Enjoy the Whole Series

Register for the the spring season and don’t miss a lecture.

View our bookstore for a list of book recommendations by our speakers this season!

Thank you to our Series Sponsor, The Center for the Preservation of Modernism and MS in Historic Preservation at Jefferson University.

Visible Layers of the Schuylkill Navigation: Industry, Urbanization, Pollution, Abandonment, Repurpose

February 28, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Sandy Sorlien, author of Inland: The Abandoned Canals of the Schuylkill Navigation

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The Schuylkill Navigation system, often known (misleadingly) as the Schuylkill Canal, once tamed our river for 108 miles. Millions of tons of anthracite shipped from the coal region helped grow Philadelphia and enriched the Philadelphia-based Schuylkill Navigation Company. Built by hand starting in 1816, the Schuylkill Navigation predated the famous Erie Canal, but is little known outside its own canal towns. (We need a song.) In Philadelphia, the short Manayunk Canal is today a popular site, but what about our other canal? The Fairmount Canal is beautifully portrayed, if somewhat incidentally, at the edge of countless 19th century renderings of the iconic Fairmount Water Works. But the canal, having come to represent obsolete technology and shameful pollution, was unceremoniously buried in 1956 for the Schuylkill Expressway. A 1962 plan for another expressway proposed burying the Manayunk Canal too, yet it survived as a historic district. It has intact lock structures at both ends, unique among the Navigation’s 27 canals. Why were these outcomes so different, and why do these places matter? Over the last ten years, Sandy Sorlien explored the woods and back yards of five Pennsylvania counties and photographed nearly every remnant of the Navigation, some quite buried but others saved. In this presentation she will share images and maps, and discuss the layered history of this influential waterway.

Sandy Sorlien is the author of Inland: The Abandoned Canals of the Schuylkill Navigation, published by George F. Thompson in 2022. Sandy taught photography at the University of the Arts, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia University, and other schools. She received three Fellowships in Photography from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and two Fellowships from the Charles E. Peterson Fund of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia for Inland. Since 2013, Sandy has contracted as an Educator and Environmental Photographer at the Fairmount Water Works. Sandy’s next photography project is about the Schuylkill Water Gap.

The Paul Robeson House Museum – Life, Legacy, and Culture

March 7, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

Presented by Janice Sykes-Ross, Executive Director of The West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and The Paul Robeson House and Museum

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Presented by Janice Sykes-Ross

In this engaging talk, Janice will share the story of the diverse and multifaceted life of Paul L. Robeson including his work as an actor, musician, athlete and activist. Janice will share the challenges and pleasures of  developing, preserving, and running a historic house museum. Learn how the Paul Robeson House Museum combined their programming for the house to reflect the life and legacy of Robeson, while connecting it to relevant social justice initiatives, and using art as a medium for change.     

Janice Sykes-Ross, CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) was born in North Carolina and attended Trenton State College majoring in English. Janice began her hospitality career in Princeton, NJ as the Director of Sales & Marketing. It was there that she was first introduced to the life and legacy of Paul L. Robeson Esq. 

Later she moved to the Philadelphia area with the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, and for twenty-five years (25) worked in the hospitality industry. Utilizing her many skills acquired working in the corporate sector and receiving her certification in non-profit management from Drexel University, she transitioned to working in the non-profit arena in 2015. As a leader for organizations like People for People/The View, The Historic Belmont Mansion, and currently serving as Executive Director of The West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance/Paul Robeson House & Museum. She finds the working with these organizations and fulfilling their mission tremendously rewarding.

Ed Bacon and Oskar Stonorov – Two Masters Who Found Their Inspiration in Chester County

March 14, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by James Garrison, architect and author.

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Ed Bacon, the renowned city planner, and architect Oskar Stonorov, the architect who sought to realize the social promises of modern architecture, had careers and families deeply intertwined with each other.

The story begins a generation before.  Ellis Bacon, Ed’s father, was a secondary school classmate with Frank Foster, who would become the father-in-law of Oskar Stonorov.  Ed Bacon and Oskar Stonorov both wed in 1938.  The contributions of their wives to the creative milieu cannot be overstated since each had interests and activities which created the synergy between the design thinking and progressive social reforms.  

The ideas for improved workers’ housing and education, along with community and city planning spawned in Chester County the late 1930’s would go on to have international significance over the next thirty years and impacts well after that.  The strands that make up the fabric of this story are interwoven in the family stories of these two couples and their formative time in rural Chester County where the core environment is little changed over the past 80 years.  This presentation will look at the places, buildings and people in the Middle Pickering National Register Historic District who were fundamental to the story of progressive modernism.

James Garrison is an architect and author with over forty years in the profession and several books to his credit.  The majority of his professional work has been in historic preservation, adaptive re-use and new buildings designed in traditional styles.  His interest in architectural design and building technology also informs his writing and lecturing on architecture.  Recent books include a survey of early 20th century houses in the Philadelphia region and a pictorial monograph about houses of southeastern Pennsylvania designed in traditional styles.  While now working in corporate facilities real estate in suburban Philadelphia, he also continues to be active in local and regional preservation matters while writing and lecturing.

150 Years of Public Art and Preservation

March 21, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Penny Bach, former Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Association for Public Art (aPA).

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Presented by Penny Bach

Envisioned as a citizens’ movement at the vanguard of public art and urban design, the Fairmount Park Art Association (now aPA, Association for Public Art) was founded in 1872 as the first public art organization in the United States. These civic-minded people sought to “promote and foster the beautiful” when industrial and commercial interests threatened to erode the city’s character. Largely due to the work of the Association, Philadelphia’s public art includes significant works that parallel the history of American sculpture. Accordingly, aPA has promoted outdoor sculpture conservation and advocacy efforts that connect people with public art. This presentation will take you on a marathon, story-telling journey from the earliest thinking about public art through our current cultural and social environment.

Penny Balkin Bach is the former Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Association for Public Art (aPA). A curator, writer, educator, and public art consultant, she is well known for her work that creates new opportunities for artists and creative professionals, while advocating for the responsible stewardship of public art. Bach is an internationally recognized and award-winning leader in the field of public art, and she has been a participant on numerous local, national, and international juries. Her work is distinctively positioned at the intersection of art, architecture, landscape design, celebration, performance, pedagogy, and public history. She is the author of Public Art in Philadelphia and has written and lectured extensively about art and the environment.

Emergence of a Modern Dwelling: Richard Neutra’s Hassrick House

March 28, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Dr. Suzanne Singletary, Director of the Center for the Preservation of Modernism at Jefferson, and Suzanna Barucco, principal of sbk + partners, LLC.

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Presented by Suzanne Singletary, Ph.D. and Suzanna Barucco, MA

Beginning in 2015, Thomas Jefferson University students and faculty collaborated to study and document the Hassrick House (1958-61), one of a relatively small number of local buildings designed by renowned modernist architect Richard Neutra. In Emergence of a Modern Dwelling, Suzanne Singletary and Suzanna Barucco will describe the historic arc of the house, from the process of the house’s original design through letters and drawings between architect and client, modifications by later owners, decline and abandonment, and re-discovery and revitalization.  Part of the site’s revitalization is its rebirth as a laboratory for learning for Jefferson students.  

Suzanne Singletary, Ph.D. is Director of the MS in Historic Preservation program in Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Architecture & the Built Environment and Director of the Center for the Preservation of Modernism at Jefferson.  Dr. Singletary teaches courses on the history of the preservation movement and contemporary topics, and critical issues in the restoration and rehabilitation of modern and mid-century modern buildings and sites.  She also currently serves as Associate Dean for New Academic Initiatives and Graduate Studies. 

Suzanna Barucco, MA is an adjunct professor in the MS in Historic Preservation program at Thomas Jefferson University and principal of sbk + partners, LLC, a historic preservation consulting practice with projects throughout the Delaware Valley.  

The Problem with Periodization: Civil Rights in Philadelphia

April 4, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Amber Wiley Ph.D., Matt and Erika Nord Director of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS).

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Presented by Amber Wiley, Ph.D.

The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design defines civil rights as “the Black experience in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, not confined to the South nor to the critical period of 1954-1968.” As such, the CPCRS undertakes research both locally and nationally that moves beyond the general notion of the classical Civil Rights Movement. This talk will focus on this expanded notion of civil rights and the CPCRS’ various initiatives in the greater Philadelphia area that uplift the life and legacies of Henry Ossawa Tanner, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Bayard Rustin.

Amber N. Wiley is the inaugural Matt and Erika Nord Director of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) and Presidential Associate Professor in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. Her research interests center on the social aspects of design and how it affects urban communities – architecture as a literal and figural structure of power. She focuses on the ways local and national bodies have made the claim for the dominating narrative and collective memory of cities and examines how preservation and public history contribute to the creation and maintenance of the identity and sense of place of a city.

A Diamond in the Rough: The Legacy and Trials of Church of the Advocate

April 11, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Tyler Ray, aspiring urban planner, historic preservationist, and public historian based in North Philadelphia.

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Presented by Tyler Ray

On October 9th, 1897, The Philadelphia Times wrote: “The Memorial Church of the Advocate, designed by Charles M. Burns, is the most important and complete example of French Gothic architecture on this continent”. Originally intended to be the cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Church of the Advocate has been a pillar of social activism in North Philadelphia for over 125 years. It is mostly known today as being the location of the Black Panther Conference in 1970, and hosting the ordination of the first women priest into the Episcopal Church in 1974. Today, the church still finds resilience to serve its Philadelphia neighborhood while its physical structure is slowly crumbling down. Join North Philadelphia historian Tyler A. Ray as he talks about the establishment, legacy, trials, and future of one of America’s most grandest religious structures, hidden right here in the City of Philadelphia. 

Tyler A. Ray is an aspiring urban planner, historic preservationist, and public historian based in North Philadelphia. As a recent graduate of Temple University’s Urban Planning and Historic Preservation programs, Tyler has made it his life mission to revive, amplify, and activate historic buildings and sites in the marginalized communities of Philadelphia and beyond. 

To the Future! Rail Park Visioning and Next Steps

April 18, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Rebecca Cordes Chan, Executive Director of Friends of the Rail Park

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Presented by Rebecca Cordes Chan

The Rail Park is a vision for a three mile linear park and multi-use pathway connecting 10+ Philadelphia neighborhoods and 50 city blocks along the site of former Reading and Pennsylvania Railroad lines. Open to the public since June 2018, Phase One of the Rail Park transformed a quarter-mile elevated section of viaduct from Broad and Noble streets up to the 1100 block of Callowhill Street in Philadelphia, serving as an award winning proof of concept. The development of Phase One was led by Center City District, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA and Friends of the Rail Park.

In light of new leadership and shifting stakeholder priorities in the wake of the pandemic, Friends of the Rail Park commissioned a cost estimate and feasibility study in 2021. The goal of this exercise and FRP’s work, which examined the full three mile vision for the Rail Park, was twofold: determine a viable next phase of the Rail Park, and better understand how the Rail Park can contribute to comprehensive community development in the 10+ neighborhoods the park touches and for the city of Philadelphia. In this presentation, friends of the Rail Park’s Executive Director, Rebecca Cordes Chan, will share the preliminary results of this work and the path forward. 

Rebecca Cordes Chan is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Rail Park, the organization dedicated to bringing the Rail Park– a vision for a three mile greenway and infrastructure reuse project to life. Prior to joining the Rail Park, Rebecca was the program officer for the National Economic Development and Creative Placemaking programs at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), where she managed a portfolio of projects focused on using arts- and culturally-based strategies as tools for inclusive economic development. She received her MS from the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design, and a BA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Philly Streets Have a History Too

April 25, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Lori Aument, building conservator and founder of the Philadelphia history podcast, Found in Philadelphia.

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Presented by Lori Aument

When we think of a city, we typically picture it as a collection of buildings. Maybe we see a skyline or a line of rowhomes. But the city is also a network of public streets and open spaces: the places in between the buildings. So much of our lives in the city happens on the street. It’s where we meet. It’s where we move. It’s where our city works. And our streets have a history too. They reflect who we are, as a city. It’s a history of change, but it’s also a story about how some things stay the same. In this talk, we’ll discuss why the history of our streets matter. These spaces that we take for granted are products of choices that people have made over time. We’ll see how central issues on the street were throughout the formative stages of Philadelphia. Hopefully, you’ll never see the streets the same way again.

Lori Aument is a building conservator in private practice in Philadelphia. Her expertise is in the history of architecture and the practical methods needed to protect and repair historic sites. She has worked on sites of national significance, such as Independence Square, the Washington Monument in D.C., and Civil Rights landmarks in Alabama and Georgia. In 2019, Lori launched the Philadelphia history podcast, Found in Philadelphia, to engage listeners with stories from the past that still impact our lives today. The podcast was launched with a grant from the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and technical assistance from Drexel University’s Community Recording Studio. She is currently working on a series about the history of Philly’s streets.

The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer

May 2, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by David Rowland, President and CEO of Second Federal Savings & Loan Association of Philadelphia.

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Presented by David Rowland

Architect Horace Trumbauer (1868-1938) is well known for the wide range of residential, commercial and civic structures he designed in and around Philadelphia. He was a master at reinterpreting the various historical styles of classical design.  He worked for many of Philadelphia’s prominent families of the Gilded Age producing a number of iconic masterpieces. The presentation will highlight a number of projects he and his firm designed over a nearly 40 year period from 1891 to 1930.  

David B. Rowland is President and CEO of Second Federal Savings & Loan Association of Philadelphia, a small mutual savings bank located in Center City.  He is a board member for a number of non-profit organizations including the Old York Road Historical Society, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Rehabilitation of the Frankford Avenue Bridge, the Oldest Continuously Used Roadway Bridge in the United States

May 9, 2023, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Margaret K. Sherman, P.E and Michael J. Cuddy, P.E. The Frankford Avenue Bridge, located in the Holmesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia, is the oldest continuously used roadway bridge in the United States. The three span, stone masonry, arch bridge carries a two-lane road with flanking sidewalks over Pennypack Creek. Originally built in 1697 as part of

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presented by Margaret K. Sherman, P.E and Michael J. Cuddy, P.E.

The Frankford Avenue Bridge, located in the Holmesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia, is the oldest continuously used roadway bridge in the United States. The three span, stone masonry, arch bridge carries a two-lane road with flanking sidewalks over Pennypack Creek. Originally built in 1697 as part of the King’s Highway, the bridge was first paved in 1803 and widened in 1893. Sidewalk overhangs were added at a later date. Additional repairs include the construction of a reinforced concrete arch liner beneath the original portion of the stone masonry arch in each span and the addition of steel tie straps to prevent masonry bulging of a spandrel wall. The bridge was listed on the National Register in 1988 and is historically and technologically significant, under Criterion C in the area of engineering and technology. Continued deterioration and collision damage necessitated that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Engineering District 6-0 (PennDOT) take steps to repair the damage and preserve this engineering landmark. TranSystems served as designer on the award-winning bridge rehabilitation project, and construction was completed in September 2018.

Margaret K. Sherman, P.E, “Meg”. is an Assistant Vice President with TranSystems. As the Office Director of the Philadelphia office, Meg is responsible for the company’s work through southeastern Pennsylvania. She has been with the firm for almost 17 years and has managed and contributed to many bridge design, rehabilitation, and inspection projects, particularly those involving historic bridges. A graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and Lehigh University, she is a registered professional engineer.

Michael J. Cuddy, P.E. is a Principal/Senior Vice President with TranSystems and Entity Manager responsible for the firm’s transportation work throughout Pennsylvania.  He has been with the firm for 38 years and is responsible for many of its major bridge design, rehabilitation and inspection programs, particularly those involving historic bridges and complex structural systems.  He has been the project manager on such notable rehabilitation projects as the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, the oldest existing suspension bridge with a span greater than 1,000′ and the University Avenue bascule bridge, designed by noted Philadelphia architect Philip Cret.  A graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, he is a registered professional engineer and is noted for his innovative and practical approach to the evaluation and rehabilitation of historic bridges.

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