Former Buildings

  • Benjamin Tanner after J.J. Barralet, <em>The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts </em>[first building], 1809, engraving and etching on gray wove paper,&nbsp; 4 5/8 x 6 1/2 in., Gift of Mrs. Edgar P. Richardson, 1986.29.2
    Benjamin Tanner after J.J. Barralet, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts [first building], 1809, engraving and etching on gray wove paper,  4 5/8 x 6 1/2 in., Gift of Mrs. Edgar P. Richardson, 1986.29.2
  • John Sartain after J. Hamilton, <em>Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts-second building, rebuilt 1845-47</em>, ca.1850, etching, engraving and aquatint on paper, 4 x 8 7/8 in., Bequest of Dr. Paul J. Sartain, 1948.23.40
    John Sartain after J. Hamilton, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts-second building, rebuilt 1845-47, ca.1850, etching, engraving and aquatint on paper, 4 x 8 7/8 in., Bequest of Dr. Paul J. Sartain, 1948.23.40
  • PAFA, 1870
    PAFA, 1870

PAFA’s first two buildings, both white marble structures in the neo-classical style, stood on Chestnut Street between Tenth and Eleventh Streets.

1805-45:

The first building opened to the public in the spring of 1806. Designed by John Dorsey, an amateur architect and a member of PAFA’s board, the building had a domed rotunda about fifty feet in diameter. Over the doorway was a wooden American eagle almost certainly carved by William Rush. This structure was enlarged in 1810 with a north gallery for expanded exhibition space. By 1823 a library and a statue gallery had been added. This structure was almost completely destroyed in a fire in 1845.

1847-70:

In 1847, after a fundraising effort, a new building opened, constructed on the surviving foundations of the 1806 edifice. Engineer-architect Richard Gilpin designed a larger, but still classically inspired, structure. PAFA’s second home was illuminated by skylights and surrounded by a shaded lawn. By 1870, both the museum and the school had outgrown these quarters, and planning began for the construction of a larger building in a different location.