A major work of Frank Furness, an important late 19th century architect, the library was a masterpiece of design when built. Begun in 1888, the exterior appears to be a red-brick and stone, Gothic ecclesiastical structure with gargoyles and crockets and with the Romanesque details of large rounded arches and heavily rusticated stone. The building is constructed of iron and brick with terra-cotta and smooth and pecked redstone trim. The plan is approximately 140 feet along an 8 bay front by 80 feet with a three story lateral book stack. There were side and rear additions, in fact, the library was designed to be added to; the book stack wing could be extended as needed with the growth of the collection. Part of the integrity of this building is its passage through time with additions as part of its historical importance (There were changes and additions in 1914, 1923, 1931, 1947, 1963, and 1982).
There are four stories on a raised basement with a five-story square battlemented tower, a tile hipped roof with cross gable on the main section and with tiled conical roof on the apsidal north end and glass gable, shed roofs on the book stacks.
The Entrance is a massive porch of dressed stone that leads one into the entry which is dominated by a great iron staircase that rises the full height of the 95 foot tower. In Furness’ original design the main reading room and tower were on the left, and to the right, the three-story housing for the stacks.
"The main area of the library was the large catalogue room whose walls originally rose majestically to an iron-vaulted ceiling three stories above. Unfortunately, the third story was closed over in later years to gain more usable space. The catalogue itself called forth favorable comment for it stood between public and staff areas, and was accessible from both sides. To the north of the catalogue room is the large apsidal-shaped reading room, divided into six alcoves, and rising to a high-vaulted ceiling carried on curving iron beams radiating around the semicircular apse. The stacks were in a wing to the south that was designed to be extended a bay at a time by simply pushing out the end walls on jack screws and adding more metal book stacks. Light flooded the stacks through the glass roof and down through a novel system of translucent glass floors that, with the exception of the iron supports, were not butted into the metal stacks, but rather floated freely through the aisles allowing circulation of air as well as light.(1)
It is the monumental foliate detailing that distinguishes the interior. There are the typical Furnessian compressed columns and the elegant terra-cotta ornament that embellish his buildings. The newest addition to the building houses the Louis Kahn Collection as well as a rare architectural book collection.
Frank Furness is now recognized as one of the most important architects of the 19th century and, along with H.H. Richardson, the most important designer of libraries in the country. The University of Pennsylvania library was considered the most innovative library of its time. It was one of the first to separate the reading room and book stacks. Books were kept in a separate wing, which was designed so that the rear wall could be removed on jackscrews and new bays added as needed. Light was admitted through translucent glass floors and a sloping glass roof.
"The building was started in 1888, completed in 1890 at a cost of $200,000, and dedicated in 1891. Librarians considered it a masterpiece of library planning and function. At the dedication, the University’s Provost, Dr. William Pepper, said, "What we see here today is indeed impressive. The genius of the architect has wrought into this admirable form the complex needs of a great library." The Library Journal(August, 1888) considered it the nation’s best college library building."(2)
Ultimately it is the rich foliate ornament that covers the exterior and interior in contrast with the color of the building material brick, limestone, and terra-cotta that makes the structure so unique. The penchant for a personal ornament reached its fullest expression in the work of Louis Sullivan a decade later.
The library interior is made even richer by beautiful leaded-glass windows embellished with pithy sayings from Shakespeare and Greek and Latin classics.
The windows are in keeping with Ruskin’s philosophy concerning hand crafts and moralizing. Probably meant for students, one of the most beautiful reads, ”Talkers are no great doers.” Gothic types of ornament also embellish the large fireplace in the reading room that is reminiscent of the Queen Anne decoration of Shaw and Webb in England and of Ware and Van Brunt and H.H. Richardson in America.
"However, Furness also embraced modern technology, and among the most noticeable interior features of the building is the substantial use of exposed iron. In part, this is explained by the influence of Viollet-le-Duc, who espoused this practice, The cusped iron brackets supporting the lantern in the reading area were probably inspired by the Frenchman’s design for a similar construction in his Entretiens sur l’architecture (Vol. II, PI. 19).
One of the most significant differences between the library and Furness’ earlier buildings can be seen in the metalwork- especially in the stair tower. No longer was Furness designing his own metalwork, with its unique cusped and abstract vegetal forms, such as those seen in the stair rails of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.”(3)
This ready-made ornament is the result of Philadelphia becoming a center of ironworking with firms such as Wood and Perot and Samuel Yellin. They achieved national fame with their products. Frank Furness was aware of technological innovations and adapted his ornament to standardized motifs that could be more easily produced.
The Furness Library is one of the last Ruskinian Victorian buildings but it was, in addition to its Victorian aspect, an uncompromising functional masterpiece. It’s ornamental interiors would soon be replaced by in America Neo-Classic purity as practiced by McKim, Mead and White.
(1) Massey, James. Charette. October 1963 Frank Furness in the 1880’s. p. 29.
(2) Ibid, p. 29.
(3) Architecture and Ornament in Late 19th-century America. University of Delaware 1981, p. 26.
In 1883 Muybridge was invited by Rogers to give two lectures in Philadelphia, leading to an invitation from University of Pennsylvania Provost William Pepper to work on a series of animal locomotion studies.
In 1873 Frank Furness designed a new façade, additions and alterations to a house at 2113 Spruce Street in Philadelphia. The house was owned by long time Furness friend, Rudulph Ellis.
Rudulph Ellis had served with Furness in Rush’s Lancers during the Civil War and is an excellent example of the close circles in which Furness did a lot of his work. In addition to their shared time with Rush’s Lancers, Ellis was a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and of the Commercial Trust Company both of which employed Furness in designing buildings. Other ties include, Ellis, while with the Fidelity Trust Company, as an underwriter for the International Mercantile Marine trust of another of Furness’s clients, Clement Acton Griscom, and Ellis’s father-in-law, William Struthers, from whom he acquired 2113 Spruce, as the stone supplier for Furness’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
At No. 2113 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, is situated the elegantly-furnished house of Mr. Rudulph Ellis, of which Mr. Frank Furness was the architect. On the right of the main hall is the library, and beyond it, in an alcove, the staircase; on the left the drawing-room, and at the extreme end the dining-room. The library is finished “throughout in antique oak, carved and heavily paneled; the wall-spaces are decorated with gold on a ground of solid crimson; the frieze appears to be made of the juxtaposition of perpendicular reeds of a light-brown hue ; and the ceiling is an intricate net-work, or “Chinese puzzle,” of deep oaken squares and curves, through which are seen occasional glimpses of crimson, which repeats itself in the stamped-plush hangings and portières.
Similarly treated, but in a lighter shade of oak, is the wainscot of the hall and the dining-room, where the ceiling, again heavily beamed, is decorated in crimson, white, and gold, and the oaken furniture covered with leather of a tint to match the lustrous crimson of the portières. An exquisitely-designed silver service, chased and embossed, and a set of dessert-plates painted after the pictures by Greuze, in the Louvre, are among the principal attractions of this place of repast.
Opening hence is the double drawing-room, with its superb upholsteries and generous hangings of damask satin of turquoise-blue. Even the lofty pier-glass of the mantel is draped with this delicate material, which establishes the color-note of the whole room. The most important of the pictorial attractions is the Troyon — a white-and-red cow standing near a large tree in the open. Unlike some of his imitators, Troyon gets not only masses and values but the stereoscopic quality of atmosphere, and, in addition to this, that intense richness of color, combined with the delicacy of the real sentiment of nature, which is the despair of most painters, and that frank sincerity of expression which has sometimes been thought to be obtainable only in fresco. The decorative aspect of this work, great as it is, is not its principal title to consideration; along with it is the profound spiritual interpretation of sky, atmosphere, and animal life.
The pleasant facility of Villegas in arranging a bouquet of color displays itself admirably in Mr. Ellis’s example of that able representative of the Hispano-French school, to whom Nature appears in the guise of a garden of flowers; and the specimens of Rico, Delort, Meyer von Bremen, and Papperitz are excellent of their kind. The room is lighted by an immense chandelier of glass crystals. Particular mention may be made of the mirror in the library, which consists of plate-glass backed by black velvet instead of the usual quicksilver, and produces a darkly-mysterious effect, like that made by the reflections from a very old oil-painting.
Jefferson Medical College Hospital(Thomas Jefferson University Hospital) Philadelphia, PA c1875-1877
The Jefferson Medical College Hospital was designed by Frank Furness in 1875. The hospital would be Frank Furness’s first project after the dissolution of his partnership with George Hewitt. Hewitt had been under an “extended spell of sickness,” which saw him unable to work. Local contractor, John Ketcham, was the builder.
The hospital building would be torn down after 1922 when newer facilities were built in its place.
"The building was modern, well equipped, architecturally attractive, and the pride of the School. A two-story shed-roofed structure to the left accommodated the clinical amphitheater, and a five-story structure to the side and rear housed the hospital proper. The basement functioned for kitchens, laundry, and storerooms. The first floor of the hospital provided a public lobby, administrative offices, apothecary, and surgical-preparation rooms for the adjacent "pit." The second floor was assigned to the clinics, while the third and fourth floors each contained two wards. The fifth floor contained ten private rooms, a suite of three rooms with a fireplace for the Resident Physician, and a matron’s room. The elevator and stairs were at the rear of the “L” where the two structures adjoined. The total bed capacity was 125…The Hospital was of immediate benefit to patients and student teaching. The first seven months witnessed the admission of 6452 patients, who came not only from local areas but from distant parts of the country. The United States government established a Marine Ward in which the government paid 85 cents a day per patient. Private patients were charged $2 a day, and ward patients, when able, paid from $5 to $7 per week. Ward patients were not charged a physician’s fee. Groth in the clinics was phenomenal and simultaneously showed 6,254 new outpatients for a total of 23,510 visits.”
Messrs. Editors, — The Jefferson Medical College Hospital is so near completion that it will not be premature to attempt a description of this fine building…
…It is a noble structure, very handsome and sightly. The architects were Messrs. Furness and Hewitt, of Philadelphia. The style of architecture may be termed eclectic, not being modeled after any one school. Mr. Furness has evidently depended upon his unfailing originality, and as usual has given universal satisfaction. The material of which it is composed is “stretched” brick, with Ohio stone trimmings. The bricks are laid in black mortar, which gives the effect of dark pointing. There are five stories and a roomy basement. The ground-plan measures one hundred and twenty-seven by one hundred and seventeen feet. Entering by the main door from Sansom Street we find ourselves in a vestibule which opens into a corridor eleven feet three inches in width. This corridor crosses the whole breadth of the building, and terminates in an opposite entrance on Medical Street. On the right of the Sansom Street entrance is a janitor’s room ; at the right of this a spacious apothecary’s apartment, which occupies the northwest corner of the building on the first floor. Over this, on a half story, are the apothecary’s sleeping rooms, etc. Passing along the main corridor, the next apartment on the right is the “reception room” for all out-patients. Here they will be assorted and afterward sent to the surgeon, physician, obstetrician, etc., as the case may require. This room measures about thirty-five feet by twenty-eight feet, has two large windows, and in opposite corners spacious water-closets for the two sexes.
The next right-hand door from the corridor admits us to the surgeon’s room. Here, at his hour, he will find patients who have been sent in from the reception room. Opening out of this is his private room, where he may examine single patients, or even private patients if he so choose. Every one of these private rooms has its washing and water-closet conveniences. The next opening on the right of the corridor is the main stair-way, which, being the same on every floor, I will describe in toto here. When we reach the lower landing, in going along the corridor, our feet leave wood and strike iron, for this and every other landing up to the roof is of solid iron. The stairs are iron set in stone and brick. The railings are of the same metal. The stairs wind around an iron and heavy wire elevator which ascends to the fifth story, thus virtually doing away with the stairs in so far as the patients and visiting physicians are concerned. The lower landing leads also to a short flight of steps which end at the Juvenal Street door. On every main landing of the stairway are two large fire-plugs, to each of which a coil of hose will be kept constantly attached. These fire-plugs are connected with large Worthington duplex steam-pumps in the basement, which can force water all over the building. The plugs also have the pressure of water from an immense iron tank in the fifth story which will always be kept full, and they receive water directly from the street mains. It can hardly be possible, then, in case of fire that an abundant supply of water would be lacking. It will thus be seen that the main stairway is a veritable fire-escape which, if need occur, can be kept deluged with water. Behind the stair-way (first floor on the right) are the dining and sitting rooms of the officers of the house. These are reached from the floor above by a private staircase, and occupy the southwestern corner of the building. Returning now to the Sansom Street entrance of the corridor, we find on our left a small waiting room for medical out-patients who are to go before the students. Across a passage way is the medical lecturer’s private room. The only other left-hand opening out of the corridor leads into storerooms. When we again reach the iron stair- way we turn to the left into a passage way, on the right hand of which are the medical, obstetric, and eye apartments, each having its private room. The oculist has also a third, the “dark room,” in which to use the ophthalmoscope. These rooms, together with the officers’ rooms before mentioned, occupy the southern portion of the first floor, house. This space is entirely filled by the noble lecture room and its ante. We have a remaining large space north of these rooms into which the passage way opens, and which extends to the northern or Sansora Street side of the rooms. The latter are on the left of the waiting room already mentioned as being on the left entrance of the corridor, and consist of a second, the surgical waiting room, surgeon’s private room, and an apartment for private operations or examinations. These have nothing in common with the surgical and medical rooms on the other side of the house. Entering now the lecture room we find ourselves in an apartment in the form of an ellipse, with seats ascending in rows to the top of the building; for the lecture room is an independent structure, having its own sky light, and completing the square, the other two sides of which are formed by the main building and its southern wing. The latter, of course, are several stories higher than the lecture room. An arc of the lecture-room ellipse, over the private entrance, has no benches. This space was thus left unoccupied at the suggestion of Professor Gross, in order to spare the lecturer the necessity of constantly turning round to address the students in the rear, as he must do in the old amphitheatre in the college. The benches here are of poplar, and are very comfortable, the seats being seventeen inches and the backs twenty-five inches high. In order to make it convenient for the students of one row to look over the heads of their fellows in a front row, an allowance of eight inches above the eyes of a person of ordinary height when sitting was made for each row. A common annoyance was thus avoided. The “bull-ring,” as everybody here calls it, will have a revolving table. Water is abundantly provided, and the sink for washing sponges, etc. is furnished with a four-inch waste-pipe, expanding at its upper end and covered with two grated valves, which are eight inches apart, a New York invention, and very convenient. The room has twelve wall-ventilators, iron roof-girders, a double glazed roof with palace-car top, the windows being easily managed by cords from below. Students enter from the second story of the southern wing of the hospital about half-way up the seats. Opposite the lecturer’s entrance is a second, by means of which patients will be brought into the room on a wheeled platform, to which they will be moved after being brought down from the wards on the elevator, bed and all. The lecture-room will seat six hundred to six hundred and fifty students, has abundance of window-light, and is, all in all, the finest amphitheatre of which I have any knowledge. Beneath the benches are several rooms which will be used for storage purposes.
Ascending to the second floor of the hospital we find the same arrangement of main passage ways running south, then east. At the Sansom Street end are two bath-rooms, then going south, four large rooms, three of which will be devoted to special cases or classes of patients; the fourth will be used as the superintendent’s business room. In the southwestern corner, beyond the fire-escape, are the janitor’s rooms, five urinals with glass backs and flag-stone floor, and five water-closets for the use of students. From this point, going east, are four other small, special wards. It is from the main passage way, just here, that students enter the lecture room. Mounting to the third floor we come upon the main wards of the house. One of these occupies the southern wing and runs east and west. The other occupies the western wing and runs north and south. Each ends at the fire-escape, in the comer beyond which are three bath-rooms, two water-closets, nurses’ special diet kitchen, and a steam-closet, lined with glass, and having a door made perfectly air-tight by means of strips of rubber. This steam-bath is for the use of skin cases, and is modeled after those in the New York Hospital. In the angle on the northeast of the passage ways are linen closets and store-rooms. One ward is about seventy feet long by forty feet wide. The other about five feet smaller each way. In one there are six iron columns as supporters, in the other three. There will be about two thousand cubic feet of air to each bed. The wards are ventilated by what is known as the “up-and-down” system, which may be explained as follows: —
In order to secure dryness the wards have double walls. Between them are foul-air ducts with openings from the wards near the ceiling and at the floor. These foul-air ducts, which have been put in as plentifully as space permitted, run straight to the basement, turn at right angles beneath the cement floor, and terminate in the big stacks or chimneys, within each of which is a large iron pipe kept constantly hot by means of a heated current from the furnaces. In this way the foul air around the pipe becomes heated, ascends, and thus produces a movement which acts on the air in the wards. That this system is thoroughly effectual has already been accidentally proved. The wards one day became filled with smoke. Soon after it was seen issuing from the chimneys in which are located the foul-air shafts. Fresh air enters the wards in two ways: first, cold air enters directly by means of gratings inserted in the walls beneath each window. Directly in front of each opening stands a radiator heated by steam. The cold air from without becomes warmed while passing over these radiators. Secondly, fresh air enters the basement by large ducts, is there heated, and afterward driven up into the wards, which it enters by means of the ordinary register. At each end of each ward is a brick fireplace for the purpose of further purification of the air. One corner of each ward is partitioned off, and will be used as nurse’s chamber. The wards and especially those on the fourth floor are above the level of surrounding buildings, have a flood of sunlight, abundance of air, and a fine outlook as well. The floors are composed of narrow strips of hard pine, smoothly planed, and are to be thoroughly shellacked. In these apartments as well as in every other place where there are water-pipes, the latter instead of being out of sight beneath the floors or behind the walls are all in full view. Of course they do not add to the beauty of the interior arrangements but the object in thus placing them is practical. In case of needed repairs, a leak or other trouble can be found at once, and remedied without necessity of tearing away wood-work. Every ward has a dumb-waiter which runs down to the basement. The fourth floor is precisely like the third. The fifth floor will be kept for the use of private patients. There are ten chambers, five on either side of the passage way, each more spacious than a single room in a hotel. Near by are the bath-room and three water-closets, large linen and other closets, nurses’ room, etc. On this floor are also the parlors and chambers of resident physicians and matron, with private bath-room, etc., to each suite. From the top of the building and running down to the basement is an immense tin tunnel, which opens on each floor, and which will be used as a “soiled-clothes shute.” It is easy to see the convenience of this ingenious aid. It will, too, in a measure, promote the good health of the hospital. On the fifth floor the nurses’ room has an annunciator to indicate in which of the private rooms the bell has been rung. The nurses’ room communicates with the resident physicians’ room by means of speaking-tubes, which also run down to the apothecary’s department. There sre also electric bells all over the house for the use of the superintendent, physicians, lecturers, etc., and the speaking-tubes run to every floor.
Finally the basement. Without giving its plan I will mention its uses and coveniences. Its main centre is occupied by the boiler room and rooms for coal and wood. The sides of the basement are occupied by patients’ smoking and recreation rooms, floored with cement; servants’ rooms floored with wood and having bathing and other conveniences attached; servants’ dining-room, large store and china closets floored with lithogen; a large kitchen well ventilated and supplied with every contrivance for cooking; spacious laundry, ironing and drying rooms, and pantry, all floored with lithogen; also the dead room. In the basement are two boilers, respectively forty and sixty horse-power, and two engines of fifteen horse-power, one of them high and the other a low pressure engine. One is used independently for the elevator, the other runs the washing and wringing machines and the mangle in the laundry. All the machinery can be run from either boiler. We also notice on every hand “man holes” which will serve the purpose of cleansing the foul-air ducts. Attached to every water-closet in the house is an invention by means of which every basin receives a certain amount of carbolic acid whenever the water is turned on. The whole structure is heated by steam. The walls throughout the building have a hard plaster finish. The main roof has a palace-car top, double glazed, and there are proper facilities for opening and closing the drop windows from below.
The land on which the building stands cost $45,000, the cost of the building was $94,000, of steam and gas fitting and heating power, $18,000, and bills for furnishing, etc., will probably make the total amount for the building, exclusive of land, $140,000 to $150,000.
If I have made myself clear, I have shown you that this hospital comprises every possible comfort and convenience, and that, although located in the heart of the city, its possibilities are not surpassed by those of any other city hospital. The building committee includes besides some of the trustees of the college, Professor Da Costa, Drs. Frank F. Maury, John Brinton, and Ellwood Wilson. Drs. Maury and Brinton have been especial]y and constantly active in superintending and planning the arrangements of the hospital, and to the former gentleman I am indebted for the ready courtesy with which he supplied me with many of the details of my letter. As yet, the time for the inauguration of the hospital has not been fixed, but some demonstration will probably occur before the winter class is dismissed. H. O. Philadelphia, February 6, 1877.
Designs For Wrought-Iron Work by the Manly & Cooper Manufacturing Co. The American Architect and Building News Feb, 13 1886
"These bits of ornamental iron-work, designed by different architects of Philadelphia, were submitted for execution to the Manly & Cooper Manufacturing Co., of that city, through whose agency in the matter the present contribution to our illustrations is made."
Here is an illustration of Philadelphia architect-designed wrought iron with two examples from Frank Furness and others from Willis G. Hale, Theophilus Parsons Chandler, John Ord, and David Evans. Furness is known to have worked with Manly & Cooper on his ‘Church of the Redeemer for Seamen & Their Families’ and given Furness’s frequent use of ornamental iron it can be assumed Manly & Cooper, later Belmont Iron Works, were involved in more of the architect’s projects.
Collingdale Station was designed in 1887 by Frank Furness as one of the “H” design stations for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. These architect-designed stations were used as both waymarking, making it easier to tell where on the trip you were by use of varied and architecturally interesting station houses, and to help compete against the Pennsylvania Railroad which had tried to shut the B&O out of the Philadelphia market. Similar “H” design stations could be found at Ridley, Boone, and Sixtieth Street along the Baltimore and Philadelphia Branch line.
Frank Furness’s 24th Street Station(here, here, here, and here) casts a large shadow over Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. c1891
This view, taken from an upper story office of the Baltimore & Ohio’s 24th Street Philadelphia Terminal, looks north along the Schuylkill River towards the Market Street and Pennsylvania Railroad bridges.