PHILADELPHIA -- The Rotunda has been added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places by the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Collette Kinane, a graduate student in historical preservation, prepared the submission as part of PennDesign's 2011 Preservation Studio.
Built in 1911 for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the Rotunda was designed by New York-based Carrere and Hastings as classical in style, featuring a low, tile-roofed narthex, a circular main hall, also known as the sanctuary, and oversized windows.
The building, at 4014 Walnut St., is now owned by the University of Pennsylvania as part of its Facilities and Real Estate Services arts portfolio and offers cultural programming for the community. More than 300 events are held each year, including live music, film, spoken word, theater, art, dance, education, youth programs, arts incubation and experimental genres.
Penn purchased the building in 1996 and, when considering its re-use, opted for an arts venue. The Foundation Community Arts Initiative was created to facilitate that decision, and the first event, a public jazz concert, was held in 1999. Over the years, programming of the space has increased significantly, so much so that The Rotunda was recently nominated for Best Indie Music Venue in Philadelphia Magazine's “Best of Philly 2012.”
The University continues to look at ways to enhance the use of the property and to evaluate options for this historically designated facility.