March Advocacy Update

New Future for the Coltrane House

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced a new $5 million program, the Descendants and Family Stewardship Initiative, within the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The John Coltrane House, 1511 North 33rd Street in Strawberry Mansion, will be the first site aided by the initiative. It will assist in transferring ownership of the property, which has been mired in legal battles, to a nonprofit managed by Coltrane’s sons.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999, the property has been vacant and threatened for many years, but many dreamed about restoring the home of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. In 2013, the Alliance led the creation of a plan for rehabilitation and programming of the Coltrane house with support from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Those plans came to naught when the last owner-occupant of the property, Ms. Lenora Early, died in 2015. In 2020, the property was listed on Preservation Pennsylvania’s “Pennsylvania at Risk” list. The Strawberry Mansion CDC and Community Design Collaborative prepared a vision for a John Coltrane Museum and Cultural Center in 2021.

The Alliance is glad a resolution of the property’s ownership has been confirmed and looks forward to the next chapter celebrating Coltrane’s legacy. 

Read More in the Inquirer 
Read More in the NY Times

Roundhouse Nomination Review Continued

The March Historical Commission meeting did not address the nomination for the Police Administration Building, also known as the Roundhouse. Instead, the nomination for 700-34 Race Street will be considered at the Commission’s September meeting. This is the second six-month continuance requested by the City, this time by the Parker Administration, which is busy filling out its leadership team.

The Preservation Alliance and Docomomo Greater Philadelphia's nomination was submitted in December 2022 and reviewed by the Committee on Historic Designation in September 2023.

The Alliance hopes the nomination will move forward at the September meeting, and the property will be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Vandalism Fundraising Update

Early in the morning of February 19, an individual threw rocks through stained glass windows at the historic Mother Bethel AME Church at 419 S. 6th Street in Society Hill. The windows that were damaged date to the 1890s. The church is the oldest piece of land continuously owned by African Americans in the country.

Southern Elevation of Mother Bethel AME Church

The congregation received estimates of $18,000 to repair the broken windows and $12,000 to upgrade exterior security with better lighting and cameras. The Preservation Alliance began collecting online contributions to help Mother Bethel recover from this senseless act of vandalism. Over $25,000 has been raised, getting close to the Church’s fundraising goal.

The same vandal who allegedly broke windows at Mother Bethel also struck the National Shrine of St. John Neumann, housed in St. Peter The Apostle Church, at 1019 N. 5th Street, on the same morning. There, he damaged three stained glass windows. Estimated repair costs are $20,000, and they have raised over $5,000 so far.

Thank you to all who supported these historic congregations in their time of need. A suspect has been arrested for these thoughtless acts of vandalism. According to the police, there is no indication that his actions were politically or religiously motivated.

Damaged Window at St. Peter

Pennsylvania Historic Tax Credit Advocacy Continues

The Preservation Alliance, alongside Preservation Pennsylvania and other statewide partners, continues to advocate for improving the commonwealth's tax credit program. Currently, the PA historic tax credit program is capped at only $5 million annually, a highly inadequate sum given the demand for historic rehabilitation projects. Our coalition supports raising the cap to $100 million.

Hidden City recently profiled our work and spotlighted the need for additional funding for this program.

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