PHILADELPHIA — An architecturally significant structure at 15th and Walnut streets in Philadelphia, the Drexel Building, that was home to one of the city’s major financial institutions, was sold for $11.5 million.
The deal was between two local private partnerships that didn’t divulge their identities. The sale was arranged by Mallin Panchelli Nadel.
The six-story, 56,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1925 for Drexel & Co., a bank headed at one point by Edward T. Stotesbury, a financier and one of the country’s wealthiest men. It was under Stotesbury’s reign at the bank, during the early part of the early 20th century, that the building was constructed.
Stotesbury desired a structure fit for the Medicis, famed Florentine bankers of the 15th century, who Stotesbury’s lavish lifestyle was modeled after.
He “established standards for luxurious living and working conditions worthy of the greatest captains of finance,” said a 1979 nomination form to put the building on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that it received.
Taking cues from Stotesbury, the building was designed in the Renaissance style by Philadelphia architectural firm Day & Klauder. Its granite exterior is reminiscent of the Strozzi Palace in Florence, Italy. In keeping with characteristics of the Renaissance, the facade was designed to “belie its six stories and penthouse.” It appears more like a three-story structure.
The interior was also elaborately planned with detailed decorative elements throughout. A banking room on the first floor has marble wainscoting along with a paneled and coffered Renaissance ceiling that is gilded and creates the effect of a “jewel encrusted interior of a treasure chest.”
Drexel Bank eventually morphed into Drexel Firestone and later became part of the defunct and infamous Drexel Burnham Lambert firm that gained a sordid reputation in the 1980s with junk bonds.
The building currently houses a Bally’s fitness center on the lower level and offices on the upper floors. The new owner intends to keep the building as offices for now but could eventually reposition it for residential use, said Ken Mallin, who handled the sale with partner Josh Nadel.
Natalie Kostelni, Reporter
Philadelphia Business Journal