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Architectural History

The main building at 1726 Locust Street was the George W. Childs Drexel mansion. Certified by the Philadelphia Historical Commission and notable for its Romanesque and Renaissance architectural details, it was designed by the distinguished Boston firm of Peabody and Stearns and built in 1894.


The main building includes the Bok Room, named for the school's founder. Originally the Drexels' living room, then library, it housed the Curtis library until 1978, when it was restored. The Bok Room is now used for functions such as board meetings and receptions. Three murals by noted Philadelphia painter Edwin Blashfield adorn the ceiling. They were a gift from the Drexel family to the Curtis Institute of Music. Portraits of Curtis directors line the walls.

The Edward A. Sibley house at 235 South 18th Street adjoins the Drexel mansion and has been in use by Curtis since 1924. The faculty lounge/green room includes an overmantel mirror, plaster ceiling decorations, and an elaborately tiled floor by 19th-century architect Frank Furness.

Field Concert Hall was constructed in 1927 on the site of the Drexel mansion’s former garden and greenhouse. Designed by Horace Wells Sellers, the auditorium was first named Casimir Hall, then known as Curtis Hall. In 2001 it was renamed Field Concert Hall in honor of Joseph and Marie Field, who generously supported its renovation and provided an endowment to cover the hall’s operations.

The wrought-ironwork throughout the interior and exterior of all three buildings was designed by Philadelphia master craftsman Samuel Yellin. Mr. Yellin also designed the lectern and the pewter lamp in the Bok Room.

The Rock Resource Center at 1720 Locust Street was originally the Theodore H. Cramp house. Built in 1908, this Beaux-Arts mansion was designed by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer. Purchased by Mrs. Bok in 1924, this building was known as Knapp Hall after the founder’s mother, Louisa Knapp Curtis.

In 1988 Curtis bought another adjoining building, 1718 Locust Street. Designed in 1903 by the Philadelphia architectural firm Cope-Stewardson, it houses some of Curtis’s administrative offices, studios, and classrooms.

In 2011 the school doubled the size of the campus with Lenfest Hall. Located at 1616 Locust Street, the building is named in honor of Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, who provided substantial funding for its design and construction. Designed by renowned Philadelphia architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Lenfest Hall honors the streetscape of a venerable historic block, preserving two ornate nineteenth-century townhouse façades while providing a state-of-the-art educational setting to prepare exceptionally gifted young musicians for professional careers in the twenty-first century.

In 2012 Curtis purchased 1620 Locust Street, which adjoins Lenfest Hall to the west, and the building was renamed the Rubenstein Centre in honor of Mark and Robin Rubenstein, who provided significant funding for the building's purchase. The former brownstone mansion, built in 1850, was designed by John Notman, the Scottish architect who also designed the Athanaeum of Philadelphia. The Rubenstein Centre now houses the Advancement Department offices. 

 

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