Peirce College Moving from One Historical Building into Another in Rittenhouse

Philadelphia is no stranger to higher education, boasting one of the densest concentrations of colleges and universities in the entire country. Peirce College is one such institution, specializing in education tailored to adults entering or already in the workforce. Originally founded in 1865, the college has been located at 1420 Pine St. since they purchased the property back in 1915. However, after well over 100 years in their current Rittenhouse location, they look to be on the move again, as a recent announcement indicated a shift to a different Rittenhouse-area building. Let’s mosey our way along some of the prettiest streets in the city to check out their current home.

View of 1420 Pine St. looking rather regal
A closer view of the Pine St. facade
View from Pine & Waverly shows off the size of the building
View of the back of the building, looking NW from Carlisle & Waverly
View of the garages along Waverly

As a result of the pandemic, Peirce’s classroom and office needs changed, especially given the increase in remote work over the last couple of years. This shift in strategy led them to look for more flexible space, which their current spot couldn’t accommodate. The announcement indicated they will be moving to the 19th floor of 1608 Walnut St., the gorgeous Art Deco tower that was originally the home to the Sun Oil Company upon the completion in 1928 of the Tilden, Register & Pepper design. This building is on both the national and local historic registers, so kudos to Peirce for picking architecturally gorgeous buildings for their new home. Let’s scurry a few blocks northwest of Peirce’s current location to check out their new headquarters.

1608 Walnut St. in all its glory
A closer look at the Art Deco details of the main entrance
A better look at the street level (Go Birds)

With the move, this leaves the property at 1420 Pine without much use to Peirce. Notes indicate they are looking into the different options for the building, which we would imagine could be appealing to another institutional tenant. It’s also possible that Peirce or a future owner could decide to redevelop the garage portion of the lot, as that land is certainly not best served as parking for just a handful of cars. Could we perhaps see the entire property sold and adapted for some sort of office or residential use? Could the close-by University of the Arts jump in and scoop up the property to use as dorms? All of these options are on the table, though we are happy to report that this building is also historically protected, so we’d expect it to retain its current character, at least on the exterior.

It never ceases to tickle our imagination when these grand, old buildings shift to a new purpose. There are thousands upon thousands of structures in the city that have made major changes from their original use, providing architectural and historical interest that is lacking from many other cities around the country. As a new owner or tenant writes the next chapter at 1420 Pine St., you know we’ll be keeping tabs on exactly what’s in store.