Friday, October 23, 2009

Broadwood Hotel

At one time, and now again, South Broad Street is spotted with the grand homes to Philadelphia's performing arts community. However North Broad Street was at once the post industrial home to the new, 20th century art world and briefly experienced the decadence afforded by the Industrial Revolution with massive entertainment venues never attempted in the historically stuffy and bourgeois theaters on and surrounding South Broad Street.

One of the most monolithic - and recent - architectural losses of North Broad Street's Golden Age was the Broadwood Hotel which also served as the Elk's Lodge and Philadelphia Athletic Club. Completed in 1924 by Ballinger Company and Andrew J. Samuel, it housed a ballroom that hosted the Eugene Ormandy Orchestra and saw many outstanding and historically relevant performances through its life. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 yet like many other gems of North Broad Street met the wrecking ball a short time later. Like many victims of Philadelphia's "renaissance", it is now the site of an uninspired parking garage - next and adjacent to three other large surface parking lots - operated by the parasitic Parkway Corporation.
It's history is hazy, it's loss all but forgotten, along with countless other North Broad Street masterpieces.

3 comments:

  1. The Broadwood is where Peggy Lou Baldwin stayed when she took control of the body from Sybil Ann Dorsett in the book Sybil. Peggy fled NYC after emerging during one of Sybil's fugue states, surrendering control of the body days later during a Philadelphia snowstorm. Sybil 'came to' on a strange street and used a hotel room key she found in her purse to deduce that she was in Philadelphia, staying at the Broadwood, a hotel with which Sybil was familiar. See the book "Sybil" by Flora Rheta Schreiber.

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  2. There was no Eugene Ormandy Orchestra. The Philadelphia Orchestra, under music director Eugene Ormandy, made many memorable recordings at the Broadwood between the late 1950s and late 1960s. While the Philadelphia Orchestra had recorded in its home, the Academy of Music, since 1926, that venue proved unacceptable for stereo recordings, which became available on LP in the late 1950s. The Broadwood Hotel's ballroom was ideal for stereo recording, though not popular with the musicians.

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