June Advocacy Update

Main Sales Floor of Jacob Reed’s Sons’ Protected

At this month’s Historical Commission meeting, the Alliance’s nomination for the Main Sales Floor of Jacob Reed’s Sons' Store, 1424 Chestnut Street, was designated! The nomination was remanded following designation in 2022 due to the owner claiming lack of notice.

Fortunately, the Commissioners recognized the significance of this Arts and Crafts-style commercial interior. Completed between 1904 and 1905, the store was the first commercial building in Philadelphia constructed of reinforced concrete, best expressed by the public interior space of the Main Sales Floor. William L. Price’s design, with Henry Chapman Mercer’s Moravian Pottery tiles and Gertrude Monaghan’s murals, will now be protected!

Philadelphia’s historic preservation ordinance allows for the designation of interior spaces that were originally designed for free public access. The Jacob Reed’s space is the fifth interior listed, joining Philadelphia City Council chambers, Family Court, 30th Street Station, and Wanamaker’s Grand Court. The Preservation Alliance was the nominator for all except City Council chambers.

Historic Tax Credit Bills Introduced in PA General Assembly

Over the last few weeks, we gained momentum in our advocacy efforts to improve PA’s historic tax credit program.

Last Friday, Senators Nikil Saval and Frank Farry introduced S.B. 1259, which would raise the annual aggregate cap to $50 million, ensure syndicated partnerships with non-profits are eligible for the program, and increase funding for DCED and PHMC to administer the program.

On June 11, the House Finance Committee passed H.B. 2358, which would increase the annual aggregate cap to $20 million. Earlier this month, our Executive Director, Paul Steinke, testified in a public hearing of the Committee supporting the legislation. While this amount is lower than the Senate's ask, there is an opportunity to reconcile the two bills during the ongoing budget negotiation process.

Please get in touch with your legislators to support these important bills. As the budget negotiations continue, there is a crucial opportunity to include our legislative language. More details and information can be found on our webpage

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Support the Washington Square West Historic District 

The hearing for the Washington Square West Historic District nomination, co-sponsored by the Alliance and the Washington Square West Civic Association, was continued to the July Historical Commission meeting. Not enough commissioners were present at the June meeting to form a quorum to consider the matter. In late May, the Committee on Historic Designation unanimously recommended approval of the Washington Square West Historic District.

The proposed district illustrates the development of Philadelphia’s residential and commercial core over more than two centuries, from the establishment of the Mikveh Israel Cemetery in 1740, through the growth of the City's Black community in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the emergence of the neighborhood as an LGBTQ+ community beginning in the 1960s.

If you support adding this historic district to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, please email the Historical Commission to express your support! We also encourage you to attend the next Historical Commission meeting on July 12 to be held virtually.

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Public Input Wanted on Future of Airy St. Prison

Montgomery County recently released a survey to collect public input on the future of the Airy Street Prison in Norristown. After withdrawing the demolition permit, the county wants to collect innovative concepts for the site from the community. 

Participating in the survey lets the county know that there is support for preserving this gothic structure. The survey is open until July 25.

Last month, Colliers Engineering & Design Inc. was awarded a building condition assessment contract to develop a full structural assessment report. This will give prospective developers a better picture of the property in the forthcoming Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI). The Preservation Alliance applauds these steps to better understand how the reuse of the historic prison can revitalize the Montgomery County seat. 

Take Survey

The city’s first historic district recognized primarily for Black history, Black Doctors Row, will be the site of a street renaming ceremony tomorrow, Friday, June 21, hosted by Council President Kenyatta Johnson. The event is free and open to the public. The Preservation Alliance’s Executive Director, Paul Steinke, will provide remarks at the ceremony!

The historic district, cosponsored by the Alliance and South of South Neighborhood Association and designated in 2022, recognizes the street’s emergence in the 20th century as a spine of Black middle-class life. It was lined with Black churches, institutions, fraternal organizations, and the homes of prominent Black community leaders and professionals. It covers a six-block stretch of Christian Street, running west of South Broad Street to 20th Street.

Hood Mansion Offered for Free

An 1834 stone mansion in Limerick Township is being offered free to anyone who can move it to a new location. The Historic Hood Mansion, built in 1834 by John McClellan Hood, will otherwise be demolished. Help save the Montgomery County house before impending development destroys it.

For additional information, contact the Eastern Pennsylvania Preservation Society

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