Scientific Archives Have Hip New Address in Philadelphia Business Journal

Philadelphia Business Journal

The new John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

October 9, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

By Peter Van Allen

The Chemical Heritage Foundation will officially unveil its archive-storage area this week.

The John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business at CHF takes over space at 36 S. 3rd St. that combines old and new features.

It is situated behind the foundation’s main building, whose street address is 315 Chestnut St.

It preserves a historic, four-story brownstone facade that dates to 1855. However, the rest of the building is brand new. Neighboring Old City businesses include the restaurants Farmicia and National Mechanics.

It will be used to house archives—including historic records from the Rohm and Haas Chemical Co., which was acquired by Dow Chemical Co. in 2009, and scientific societies, as well as personal papers of Nobel laureates, scientists and industrialists.

I had an exclusive look at the building this week with Ronald Brashear, the Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library of Chemical History, and Tom Swift, building engineer and project manager who oversaw construction of the new site.

Inside, it contains 8,400 linear feet of shelf space—that’s a mile and a half of shelving. It’s literally floor-to-ceiling shelves going up 35 feet. The shelves move laterally, which makes better use of the space. Researchers and archivists use a fork-lift type system to reach the dizzying heights of the higher shelves.

The building cost $4 million, about $1 million of which was devoted to saving the historic facade.

It supplements storage areas within the Chemical Heritage Foundation and replaces leased storage space in Wilmington, Del.

Five years ago, the nonprofit added a museum in its main building, and the organization rents out related meeting space.

Link to Philadelphia Business Journal

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