Did you know that Ross Commons is 126 years old this year? The building, which has graced the southeast corner of 34th Street and Powelton Avenue with its presence since 1888, was originally built as a house for Max Riebenack, a Bavarian immigrant who became established in Philadelphia as a Pennsylvania Railroad tycoon. The architect, Thomas Preston Lonsdale, designed the house in a style inspired by Victorian and medieval aesthetics with turrets, bay windows and a wraparound porch, which has since been enclosed and now serves as a sunny dining area for Sabrina’s.
In 1928, the Drexel Institute of Technology purchased the building, which served as a place for female Domestic Science and Arts majors to live and learn to care for children and tend a home. Just shy of thirty years later, the building was named the Grace Godfrey Home Management House in honor of Grace Godfrey, who served as the Director of the Home Economics program.
In 2001, following a decade of closure, Drexel received a generous donation from George and Lyn Ross. Two years later, after undergoing extensive renovations, Ross Commons (named in honor of its benefactors) opened as a student center. Today, Ross Commons is also the home of Drexel Business Services, Spencer Burger, and Sabrina’s Café, a Philadelphia brunch favorite.
Take a look at the photos of Ross Commons below!
Source: Drexel University Archives Digital Collections http://archives.library.drexel.edu/displays/items/show/278
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