Last week, we got a chance to check out what was once the Edward Bok Vocational School in south Philadelphia. It was shuttered in a round of public school closures and the building was auctioned off to a private development company. The company, Scout, has a unique vision for the space that stays true to its roots as a former trade school.
With a long history since its construction in the 1930s, the building is a mash-up of time periods, where old-fashioned glamour meets kitschy ’70s design. Working ovens stand in what were once culinary classrooms, plumbing hook-ups remain where the beauty school classroom sinks were lined up. School materials and assignment sheets from the 1960s sit in stacks in the old administrative office. Rather than gut the building and turn it into high-end offices and apartments, Scout wants to bring in independent makers, innovators, and small businesses to utilize the industrial resources already present in the building. With 340,000 square feet, clear roof views of Center City, and a variety of rooms that could house everything from fabric-dyeing to wood-working, the building has infinite potential as a makers’ space.
We’re excited to see what Bok grows into, but there was something special about seeing it as it was. Raw and virtually untouched, the building is a hauntingly beautiful testament to a time that has been lost. Click through the gallery below to check it out.