Built in 1912-1913 and located at the corner of Market and Dewberry Streets in downtown Harrisburg, the William Seel Building is a narrow, four-story four bay brownstone and brick building. Over the past century it has been home to a wine and liquor store, shoe store, home for orphan girls, law offices, campaign offices, union headquarters and, currently, student housing. The building underwent extensive renovations in 2015 to convert it into student apartments for the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. It is a wonderful example of early 20th century commercial architecture that is becoming increasingly rare in Harrisburg. The William Seel Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
merchant, William Seel, owned a single-story frame house on Market Street in
the early 20th century. In
1912 he had that house demolished and erected a four-story brick and brownstone
office building in its stead. His
building was constructed with brick and brownstone mined from the nearby Hummelstown
Brownstone Quarries. The Market Street façade
features stylish brownstone arches and large one-over-one windows with a single
transom above. Seel capped his building
with a surmounted overhanging cornice supported by corbels and ornamental
brackets at the corners. The remaining
three sides of the building are constructed with red brick.
At the time,
this section of downtown Harrisburg was becoming its commercial center and Seel
sought to capitalize on that fact by opening Waller and Seel Wines and Liquors
in his newly constructed building. Seel,
in 1919, then leased the building to the Kinney Shoe Company which opened its
doors in 1920. The Seel Building
remained its home until downtown Harrisburg’s commercial district began to
decline in the 1970s. William Seel owned
the building until his death in the early 1970s when it was then given in trust
to the Sylvan Heights Home for Orphan Girls, Incorporated and Paradise School,
time, the building was always partially vacant and it was eventually purchased
by the AFL-CIO and served as their headquarters in Harrisburg until it was
purchased by Brickbox Development Ltd. in 2012.
Brickbox is known for restoring historic buildings for residential
living as it did with the old Government Hotel and Kunkel Building, both also
located in Harrisburg.
then spent $900,000 renovating the building and those renovations included
removing the c. 1950s enameled metal storefront to reveal its original
brownstone exterior. They also applied a
stucco layer to the sides and rear of the building above the second floor. Unfortunately, little remains of the original
interior other than the remnants of the terrazzo floor and pressed sheet metal
ceiling and cornice. Today, the Seel building
and its 25 apartments, to include loft style apartments on its first floor due
to its high ceilings, has been leased to Harrisburg University and provides
housing for over 50 students. The Seel
Building sits across from the Market Street entrance to Strawberry Square and,
unlike the buildings around it, has successfully resisted the pressures of
urban renewal, much to the betterment of downtown Harrisburg.