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Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company Offices

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1882, Addison Hutton. Broadway and Susquehanna St.

The juxtaposition of private capital and government evidenced in the placement of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company offices opposite the courthouse is not unlike the placement of the offices of the Pennsylvania Railroad (demolished) opposite City Hall in Philadelphia. The building was begun by the canal's rival, the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which presumably was the source of the innovative fireproof construction of iron columns, steel beams, and structural tile flooring. This is a simple rectangular block that reflects its fireproof framing while the exterior shows the unity of hues of Queen Anne, here brilliant red brick and terra-cotta. The surfaces are enlivened by beautifully sculpted and cast panels of leaves that recall Owen Jones's Grammar of Ornament (1856), but with a more fully naturalistic plasticity that marks the shift toward the more Baroque sensibilities of the end of the century. Ironically, it was constructed as the railroads were completing their triumph over water-borne transportation. The building has been adapted as apartments.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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