Mellon Independence Center - Lit Brothers

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Renovation Architect: Stantec Architecture, Inc.

In 1893, during the heyday of the large Philadelphia department stores, Lit Brothers, "A Great Store in A Great City", positioned itself as the more affordable alternative. Their flagship location at 701 Market Street, a landmark Market East architectural structure, became wildly successful in the decades that followed and continued to flourish up until the 1970's. As the retail landscape began to shift away from the large department store model, Lit Brothers' patronage dwindled, and the chain closed for good in 1977.

After their closure, Lit Brothers' 1,000,000 SF flagship Market Street location became abandoned, and remained vacant for seven years. Severe water intrusion and decay in the steel members took its toll on the once celebrated structure. The building's facade had deteriorated greatly and was in need of a major restoration and there were even plans to demolish the building. Recognizing Lit Brothers' great potential, Mellon Bank decided to rescue and redevelop the building as their regional headquarters, which is now known as Mellon Independence Center.

O'Donnell & Naccarato provided structural engineering and facade restoration services for the redevelopment project, which posed many unique challenges due to the age, construction type, and level of deterioration of the 19th-century building. At times, the vulnerable timber construction was exposed to "hot work", or open flame, and a 4-man crew that included an off-duty fireman was employed. Several traditional methods of construction were recalled in order to preserve the historic details of the building. Left over panels from recent work at Independence Hall were utilized in one of the rooms. The restoration and adaptive reuse project was completed in 1987 and won a National Award for Historic Preservation.

In 2014 O'Donnell & Naccarato helped Brisckstone, the building’s current owner and a longtime client, light up Market Street with the addition of a digital roof-top display.