the dexter hand, not the sinister hand, the Girard Trust Building's right, was I able to place it. Now that I'm back in sync, does anyone know if the inspiration for the Girard Trust Building was the Parthenon, Monticello, or both, or neither?

[Yow. Thanks, I've corrected that. - tterrace]

Girard today

At the right left, note that the Robinson Building at S. 15th & Chestnut is also still there.

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