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St. Gabriel's Hall (Fatlands Catholic Boys Protectory)
At a bend of the Schuylkill River is the landmark orange-red bell tower and low, redroofed mass of St. Gabriel's Hall that for more than a century has been operated by the Christian Brothers. Designed by Wilson Brothers, it reuses elements of their competition entry for the Williamson School won by Frank Furness ( DE27). Where Furness's grouping took its cues from the industrial culture in building materials and in its expression of the industrial hierarchy, Wilson Brothers overlaid a rigorously functional approach to structure with historical forms tinged with strong references to Italian suburban architecture then being rediscovered by the younger architects at the end of the century. Usually attuned to the industrial culture, here they may have been connecting to the roots of the Catholic Church and its corporate iconography.
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