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June 07, 2019

Nine historic Philly structures receive state grants for preservation

Historical Buildings Preservation
Powel House Old City Beyond My Ken/Creative Commons

The Powel House, built in 1765, was once called the "finest Georgian row house" in Philadelphia. It escaped demolition in 1931 with help from the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, which will receive $90,000 in state grants to restore portions of the now-museum.

Nine Philadelphia projects have been awarded state preservation grants to protect their historic and archeological character. 

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission distributed a total of $2.5 million to 57 projects across the state through its Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program. All grants require a 50 percent cash match and are selected through a competitive process. 

In Philadelphia, the project to receive the largest grant was Old City's Powel House, the Georgia Colonial townhouse where Philadelphia's first mayor under British rule resided. The building is now a museum and home to a decorative arts collection. 

With $90,000 from the grant program, the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks will replace the building's roof and restore other portions of the facility. 

“The assistance received from this grant is integral to the completion of our project and will ensure that the Powel House, the last great Old City Mansion that Washington frequented, remains a cultural asset of the Philadelphia region and an innovative window into the varying historical interpretations of our past," said Kayla Anthony, executive director of PhilaLandmarks. 

The other city projects awarded grants are as follows (not all were specified in detail): 

$44,200 – American Philosophical Society to rehabilitate the existing windows to ensure the long-term integrity of Philosophical Hall, which is the society’s headquarters and was built in 1789.

• $37,911 – Independence Seaport Museum to continue critical repairs to the hull of the National Historic Landmark Cruiser Olympia.
 $65,175 – Historic Gloria Dei Preservation Corporation to help make repairs to the Gloria Dei Church, Parish Hall, and Sexton’s House, all damaged by weather and deferred maintenance.
• $20,783 – Awbury Arboretum Association, Inc. 
• $25,000 – Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc.
• $45,453 – Mount Vernon Baptist Church
• $60,490 – Philadelphia Girls' Rowing Club
• $84,525 – Stenton, NSCDA/PA

The full list of grants also includes several projects in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties.  

"These grants make an enormous difference to communities across Pennsylvania," PHMC Executive Director Andrea Lowery said. "They assist townships and municipalities in revitalization and development efforts, providing funding for vibrant use of historic buildings within their communities. We are thrilled to provide increased funding to more than $2.5 million this year, supporting 57 projects, including several in distressed cities."