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Committed to Preserving Historic Philadelphia

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is located in one of the most historic districts in the United Sates. When the Foundation needed to expand in order to bring their large archive facility onsite, preserving the historic integrity of the neighborhood and the surrounding structures was crucial. They worked closely with Ed Barnhart from Always by Design, to renovate and restore an abandoned building adjacent to the property and created an incredible new facility to store all of their archives. After the project began, the team found that the façade was in danger of peeling away from the interior structure. Restoring the façade was a tedious project that included…

  1. Removing exterior fire escape and interior stair tower

  2. Bracing the historic facade with a structural steel frame “headhouse”, inserting new alternating tread staircase, and demolishing remainder of building

  3. Erecting a braced structural steel frame for new archive building.

  4. Restoring historic façade by cleaning away dirt and layers of paint.

  5. Enclosing the new structure and installing high-bay mobile archive shelving system, archive-quality mechanical system and multiple fire protection and security systems.

Restoring the façade from 1855 was only part of the process in creating the archive storage facility for the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Getting enough storage capacity in this space was crucial. At first, Barnhart investigated using individual floors in the building (4 floors originally) but once he accounted for an elevator and two egress stairways, there was no real useable space left to store the archives. “When looking at the plans for creating a facility in there, we realized that we didn’t need the interior floors, and could build the shelves straight up,” said Patrick Shea, Chief Curator of Archives and Manuscripts with the Chemical Heritage Foundation. “And that’s when we reached out to Spacesaver,” said Barnhart, “Because they have this pretty amazing high-bay system, both a fixed version and a mobile version.”

Watch the video to get a deeper understanding of how XTend Mobile High Bay Shelving from Spacesaver was crucial in accommodating 8,000 archive boxes in a 16’ wide space:

To learn how Offsite Storage could benefit your facility, give us a call, 410-472-0824, or email us at


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