The North side of 915 Spring Garden from Brandywine Street.

The North side of 915 Spring Garden from Brandywine Street.

North Fire Escape at 915 Spring Garden Street, 2009, oil on linen Charles Newman

North Fire Escape at 915 Spring Garden Street, 2009, oil on linen
Charles Newman


In 1981 the 915 Studio Building, as the public has come to know it was inaugurated, with a group of painters, potters, and graphic designers making up the role as tenants. Over these 29 years the project has taken over the entire 5 floors and 75,000 square feet of well-lit space.

In 1909 the Reading Railroad completed construction of the 915 Spring Garden Street train station. During this prosperous era of heavy industrial construction, trains were the primary means of long distant travel, making 915 Spring Garden Street a focal point of commerce for Philadelphia. The 915 Spring Garden stop included a gigantic turn table for trains to switch tracks, it was at the epicenter of modern transportation here in Philadelphia.

And so it is today, only artists have replaced RR workers and the commerce is Fine Art not travel. Providing studios for over 100 artists of brilliant and varied disciplines, from potters, furniture makers and jewelers to painters, photographers and sculptors. Within this extraordinary roster of nationally and internationally known artists is a visual slice of Philadelphia which may only be seen within these studios. 915 residents have gathered up achievement awards from such organizations as the Leeway Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pew Fellowship on the Arts, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts .

The list of tenants past and present at 915 reads like an Artist's Whos Who in Philadelphia, Syd Carpenter, Bruce Metcalf, Phoebe Adams and Steve Donegan, Patrick Connors, Elizabeth Meyers, Charles Burns, William Smith, Cynthia Porter, Stanley Bielen, Teresa Jaynes, P. B. Ingersoll and Charles Burwell, and the list goes on. Their work appears not only in the Philadelphia Museum of Art but also in Museums and collections across the US. From public Murals to the current gallery scene the artists at 915 are always working towards something for public view.

Because it was the first studio building opening its doors to the public, 915 has served as a successful model for the rest of the community, with the Pew Charitable Trust, Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers For the Arts, and Philadelphia Historical Preservation Corporation as beneficiaries of the experience gained here.

Once a year for the past 29 years the artists of 915 have opened their studios to the public in what has become the largest and oldest open studio event in Philadelphia history. This event has launched many careers, and for others it has provided a chance to showcase experimental artwork not previously seen in any gallery.

The Open Studios event provides the Philadelphia community with the opportunity to meet its artists, see their working environs, and inspire dialogue important in the appreciation of fine art.

As told by 915 Lofts Manager Steve Donegan.