Student Life

Back to Blog October 24, 2016

A Long Battle Finally Won for the PECO Delaware Station

Author: Andrea Smith
PECO Delaware Station

In the Fall of 2014, potential owners bid on the PECO Delaware Station with many visions for the site. Whether or not these projects included keeping the 223,000 sq ft building, changes would still be made that would not only affect the site, but the surrounding area of Fishtown. Designed in 1917 by John T. Windram and William Eglin along the Delaware River, the original PECO building served as a culturally and historically important structure for the changing Philadelphia area. Stephanie Haller, BS Arch and Arch Pres. ’15, decided to nominate the exterior of the building to be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places as her Architectural Preservation Capstone Project. She came in contact with Fishtown Neighbors Association member Jill Betters, who assisted Stephanie in the advocacy to save the building. Another close contact was Kim Broadbent of the Historical Commission, who assisted in editing the nomination of the building. However, during the time of Stephanie’s research and nomination process, the PECO Building was sold to developer Bart Blatstein and Joseph Volpe of Cescaphe Event Group, with plans to create an event space and banquet hall with a possible hotel on the site.

Time was crunched to complete the nomination before any set plans for the site were approved, but the first submission of the nomination in Fall 2015 did not receive the outcome hoped for: it was deemed “incomplete and incorrect” by the Historical Commission. Stephanie continued to re-work and research the building, editing the nomination to include as many details possible regarding historical and architectural significance, while also gathering support from Fishtown residents to save the PECO Delaware Station. After resubmitting the nomination in March of 2016, the building was designated an historical building with the potential of being added to the Register. This past August 2016, the Historical Commission voted to have the PECO Delaware Building added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The consensus was that the building was built by an architect who was influential to the area, and was historically, culturally, and architecturally important to the growing Fishtown area and deserves to be preserved. The initial plans the developers had did intend to keep the main building on the site, but now changes will be made to accommodate the entire building site and its exterior for the future event space.

Thank you to the dedication from Stephanie Haller, ’15, and to Fishtown Neighbors Alliance Member Jill Betters and Historical Commission Member Kim Broadbent for assisting on Stephanie’s nomination.  Thanks to their work, many people in the Fishtown and surrounding areas have found the beauty in Philadelphia’s historic buildings. Not only can these structures be saved from demolition, but they can also be repurposed to benefit the community while keeping their architectural and historical significance. The PECO Delaware Station is now one of those buildings: it will be able to keep its architecturally significant exterior, and have a promising future to once again serve the community.