Preservation Magazine, Spring 2019

A Century-Old Philadelphia Bank Becomes a Tech Hub

Philadelphia's 1907 Corn Exchange Bank is now home to cloud hosting company Linode.

photo by: Halkin Mason Photography

The Neoclassical bank now fits in with its "nerdy" neighborhood.

Philadelphia’s Neoclassical Corn Exchange National Bank & Trust Co., built in 1907, long stood out among the “nerdy” businesses in the N3rd Street tech corridor. But after a $9.3 million restoration and renovation partially funded by federal historic tax credits, it fits right in as cloud hosting company Linode’s headquarters.

First built as a bank, the structure has a history of adaptive reuse: Notably, it served as the house for the 2004 season of MTV’s The Real World. It’s also been an art gallery and offices for the Seamen’s Church Institute. One challenge for Ballinger, the architecture and engineering firm that handled the project, was how to strip away decades of paint and contemporary materials covering the building’s original finishes. The company tapped Philadelphia-based Materials Conservation Collaborative to restore fine details to their 1907 glory.

Many of the bank’s historic features were perfect for the fast-moving tech company: The unenclosed staircase and empty space around it helped create an open office with collaborative, flexible space. For employees who prefer closed-off areas for getting things done, the cavernous basement now holds focus rooms.

“I love the idea of the building having a new life with a completely different group of people … who work so differently than what the building was originally built for,” says Fon Wang, Ballinger’s director of historic preservation.

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Emma Sarappo is a former Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She can be found writing or in the kitchen of her century-old DC rowhouse.

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