New Companies Moving Into Lits Building In Philadelphia

From its humble beginnings in 1891 as a women’s clothing store, the historic Lits Building (also known as the Lits Brothers Building) has a long and unique backstory. Located on Market Street between 7th and 8th Streets in downtown Philadelphia, this building has long been referred to as “the cast-iron building”. While two of the building’s facades are indeed made of cast iron, the rest of the building is comprised of a mix of brick, marble, granite, and terra cotta crafted to look like cast-iron. This building, built in the Renaissance-revival style, became a permanent fixture in the city center and is now home to many business offices and high-end retailers. To better understand why the Lits Building has been a success over the years, here are five things to know about its history in Philadelphia.

1. Sisterly Beginnings

While Samuel and Jacob Lit played a huge role in developing the Lits Building in its early years, it was their sister Rachel who first opened up the brick and mortar shop. Rachel wanted a clothing store that would trim hats and hem items that were purchased in the shop. While her brothers stepped in to help the business grow, it was Rachel who started the family legacy.

2. A Great Slogan

Samuel and Jacob helped the Lits Building succeed by creating innovative marketing techniques that would blow their competition away. Their slogan, “A Great Store In A Great City,” was Philadelphia’s most popular business trademark and brought in customers from all around the state. In 12-years time, Rachel’s modest clothing shop expanded and became the city’s largest retail store.

3. Thinking Big

While the Lit Building began with Rachel’s small store, Samuel and Jacob had bigger ideas for the company. By purchasing and taking over all of the remaining buildings on the block, the brothers began their clothing empire one storefront at a time. At the end of 1918, the brothers owned a total of 33-buildings and became the only store in Philadelphia that measured one full city block.

4. New Ownership

The Lit Brothers held onto their store until the late 1920’s, when they were finally purchased by Albert Greenfield’s Bankers Securities Corporation. Greenfield eventually merged the purchase of the Lits Building into his own company but kept the original name to continue the popularity and sales of the business. The Lit Building continued to thrive under the new ownership, and even participated in a city-wide Christmas display is from 1961 through 1976. Sadly, the business closed its doors in 1977 and remained that way until the late 1980’s. After reopening in 1989 as the Mellon Independence Center, the building’s ownership has changed several different times.

5. Present Day

Today, the Lits Building still goes by its original name, but new businesses have moved in to fill up the thousands of square feet of abandoned retail space. Local moving company Cheap Movers Philadelphia ( helped with moving many of the current businesses into this new office space and says the renovation of the building has done wonders for the surrounding neighborhood. “It’s really revived the vibe of Center City”, said Tim, a member of the sales team. Now in the building where the Lit family made Philadelphia fashion-forward, sit a whole slew of new, successful businesses including the Bank of New York and the corporate headquarters of the teen-oriented discount store Five Below. The building also features Rachel’s original shop sign on the marquee, reading ‘Hats Trimmed Free of Charge.’ While the building has changed in many ways over the years, it remains one of the most iconic buildings in Philadelphia.

What to Know Before Moving Into an Historic Building in NYC

Many New York City property buyers tend to find and fall in love with old historic buildings. While these beautiful properties can be very charming, it’s important to understand the many restrictions and expenses included when closing a deal on a historical space. With structural needs, hidden issues, and lots of refurbishment spend, purchasing an old home is not always easy or cheap. For those of you who are considering buying a timeless piece of real estate, here are a few essential things to know before moving into a historical building in NYC.

What Qualifies as a Historic Building?

The National Register of Historic Places defines a historic building as a building that demonstrates a signature architectural design, is associated with famous people in history or captures a particular time period. A historic building could also include a house that is designated in a historical district. In New York City, there are hundreds of buildings that have been designated as historical landmarks (click here to see the map).

Restrictions and Additional Costs

The main goal of renovating a historic building usually includes preserving its original construction and design. Before purchasing a space, you’ll need to obtain special permits to protect the character of the neighborhood or property. These permits can make it tricky to add individual elements to a home, such as square footage and extra rooms. And because the exterior parts of a house represent the original design, a building’s roof, windows, and shutters will most likely need to be preserved, which can cost additional money.

Higher Utility Bills

Utility bills also tend to run high in older spaces, as with outdated insulation or inefficient HVAC systems, they often consume more energy for heating and cooling throughout the year. Before buying, it’s best to investigate a home’s previous bills to better understand how much you’ll need to pay. While you can qualify for tax benefits after investing in a historic building or district that needs restoration, tax levies for living within a historical area or property tend to be much higher compared to other NYC neighborhoods. To find out more about setting up your new home’s utilities, check out this guide to setting up NYC utilities from Imperial Moving with services in Manhattan, Brooklyn, & Queens.

Buying Process

After considering the expenses involved when purchasing a historic building, here are the next steps in the buying process:

  • Ensure that the house meets all health and safety standards by conducting lead paint and asbestos tests
  • Consult a qualified and experienced home inspector or structural engineer who specializes in older homes to do a formal home inspection
  • Collect estimates from local contractors on all essential repairs and renovations required

Once you’ve thoroughly assessed the property, you may discover that there are expansions or remodeling plans that you can’t fulfill due to restrictions or underlying issues. And if you discover that your historical home has suffered from major structural problems, it might be best to walk away and settle on another property.

If you do find a building that meets all of your needs while agreeing with all housing restrictions, congratulations! Historic houses in NYC often have unique architecture and beautiful features that have withstood the test of time and can be wonderful homes for raising a family.

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The Lits Building at 7th and Market Street in Philadelphia was once emblematic of the great, thriving city of Philadelphia. Built in 1891 as a department store, this historical building has always been one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful buildings. For decades, it was home to the successful Lit Brothers department store, but when the store … Read more

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