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114 London Restaurant on 12th Street


Battles Flower Shop to London Restaurant

London Restaurant on 12th, TPDS Offices, & TPDS Club

Built in the late 19th century, the H.H. Battles building located in Philadelphia's Center City, was designed & constructed to house a florist shop of the same name. The closing of the Battles in 1976, a poignant-and timely -question was raised. What becomes of this building designed for a particular use once the operation is gone. Dolores Browne now of DesignReasons Corp purchased the expansive and handsome structure with Warren Browne and changed it over to a restaurant and called it London Restaurant and made it into a popular Bistro in 1977. It had the charm & atmosphere of an earlier era with vaulted ceilings, war materials & period appointments.  

Armed with a lean $60,000 budget the first two floors were renovated for public use. The building's basic layout facilitated the transformation. A wide, imposing staircase joined a large room on the front of the first floor to a similarly sized space in the rear of the second level. The later graced by majestic French windows.

Major alterations were relatively few. A new kitchen facility was fitted into former offices & workrooms at the rear of the first level. Most work were preserving & restoring the original. Dark paneling and & plate mirror walls were restored to their original appearance. Brass & bronze were stripped and polished. Wood floors were sanded and polished upstairs and downstairs the linoleum was cleaned and patched. Faux Marble Corinthian columns were touched up with carefully matched paint. 

The counter tops were a beautiful milk-glass used by the florist for the cutting & arranging the flowers. With only a minimum of change, the glass was moved just slightly to overhang the base-the counter became a functional and handsome bar. A new real marble counter matching the faux painting on the base of the bar paralleled the bar used for stand-up drinking. A glass-walled refrigerator, which once held fresh orchids, was retained for use as a wine cooler. 

A spacious third floor was also preserved. This was used as a popular cabaret holding a grand piano and showcasing Philadelphia talent. 

Dolores Browne's  philosophy of preservation and adaptive reuse is simple. " If you have the original old woodwork, and all the other details, then just keep it. - Getting into the restaurant business was a reason to restore this charming place.