1500 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa
Located between the Rittenhouse and Logan Square sections of Philadelphia, the southwest corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets has been the home to only a few buildings in the last 184 years. One of the most notable of those structures is the Colonnade Hotel. Built on the previous site of a nice row of townhomes called Colonnade Row, there is no wonder as to how the Hotel received its name.
Designed by one of Philadelphia’s famous architects John Haviland, George and Charles Blight built Colonnade Row in 1830. With its unique design, the long stretch of connected homes stood four stories high. The building was fronted with first story columns made out of wood and iron spanning the entire length of the building. Surrounded by shops, homes, theaters and banks, Colonnade Row certainly added to the life of the area. As times changed, builders demolished parts of Colonnade Row to make room for one of Philadelphia’s most important but forgotten hotels - the Colonnade Hotel.
Architect John Crump, the builder of the Chestnut Street Theater and the Union League of America building, designed and built the Colonnade Hotel. The Colonnade was finished in 1868 and opened in the spring of 1870. The hotel stood seven stories high and offered living spaces for long-term dwellers and temporary guests. In 1880, John Crump left the hotel’s management to his two sons George R. and Henry, who eventually handed the business over to their cousin, and later famous golf course architect, George A. Crump, in 1902. In 1910, George A. Crump sold the Colonnade to realtor Martin E. Greenhouse.
Greenhouse had big plans for the site, and he hoped to demolish the building to build a 20 story high-rise hotel that would exceed the size of the Colonnade. However, Greenhouse never fulfilled his plans, and he continued to operate the Colonnade for another seven years. The hotel sold in 1917 to the once popular department store, Bonwit Teller Company. Although Bonwit Teller Company had plans to turn the Colonnade into a department store, it served the City of Philadelphia and its visitors as a hotel until it closed for good five years later.
The building’s new owner Albert M. Greenfield had different ideas for the hotel site. In 1925, Greenfield demolished the Colonnade Hotel and built a high-rise structure for the Franklin Trust Company. The building had a few names including the Greenfield Building, the Franklin Trust Building, and later on, the Pennsylvania House. Today the building still stands and serves as The Ellington luxury condominiums.
Throughout the years, the Colonnade Hotel not only served as a place for people to lodge, but it also served as a convention center of sorts. Conferences and meetings at the Colonnade were common for businesses and organizations, as it offered the proper services to do so. The Colonnade served as one of the hosts for delegates from around the country attending the 1872 Republican National Convention, where the party nominated President Ulysses S. Grant for reelection. In October of 1894, representatives of the American Baseball Association met at the Colonnade to reorganize and rename its organization The American Association of Baseball Clubs.
Not only did The American Association of Baseball Clubs establish its new beginnings at the Colonnade Hotel, it was the venue for the forming of Ursinus College’s alumni association and the meeting place for the National Union League of America to discuss national and world affairs. The various owners of the Colonnade took great pride in its nice location and services. Newspapers as west as Lawrence, Kansas, as south as Atlanta, Georgia and as north as Bangor, Maine recognized the Hotel’s successful reputation. The next time you stroll down Chestnut Street above Broad, be sure to take a look at the southwest corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets and remember what once stood as one of Philadelphia’s important social hot spots.