Foremost Building

History of the Foremost Building

 From The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia, 1881-1930 - A Guide


“The immigrants shopped at the South 4th Street fish market, especially on Jewish holidays, traveling from all sections of the city to buy carp and other freshwater fish to make gefilte fish for Rosh Hoshana and other holidays. 


Washington Hall, 521-525 S. 4th Street, a six-story structure which opened in 1896, was one of the largest buildings in the area during the immigrant period. Its hall was open for rental to radicals and socialists. From 1907 until 1917, it was called New Academy Hall and from 1917 until 1919 it was known as Majestic Hall. At the time, there was great competition in the newspaper market between New York Yiddish papers and their small Philadelphia counterparts. Washington Hall became the center of the strife between these two groups with the New York Daily News & Gazette having offices in the building. 


When the building was being renovated in the spring of 1907, the new owner Jacob Rosenfield, 335 Gaskill Street, invited anyone to use the hall for a wedding “free of charge.” During this renovation, the main stairway was changed and the floor raised. Rosenfield also advertised the hall as “the best for balls and entertainment.” Activities in the summer of 1907 included a meeting of retail butchers during a kosher butcher strike and the third annual convention of the Sons of Jacob, with 114 out of town delegates. 


Push carts lined S. 4th Street from Lombard to Carpenter, probably as early as the 1890’s. By 1912, fruits, vegetables, shouting and oaths created a lively outdoor hub-bub. In the 1920’s, wallpaper was made and sold here. By the 1930’s, a large furniture store occupied the lower level of 521 and 527 S. 4th Street. The upper floors were used only for storage and light assembly. 


In 1945 the Forman family purchased the property and other contiguous properties, creating the Foremost Meat Factory. From then, until its closing in 1977, kosher meats were sold. In 1979-1980, the property was subdivided into seven to twelve properties. Mr. Peter DeFeo reassembled three of the properties in 1982 into what is known as The Foremost by year 2000. In 1978, a complete gut-out and renovation took place with the office space available in the upper four floors and retail spaces in the ground and lower floors. In 2005, the office/retail complex was successful as an arts building. Many creations, plays, books, films, and starts have flowed through the halls of this magnificent white brick, white marble, and brass structure. 


(*History before 2014 provided by previous ownership)


In 2014, Foremost 525 LP acquired the Foremost Building with the vision establishing the lower level and ground floor as retail and 2nd through 5th floor office spaces.  Today, the building has evolved into a great collaboration of Therapy, Beauty, Designers, Artists, Architects, Real Estate, Lawyers, Entertainment, Retail and Services.   


The Foremost Building offers space to accommodate any size business, small, medium and large users. Offices are located on the 2nd thru 5th floors, serviced by an elevator. Whether you are looking for a new office, just starting out, or moving from your home office, this is the building for you! 

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