The Wanamaker Building, completed in 1911, was the architectural and engineering marvel of its era. The property was fully restored in 1991 to meet the changing needs of today’s retail and office users.
Amerimar converted 219,000 square feet of space on the fourth and fifth floors from retail into office space and leased it to a mix of public and private sector tenants. The property team implemented changes that improved the comfort, appearance and efficiency of the property. The property is again being recognized as premier address for large office tenants in the Philadelphia CBD, and at nearly 99% percent leased, boasts a list of tenants that have chosen to expand within the building under Amerimar’s management.
- Wanamaker’s was the first department store in Philadelphia and one of the first in the country.
- The building sits on the site of an abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad station.
- The historic building was built between 1904-1911, replacing the famous “Grand Depot” in several stages.
- The new store, lavishly built in the Florentine style with granite walls by Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham, had 12 floors (9 for retail), numerous galleries and two lower levels totaling nearly two-million square feet.
- The palatial emporium featured the former St. Louis World’s Fair pipe organ, at the time one of the world’s largest organs. The organ was installed in the store’s marble-clad central atrium known as the Grand Court. (see Organ notes below)
- Another item from the St. Louis Fair in the Grand Court is the large bronze eagle, which quickly became the symbol of the store and a favorite meeting place for shoppers.
- Dedicated by President William Taft (there is a footstone in Macy’s with the dedication information). on December 30, 1911.
- The Wanamaker’s flagship store, with its famous organ and eagle from the St. Louis World’s Fair, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978
- In 1992 a nonprofit group, the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, was founded to promote the preservation, restoration and presentation of the famous pipe organ.
- Macy’s, with a long tradition of parades and fireworks displays, has taken a prominent civic role in fostering historic Wanamaker traditions, especially the Wanamaker Organ , Holiday Pageant of Lights Christmas Show and The Dickens Village.
- Floors 6 – 12 were converted to office space in 1989-1990. Floors 4 and 5 were converted in 1997. Macy’s currently occupies floors 1-3.
The Wanamaker Organ:
- The largest playable organ in the world.
- Brought from the St. Louis World’s Fair on 13 train cars in August 1909.
- Dedicated June 22, 1911.
- The organ has been played daily since 1910, twice a day.
- September 2008 with the cooperation of Amerimar Enterprises, Behringer Harvard & Macy’s for the 1st time in 50 years, the organ is 100% playable.
The Wanamaker Eagle:
- The eagle was the centerpiece of the German display at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
- It was stored along with the organ and while preparing to transport the organ it was decided that the eagle would add a decorative touch to Grand Court of the department store. Therefore it was purchased and transported along with the organ.