|Restoring the Beauty of 3815 Walnut Street
September 14, 2010,
Volume 57, No. 03
Adding to its eclectic history, the restoration of the façade and entrance to 3815 Walnut Street is now complete. The building, completed in 1889 and designed by Furness, Evans & Co, was one of four twin houses featuring brick and terra cotta façade and grand front porches facing Walnut Street. Of the four twins, only three remain, as the easternmost twin was demolished in the 1960s to accommodate the widening of 38th Street.
Once the home of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Weaver in 1894, the building was advertised for sale in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1921. The listing boasted that the structure was “suitable for apartment house” with 15 rooms, 3 baths and 4 stories through to Sansom Street with a rear garage.
The western half of this twin was acquired by the Penn Chapter of the Phi Beta Delta Fraternity, who in 1927, commissioned renovations that included the removal of the brick and terra cotta façade and the installation of rough textured “clinker” brickwork (somewhat similar to what was to be employed on Hill College House three decades later). By this time, the original Victorian porch had already been replaced by a more classicized version.
By 1959, the University had acquired both sides of the twin and 3815 Walnut Street would eventually become known for years as the Psychology Annex Building. In an effort to “modernize” the twin, a metallic ornamental screen was added to the upper floors, covering the textured clicker brickwork on the west side and the original brick and terra cotta on the east side.
In 2004, the psychology department relocated and the building began to house various programs for the School of Social Policy & Practice. The University decided to remove the metallic screen and discovered that the earlier brickwork and terra cotta had been painted black, but were in good condition.
About a year ago, Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, along with SP2-hired Cicada architects, endeavored to make the building more accessible and presentable to Walnut Street. The façade was cleaned and repointed, and a new porch was designed and built, based on a contemporary interpretation of the original Furness design. A lift was added to provide an accessible entrance to the building and new granite walls and site landscaping were installed.
Currently, the building houses five of SP2’s centers: the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research; the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center in Family Violence; the Center for Religion & Social Policy Research; Out-of-School Time Resource Center; and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy.