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In 1925 George Wharton Pepper, Jr. joined the partnership formerly known as Tilden & Register. He brought with him the influence of his father, a former senator and law counsel for several major corporations, including Sun Oil Co. Whereas Tilden & Register had performed within a general practice, with a liberal sprinkling of residences and hospitals, young Pepper brought with him the Sun Oil Co. account; and soon the firm was erecting speculative skyscrapers in the 1600 block of Walnut Street. In the 1930s, under pressure from former Sen. Pepper, Rankin & Kellogg agreed to associate with Tilden, Register & Pepper on the U. S. Post Office Building at 30th and Market streets (dedicated 1935).

Before the entry of Tilden, Register & Pepper into Philadelphia's skyscraper market, Ritter & Shay had been unrivalled for those commissions; however, under the influence of young Pepper, the office stepped into the skyscraper arena, working in a moderne style that was not accessible (or acceptable) to every firm in Philadelphia. Furthermore, judging by the selection of an illustration for their Walnut Street skyscraper, they were aware of modern European trends as well. When they published a photograph of 1608 Walnut Street in the Architectural Record of March, 1930, the firm chose to submit a view of the back of the building (Ranstead Street), not the Walnut Street facade. Were they emulating Erich Mendelsohn's 1926 Amerika with its views of the backs of otherwise decorative buildings? It is impossible to answer this question today, but it is likely that Philadelphia architects before George Howe were aware of Europe's decidedly different approach to architectural modernism.

In 1936 H. Bartol Register withdrew from the firm, but Tilden & Pepper continued.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

 

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