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Atwater Kent Museum (Franklin Institute)

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Franklin Institute
1824, John Haviland. 15 S. 7th St.
  • Atwater Kent Museum (Franklin Institute) (Richard W. Longstreth)

Haviland based his design for the building's facade on the ancient Greek choragic monument of Thrassylus as published by Stuart and Revett in their Antiquities of Athens (1762). Against the field of simple red brick fronts of old Philadelphia, its Pennsylvania blue marble walls and planar design had a strong presence that announced its purpose as one of the nation's first institutions for the dissemination of technology. Here, courses were taught in engineering and architecture; symposia were sponsored and exhibitions organized that propelled Philadelphia to the forefront of the industrial age. Into the twentieth century, the institute was the principal means by which Philadelphia maintained industrial supremacy in the nation. When the institute moved to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the building was acquired by radio manufacturer Atwater Kent, who offered it as the museum of the city of Philadelphia. Though cramped for space, the extensive collections tell a summarized and bowdlerized story of the city. The interior has largely disappeared, but the original front rooms give a sense of the original proportions while the large rear room that housed the U.S. Supreme Court when it traveled around the country can still be deduced.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Atwater Kent Museum (Franklin Institute)", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 76-76.

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