ADVOCACY UPDATE: One New District (and One More Under Consideration)

Say hello to Philadelphia’s newest local historic district, the Conwell House Block. The district was approved by unanimous consent at the April meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission and without owner objection.
The Conwell House Block Historic District is a row of seven c.1885 Gothic/Second Empire twins along the 2000 block of N. Broad St (2010-2022 N. Broad St). They include the former home of Rev. Russell Conwell, founder of the college which later evolved into Temple University. The full nomination is available here.
On a disappointing note, we were unsuccessful in designating 1206 Chestnut St, the former Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. Despite strong effort on our part to demonstrate the building’s architectural significance and viable path toward redevelopment, the Commissioners agreed with owner representative’s objections by a vote of 6-3. We are nevertheless grateful to the nomination’s author, Libbie Hawes, and several members of the Alliance’s professional network for their pro bono advice: Janice Woodcock, Marian Kornilowicz, and Lee Casaccio, son of the architect of the building’s 1962 Modernist makeover.
Finally, the Christian Street Historic District has been formally accepted by the staff of the Historical Commission and is tentatively scheduled for Committee on Historic Designation review on Wed., June 15. The full nomination is available for review here. By virtue of the district’s formal acceptance by staff, a temporary demolition moratorium in place along Christian Street is now lifted, and properties proposed within the district currently fall under the jurisdiction of the Historical Commission. If successful, the district will recognize 154 properties, the majority of which are associated with the early 20th century rise of the Black professional class and neighboring working-class families in South Philadelphia. 

Citywide Survey Pilot Team Announced

The Department of Planning & Development has just announced the team of consultants tasked with developing a survey plan and pilot for a City-wide Cultural Resources Survey. The team includes The Roz GroupLittle Giant Creative, and Partners for Sacred Places. Each bring unique perspective and relevant local experience to the project. Per the Department’s press release, the consultant team will:
– Develop an ongoing community engagement plan as part of the Survey and pilot project.
– Identify and reach out to varied communities, ensuring that those who have not typically had a voice in Philadelphia preservation can provide critical feedback.
– Facilitate public meetings and focus groups.
– Incorporate input from varied stakeholders and community members into the survey
planning process.
– Develop survey methodology and recommendations that City staff can implement.
– Test survey methodology in pilot project.
Seriously pursuing a citywide survey of cultural and historic resources was one of the many recommendations advanced by Mayor Kenney’s Historic Preservation Task Force. To be clear, the funding and infrastructure for a comprehensive, fully citywide survey are still far on the horizon. But the foundations laid by the plan and pilot will ensure that the City is working both holistically and equitably in its development of such a survey, the first such central inventory pursued in Philadelphia.

May Preservation To-Do List

Enjoy the beautiful weather with Preservation events around Philadelphia. This month celebrate National Historic Preservation Month with historic walks around Philadelphia, get involved with Love Your Park week, join the Philadelphia Arts Rally, and much more!

Click here to view more preservation-related events around town this month. 


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