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Photo, Print, Drawing U.S. Naval Asylum, Biddle Hall, Gray's Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA

[ Photos from Survey HABS PA-1622-A  ]

More Resources

[ Drawings from Survey HABS PA-1622-A  ]
[ Data Pages from Survey HABS PA-1622-A  ]
[ Photo Captions from Survey HABS PA-1622-A  ]

About this Item

Title

  • U.S. Naval Asylum, Biddle Hall, Gray's Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA

Names

  • Historic American Buildings Survey, creator
  • Strickland, William
  • Mason, Anne, transmitter
  • Campbell, Joseph C., delineator
  • Stange, Richard C., delineator
  • Antonucci, Albert A., delineator
  • Tice, Tim, delineator
  • Tice, Amy, delineator
  • Gredell, Gary, delineator
  • Zeigler-Cihlar, Jessica L., delineator
  • Falstad, Michael, delineator
  • Marsh, Lauren, delineator
  • Bassett, William B., historian
  • McCown, Susan, editor
  • Boucher, Jack E., photographer
  • Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), sponsor
  • Jacobs, James A., transmitter
  • Tulloch, Margaret, historian
  • Tanner, Lewis, photographer

Created / Published

  • Documentation compiled after 1933

Headings

  • -  asylums
  • -  aged persons
  • -  military medicine
  • -  health care
  • -  vandalism
  • -  building failures
  • -  building deterioration
  • -  fires
  • -  porticoes (porches)
  • -  wrought-iron hand railings
  • -  wrought ironwork
  • -  Ionic order
  • -  pendentives
  • -  domes
  • -  Greek Revival architectural elements
  • -  fire-resistive construction
  • -  granite
  • -  brick vaults (architecture)
  • -  3 1/2 stories
  • -  graffiti
  • -  dormers
  • -  galleries (rooms & spaces)
  • -  brick walls
  • -  marble
  • -  stone walls
  • -  gates
  • -  round arches
  • -  square columns
  • -  pipes (conduits)
  • -  transoms
  • -  louvers
  • -  barrel vaults
  • -  Pennsylvania--Philadelphia County--Philadelphia

Notes

  • -  Significance: Designed by William Strickland (1788-1854), one of the first American-born and trained architects, Biddle Hall, the Surgeon General's Residence, and the Governor's Residence represent the largest extant ensemble of buildings by the architect. Biddle Hall, the central building of the U. S. Naval Asylum complex, moreover, is one of the most important surviving examples of early-nineteenth -century Greek Revival architecture in America. Strickland was one of the first architects to design, specifically, in the Greek idiom as opposed to a more interpretive neoclassicism favored by other architects, such as his mentor Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764 1820). For Biddle Hall, he drew direct inspiration from depictions of the Ionic temple on the Ilissus River in James Stuart and Nicholas Revett's Antiquities of Athens (1762), the definitive sourcebook in this country for architecture derived from Greek examples. While Strickland obviously looked to the past for expressive inspiration, as an architect he also realized the necessity of designing for the present and the future, and, accordingly, embraced the most up-to-date construction techniques to create a properly ventilated, adequately lit, and fire-resistant retirement and health care facility. Skylights and long verandahs were key elements in the design, one of the earliest masonry-vaulted, fireproof structures in the United States, and also one of the first to be constructed using architectural cast-iron columns. Biddle Hall is not only an aesthetically remarkable and well-proportioned classical edifice, but also a highly functional utilitarian structure embodying the latest healthcare design theories. Beyond its clear architectural worth, the Naval Asylum also possesses great significance vis-a-vis various aspects of American history. It was the first institution established by the federal government for the care of "disabled and decrepit navy officers, seamen, and marines" of all ranks, making it the first federal veterans' retirement facility in America. Biddle Hall was also home to the first formal U. S. naval academy from 1839 to 1845. Additionally from 1833 to 1868 before a separate hospital building was erected on the site, the structure housed the U. S. Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, one of the earliest regional naval hospitals in the country. The significance of the U. S. Naval Asylum is manifested in its listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places (1956), the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places (1972), and the National Register of Historic Places (1972). The site was later classified a National Historic Landmark (1975), and in 1997 was designated the "Landmark Building of the Year" by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • -  Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1585
  • -  Survey number: HABS PA-1622-A
  • -  Building/structure dates: 1826-1833 Initial Construction
  • -  National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 72001173

Medium

  • Photo(s): 137
  • Color Transparencies: 1
  • Measured Drawing(s): 30
  • Data Page(s): 83
  • Photo Caption Page(s): 16

Call Number/Physical Location

  • HABS PA,51-PHILA,577A-

Source Collection

  • Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

Repository

Control Number

  • pa0668

Rights Advisory

Online Format

  • image
  • pdf

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator, William Strickland, Joseph C Campbell, Richard C Stange, Albert A Antonucci, Tim Tice, Amy Tice, et al., Boucher, Jack E, and Lewis Tanner, photographer. U.S. Naval Asylum, Biddle Hall, Gray's Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. Pennsylvania Philadelphia County Philadelphia, 1933. editeds by Mccown, Susanitor, translateds by Mason, Annemitter, and Jacobs, James A.Mitter Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/pa0668/.

APA citation style:

Historic American Buildings Survey, C., Strickland, W., Campbell, J. C., Stange, R. C., Antonucci, A. A., Tice, T. [...] Tulloch, M., Boucher, J. E. & Tanner, L., photographer, McCown, S., ed. (1933) U.S. Naval Asylum, Biddle Hall, Gray's Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. Pennsylvania Philadelphia County Philadelphia, 1933. Mason, A. & Jacobs, J. A. M., transs Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/pa0668/.

MLA citation style:

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator, et al., photographers by Boucher, Jack E, and Lewis Tanner. U.S. Naval Asylum, Biddle Hall, Gray's Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. ed by Mccown, Susanitor, trans by Mason, Annemitter, and Jacobs, James A.Mitter Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/pa0668/>.