January Advocacy Update

Credit: PHC Application Materials

Beneficial Savings Fund Society, South Philadelphia Branch Designated

In May 2023, the Preservation Alliance submitted a nomination to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places for 2037 South Broad Street.

It was built in 1928 as the second branch office of the Beneficial Saving Fund Society headquartered in Center City. As they did for their home at 1200 Chestnut Street in 1915 and the first branch bank in Kensington in 1923, Beneficial commissioned the renowned architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer to design the new South Philadelphia branch.

Sources suggest that Julian Abele, the first Black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department in 1902 and Trumbauer’s chief designer from 1909 to 1938, likely oversaw the design of the building.

At the January Philadelphia Historical Commission meeting, the property was designated with unanimous consent. The Preservation Alliance is very happy that the Classical Revival-style bank is protected as a prominent feature of the South Broad landscape.

Credit: PHC Application Materials

Also, at the meeting, the Roy "Campy" Campanella Childhood Home was designated by unanimous consent. The Preservation Alliance recently profiled 1538 Kerbaugh Street in the “Unlisted” section of the Fall 2023 Extant edition. We were happy that the Historical Commission staff prepared a nomination for this very important resource. Campy was a baseball legend, and his family home is a fitting addition to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Overbrook Presbyterian Church Suffers Fire

Overbrook Presbyterian Church at 6376 City Avenue, within the Overbrook Farms Historic District, experienced a 2-alarm fire on the evening of January 15. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but their sanctuary suffered significant damage along with water and smoke damage to other sections of the building.

A modest chapel designed by Addison Hutton was erected on the site in 1889. After the surrounding neighborhood of Overbrook Farms was developed in the 1890s, William and Walter Price designed a prominent Gothic Revival addition, including the still-used sanctuary, which doubled the size of the church. Another addition was designed by Davis, Dunlap, and Barney in 1925 to serve the growing congregation and its many programs.

The Overbrook Presbyterian Church occupies an important triangular site at the intersection of City Line and Lancaster Avenues. The Preservation Alliance will share resources to help the congregation’s recovery as they become available. 

Dixie Hummingbirds' Headquarters Recommended for Designation

Credit: PHC Application Materials

At the January Committee on Historic Designation meeting, the Preservation Alliance’s nomination for the Dixie Hummingbird Headquarters at 2435 North College Avenue was recommended for designation.

With a career spanning five decades, the Dixie Hummingbirds are among the most influential American gospel groups of the 20th century. American R&B giants such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations cite the Hummingbirds as an early inspiration.

Formed in South Carolina, the group eventually moved north to Philadelphia amid the late waves of the Great Migration. The house at 2435 North College Avenue, immediately north of Girard College, was the primary residence of group founder James B. Davis and served as a headquarters for the Hummingbirds.

The property would be a fitting addition to the local register, keeping with other recent designations of homes associated with prominent Black musicians like Sun Ra, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Pearl Bailey. The Preservation Alliance is hopeful the property will be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places at the February Historical Commission meeting. 

Submit a Nomination for the 2024 Preservation Achievement Awards

Each year, the Preservation Alliance presents the Preservation Achievement Awards to a select group of individuals, organizations, and businesses for projects from throughout the region that exemplify outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation.

The awards honor projects involving the preservation or protection of historic resources, including the restoration, rehabilitation, and/or adaptive reuse of historic properties; sympathetic new additions to historic buildings; or education, documentation, and advocacy work on behalf of the preservation of our heritage.

Nominations may be submitted through Friday, February 2, 2024. 

Learn More

PA SHPO Seeks Input on Statewide Historic Preservation Plan

The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office has begun outreach for Pennsylvania’s next official statewide historic preservation plan. The state’s current plan will expire at the end of 2024.

Public engagement is essential to the planning process and the first step in developing a responsive statewide plan. Pennsylvanians are invited to participate in PA SHPO's “Planning for Preservation in Pennsylvania, 2024–2034” survey online.

The results of the survey will help identify issues and create a shared vision for the future of Pennsylvania’s older and historic places.

Take Survey
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