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Family Court Building
Family Court Building Philadelphia.jpg
Family Court Building in Logan Circle
Location 1801 Vine St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
Built November 25, 1940
Architect John T. Windrim
W. R. Morton Keast
NRHP reference No. 14000097
Added to NRHP March 31, 2014

The Philadelphia Family Court Building also known as Juvenile and Domestic Branches of the Municipal Court, is a historic building registered under National Park Service's, National Register of Historic Places. The building was constructed between 1938 and 1941. It was occupied on November 25, 1940 by the Juvenile and Domestic Branches of the Municipal Court later known as the Philadelphia Family Court. In 2014, the Philadelphia Family Court moved to a new location on Arch Street. As of 2017, the Family Court Building remains unoccupied. In 2020, the City of Philadelphia rescinded a contract with The Peebles Corporation to renovate the building after years of delay.

History

The building's design follows Beaux-Arts architecture. Its design, that of the adjacent Parkway Central Library, and their placement on Logan Circle closely follow that of the Hôtel de Crillon and the Hôtel de la Marine on Paris's Place de la Concorde. The building was designed by John T. Windrim and constructed by his chief designer W. R. Morton Keast (William Richard Morton Keast).

Construction began on September 17, 1938 and the cornerstone was laid on June 20, 1939. The building opened on 1801 Vine Street. According to National Park Service, the building was completed in 1941, however, William Richard Morton Keast states the building was completed and occupied by November 25, 1940.

In 1971, Family Court Building was accepted into the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. On March 31, 2014, the Family Court Building was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.

Description

The building housed the Philadelphia Family Court from 1941 to 2014. Three stories and the ground level were opened to the public. The building was used as a juvenile court as well as a court for domestic issues.

The building is known for its murals and has been described by Ben Leech, director of advocacy at the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, as "a virtual museum of New Deal art".

Plans had been made by the city to move the Philadelphia Family Court closer to Market Street. In 2014, the Peebles Corporation made a bid to turn the courthouse into a museum and boutique hotel. The Philadelphia Family Court moved to a new location at 1501 Arch Street, leaving the Family Court Building unoccupied.

In November, 2020, The Peebles Corporation's contract to purchase 1801 Vine Street was cancelled by the City of Philadelphia. The City cited Peebles's delay and inability to secure financing, as well as larger economic trends, as reasons for cancelling Peebles's development bid. Peebles Corporation CEO, Roy Donahue Peebles, said in a statement that the company was “surprised and disappointed by the action taken by PIDC and the City of Philadelphia today to terminate our efforts to build Philadelphia’s first Black-owned hotel. We are puzzled by the motives underlining the rush to terminate now when there are no viable, alternative uses for the structure,” Peebles said. “We are not aware of any major city of Philadelphia contract that has been terminated during this health crisis, begging the question: Why us?” At the time Peebles bid was cancelled, the project had taken over 7 years without any construction, financing, or tenants put in place.

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