(American, 20th Century)

The Irvin Building: The Fire Association of America, c. 1931

Watercolor on paper, 30 ¼ x 20 ½ inches

Inscribed at bottom center: “An Office Building/The Fire Association of America/Ernest J. Matthewson”

This work depicts the Irvin Building at 4th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, with proposed additions. The site is now part of Independence Mall: the building was demolished in 1974. The building was designed for the Fire Association of Philadelphia by Edgar Seeler and was completed in 1912, but by the 1920s the company had acquired the surrounding properties and hired Ernest J. Matthewson to design an expansion of the original building. Matthewson honored the original façade on the expansion up to about the sixth floor, with the higher floors in a muted Art Deco style.

There is little information about the architect Ernest J. Matthewson aside from him being listed as the architect for this building and the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company building at 6th and Walnut. Curiously, both were expansions upon an existing building designed by Seeler.

About the Artist

(American, 20th Century)

There is little information about the architect Ernest J. Matthewson aside from him being listed as the architect for two unrelated buildings on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Curiously, both were expansions upon an existing building designed by Edgar Seeler.