George S. Kingsley, Architect

George S. Kingsley, Architect

Posted: Jun 05 | Author: | Filed under: News & Updates | Tagged: , ,

Because we would like to develop a work for the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia someday, we’ve become very interested in the building that houses it and the architect of said building:

Here’s the Google Street View of the building at 4017 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA.

Googling “George Kingsley Architect” brings up a few buildings in Chicago and Philadelphia but scant biographical information.  According to a New York Times obituary, he died in 1956:

Hendersonville, N.C., March 19—George S. Kingsley, formerly an architect in New York and Chicago, died here on Saturday.  He had lived here recently.  His age was 86.  ¶  Mr. Kingsey had designed warehouses throughout the East and Midwest and belonged to the American Institute of Archictects.  ¶  Published: March 20, 1956

Kingsley’s most famous building, the Reebie Storage Warehouse, warrants a Wikipedia page, but the architect does not.  Not yet.  Here’s the Google Street View of the Rebbie Storage Warehouse.  And a detailed description of the facade and an analysis of its Egyptian revival motifs by Caroline Nye of Blueprint: Chicago.

Though the Slought building on Walnut looks and feels like a bank, it was actually a storage facility.  Building America’s first university: an historical and architectural guide to the University of Pennsylvania by George E. Thomas and David Bruce Brownlee tells us the following:

4015 Walnut Street (originally Atlas Storage).  1926: George Kingsley.  ¶  The former storage warehouse is an exuberant exercise in polychromatic terracotta classicism by New York architects whose specialty was secure storage for shorebound summer vacationers.  Here in its windowless recesses the student editors of the Daily Pennsylvanian toil in subterranean-like offices, producing the city’s fourth largest daily paper.

Thomas and Brownlee too quickly pass over some interesting tidbits: “polychromatic terra cotta”?  Is there photographic or other evidence for this?  The facade is now entirely beige, whereas Rebbie still sports the color, likely painted and painted again over the years.  “Secure storage for shorebound summer vacationers”?  What is the history of personal storage as a business in America?  Does the art-deco classicism here and the Egyptian revival motifs of the Rebbie mean to connote the “security” of the tomb rather than the virtues of the Enlightenment?

Other Kingsley sightings:

1. This from the Forgotten New York site, Tour 32.

The Allied Storage Building was designed by the architect George S. Kingsley and built on [636] Pacific Street in 1926; it features blue and white ceramic medallions and other ornamentation. It was converted to residences a few years ago and renamed the Atlantic Arts Building.

Here’s the Google Street View of his building at 636 Pacific Street in Brooklyn.  And a link to an New York Times article from 2005.

2. And one more in Philadelphia, currently AC McDaniel Storage but formerly Wallace Storage and Carpet, found via  Here’s the Google Street View of this building at 237 Church Ln.

3. And in the Chicago area there is a hotel, now demolished, another storage facility, and a few private residences.  Here’s documentation of his 1912 Plymouth Hotel, 4700-4714 N. Broadway, Chicago IL.

We found the houses and one storage facility in a United States Department of Interior pdf: National Registry of Historical Places / Inventory—Nomination Form for the Buena Vista Historic District of Chicago.

The buildings:

4. A 1910 Storage facility at 4015 Broadway, Chicago IL

5. A 1914 2-Story Residence at 649 Hutchinson, Chicago IL

6. A 1911 2-Story Residence and Coach house at 735 Hutchinson, Chicago IL

7. And finally—though we’ll keep looking—here’s a storage facility on Riverside Drive in New York, one that looks remarkably like the Walnut street home of Slought.  A New York Times FYI article by Daniel Schnieder includes this description:

The beautifully detailed, classically inspired building, erected in 1929, was designed as a furniture warehouse and has remained just that. Suffice it to say, they don’t build them the way they used to.  ¶  The warehouse was originally built and owned by the Lee Brothers, whose name is still visible beneath layers of paint on the Riverside Drive facade. It was designed by George S. Kingsley, the architect who designed several other historically inspired storage warehouses in Manhattan and in the Midwest, according to Christopher Gray, the architectural historian.  ¶  Viewed from without, the Lee Brothers warehouse is so splendid that for years it has been rumored that it was built for the Astor family, said Neal W. Eisenstein, a vice-president for Manhattan Mini Storage, which has owned the building since 1984.  ¶  The columns and pilasters mask a cavernous interior, containing over 1,000 storage rooms and vaults, built of thick concrete and steel and dispersed over 14 floors. Roughly half the floors are built below street level, far below the viaduct, and the current entrance and loading bay are tucked into the West 134th Street side of the building.  —NYT, 10.11.98


9 Comments on "George S. Kingsley, Architect"
  1. deep and superficial storage : Finley + Muse on Tue, 13th Jul 2010 10:47 am
  2. […] last week, and yesterday we took the gear to our Vallejo storage unit.  Thinking about storage, George S. Kingsley’s Atlas Storage, the ubiquity of “stuff,” and the obsolescence and allure of artworks that depend on […]

    […] But when it was built in 1927, the art deco-style building was designed by famed architect George Kingsley to have store fronts on the bottom floor with office and storage space […]

    […] An article posted to Michigan Live, “New Trillium Haven restaurant in Eastown’s Kingsley Building will redefine farm-to-table for Jenison couple,” links the name “George Kingsley” to a blog post here. […]

  3. Debbie on Wed, 21st Nov 2012 9:09 am
  4. 5951 W. Madison St. in Chicago. Amazing mosaic tile around the entrance. Designed by Kingsley in the 1920s.

  5. Debbie on Wed, 21st Nov 2012 9:12 am
  6. Here’s a link to a picture of the W. Madison entrance:

  7. John Muse on Wed, 19th Dec 2012 4:36 pm
  8. Thanks for the comment and the pict, Debbie.

  9. Catherine Cramer on Fri, 24th Jan 2014 6:27 pm
  10. I’m an architectural historian in Tucson, AZ and was working on some bios of architects of Chicago. Here is a small bio I found on Mr. Kingsley:

    He was born in Cleveland OH on October 18, 1869. He attended Cleveland High School, but no college education was listed. He organized his own office in 1894. He was married in 1897 and was the father of two children. He was registered in the states of Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, and New York. Projects include: Grand Rapids Warehouse, 1925; Hebard Storage Co., Chicago, 1925; Lincoln Warehouse, Philadelphia, 1927; Atlas Storage Warehouse, Philadelphia, 1927; Lee Brothers Warehouse, NYC, 1929. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects in Detroit. He retired in 1950.

    Information came from the 1956 AIA Directory.

    Thanks for the great information and I hope this helps fill in a few small blanks. The AIA directory has been a great source for me in my research.

  11. John Muse on Sat, 25th Jan 2014 4:02 pm
  12. Thanks, Catherine. Very helpful. We’re still very interested in Kingsley, and even more so in the history of storage. We don’t quite have an idea for a work or a doc about it, not yet anyway. The Kingsley buildings, starting with the Atlas Storage Warehouse in Philly, have been nice starting points. Cheers!

  13. Anne B Voshel on Mon, 13th Jan 2020 4:49 pm
  14. I’m working on a storage building in Chicago by Kingsley and am trying to locate the engineering drawings. Have you found out what structural engineers he worked with?