Name: Keppel’s Wholesale Confectionery Company Building
Address: 323-329 North Queen Street
Built: 1913 (323-325); unknown (327-329)
Architect: C. Emlen Urban; unknown
The former R.F. Keppel & Bro. factory on North Queen Street is an elegant heap of a building, half Beaux-Arts dandy, half square-jawed pugilist, and crowned by a rusting industrial spire that looks like it was conjured out of a Charles Demuth painting. In a town that gave birth to Hershey’s, Peeps, and chocolate Easter bunnies (none of which were a Keppel innovation) the building had a long but undistinguished clock-punching career as a candy factory. But in its afterlife, the Keppel Building has transformed into an ad-hoc cultural institution that’s the envy of forgotten industrial buildings everywhere. Lured by adaptable space and cheap rents, dozens of artists and musicians have taken up residence within its walls, beatifying the structure through the simple act of doing exactly whatever they want to do within it.
The building was recently sold, and rents are reportedly going up. The new developer has inevitable condominium aspirations, but radical change does not appear imminent. Which in this case is a very good thing. This is a building that’s comfortable in its own skin, be it terra cotta, brick, or rusting corrogated metal.