Kensington Soup Society
1036 Crease Street, Philadelphia
UPDATE: On March 9, 2012, the Philadelphia Historical Commission added the Kensington Soup Society to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places! CLICK HERE to view the nomination.
Significance: In an era before government assistance programs were commonplace, private philanthropic organizations were fundamental to the social and physical fabric of America’s early industrial cities. In Philadelphia, neighborhood “Soup Societies” were community anchors, providing food and other assistance to the indigent and working poor. The Kensington Soup Society building, erected in 1870, was the city’s longest-running soup house until its closure in 2008. It is one of only three purpose-built soup kitchen buildings still standing, and the only one not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Threat: In 2008 the building was sold to a private developer who has yet to redevelop the property, which has now sat vacant for over three years. The building still retains a high degree of architectural integrity, but remains vulnerable to demolition or adverse alteration.
Recommendation: Concerned neighbors have nominated the building to the Philadelphia Register; their application is currently pending before the Philadelphia Historical Commission. If future plans for the property involve apartment units or other income-generating uses, listing on the National Register could also help finance an historically sensitive rehabilitation.