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A Collection of Collections: An Update on the Atwater Kent Philadelphia History Collection

February 27, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Rosalind Remer, Ph.D. In the summer of 2018, after operating for some 80 years, the Philadelphia History Museum (also known as the Atwater Kent Museum) closed its doors. The collection—numbering around 130,000 objects—belongs to the City of Philadelphia, which had, over the years, reduced its financial commitment to the museum’s operations, a key

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presented by Rosalind Remer, Ph.D.

In the summer of 2018, after operating for some 80 years, the Philadelphia History Museum (also known as the Atwater Kent Museum) closed its doors. The collection—numbering around 130,000 objects—belongs to the City of Philadelphia, which had, over the years, reduced its financial commitment to the museum’s operations, a key factor in the museum’s closure. While members of the public were most concerned about the museum’s closing, the pressing question was what to do with the extraordinary collection chronicling Philadelphia’s history from its beginnings into the 21st century. Drexel University stepped in, at the City’s request, to evaluate the collection’s historical value, piece by piece, and to design a way for the collection to remain accessible to the public, absent a brick-and-mortar museum.

Dr. Remer will speak about the process of evaluating the Atwater Kent Collection, the exhibitions planned, and the ambitious loan program that will make the collection more accessible than ever. She will provide insight into this “collection of collections” and the stories it supports. 

Dr. Rosalind Remer, Senior Vice Provost for Collections & Exhibitions at Drexel, was an associate professor of history at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where she taught early American history for fourteen years. She was drawn to public history, museum planning and administration while on leave to direct the planning efforts for the National Constitution Center. She went on to serve as Executive Director of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, and then co-found Remer & Talbott, a consulting firm serving museums, libraries, universities, historic sites and other nonprofits. She joined Drexel University in 2013, where she served for two years as a senior advisor to the president and facilitator of Drexel’s key presidential initiatives.

Digging Around and Knocking the Dust Off- City of Philadelphia, City Archives 

March 5, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Theresa Condon and Joshua K. Blay. From its new location on Spring Garden, the City Archives continues to be a repository for many of Philadelphia’s municipal, genealogical and audiovisual records. The staff at the City Archives helps to maintain, and provide stewardship of, one of the best collections of municipal records in the

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presented by Theresa Condon and Joshua K. Blay.

From its new location on Spring Garden, the City Archives continues to be a repository for many of Philadelphia’s municipal, genealogical and audiovisual records. The staff at the City Archives helps to maintain, and provide stewardship of, one of the best collections of municipal records in the country.  Since its establishment as part of the home rule charter of 1951, the City Archives has helped preserve thousands of records which document the City’s history from the 1700s to the present. A review of the history and resources available at the City Archives will highlight the work that is being done to preserve these records. 

Theresa Condon, Archivist I, recently completed a dual MLS/MA at Queens College, in Queens, NY. Though originally from New York, Theresa has worked at several institutions in Pennsylvania, including the Mercer Museum in Bucks County and Independence National Historical Park. Before starting at the City Archives, Theresa spent a decade in museums improving her interpretive and archival skills, most recently at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, and the College Park branch of NARA.

Joshua K. Blay is a Registrar and Collections Manager of the City Archives unit of the City of Philadelphia Records Department. He started volunteering with a county historical society in Upstate New York at the age of thirteen which led to an interest in collections management. He has worked as a collections manager for a transportation company and a museum curator/associate director for a county historical society. Before coming to Philadelphia, Joshua worked for the University of Montana in Richmond, VA on a cultural resource project for the Army Corps of Engineers and the US Navy.

Preserving Your Final Home

March 12, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Nancy Goldenberg Laurel Hill is a 265-acre historic resource that changed the direction and holistic function of America cemeteries.  Located in both Philadelphia (Laurel Hill East, 1836) and Bala Cynwyd (Laurel Hill West, 1869), these nationally acclaimed cemeteries are the permanent resting places for thousands, including Frank Furness, Horace Trumbauer, Alexander Calder, and

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presented by Nancy Goldenberg

Laurel Hill is a 265-acre historic resource that changed the direction and holistic function of America cemeteries.  Located in both Philadelphia (Laurel Hill East, 1836) and Bala Cynwyd (Laurel Hill West, 1869), these nationally acclaimed cemeteries are the permanent resting places for thousands, including Frank Furness, Horace Trumbauer, Alexander Calder, and General George Meade. Beyond serving as burial grounds, visitors to Laurel Hill enjoy its breathtaking walking paths, renowned funerary monuments, beautiful landscape, and unique tours and educational programs produced by the Friends of Laurel Hill, awardee of the Preservation Alliance’s 2022 Board of Directors Award for exemplary stewardship of historic properties. This talk will focus on the cemeteries’ civic value, highlighting stewardship efforts including the upcoming rehabilitation of the iconic Laurel Hill Gatehouse, designed by renowned architect John Notman.

Nancy Goldenberg is the President & CEO of Laurel Hill, responsible for ensuring that the historic properties remain premier cultural and educational destinations and national leaders in the evolving death care industry. Prior to joining Laurel Hill, Nancy served for 20 years in multiple executive positions at the Center City District.  She also served as Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Program Manager for Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Commission, and Assistant Township Manager for Lower Merion Township, PA. Nancy has a B.A. from George Washington University and Master’s Degree in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is a founder of the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, and in 2020 was named Honorary Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Louis Kahn and the Thoughtful Making of Spaces

March 19, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by William Whitaker Louis Kahn (1901-74) was not an architect driven by practical considerations alone, rather he reinvigorated architecture with a renewed sense of monumental form and possibilities for human – perhaps even spiritual – connection. For Philadelphians, Kahn remains an artist of international significance to this day – some fifty years after his

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presented by William Whitaker

Louis Kahn (1901-74) was not an architect driven by practical considerations alone, rather he reinvigorated architecture with a renewed sense of monumental form and possibilities for human – perhaps even spiritual – connection. For Philadelphians, Kahn remains an artist of international significance to this day – some fifty years after his death on March 17, 1974. How Kahn conceptualized architecture in his own mind and developed these ideas through designs into the actuality of building will be explored through his surviving letters, drawings, and the structures themselves – many of which are kept in the University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives. Each work represents a translation of experiences and ideas exchanged across table-tops and across continents; a layered, complex back and forth – in space and time – over a broad global spectrum.

William Whitaker is curator of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. He is coauthor (with George Marcus) of The Houses of Louis Kahn and Uncrating the Japanese House: Junzo Yoshimura, Antonin and Noemi Raymond, and George Nakashima (with Yuka Yokoyama). Trained as an architect at Penn and the University of New Mexico, Whitaker works closely with the archival collections of Louis I. Kahn, Lawrence Halprin, and the partnership of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, in support of teaching, scholarship, preservation, and public engagement.

He has co-curated over forty exhibitions including Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry (Graham Foundation and Penn’s ICA), and Design With Nature Now (with the McHarg Center) – a major program of exhibitions, conference, and public programs that highlight the dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and global urbanization. He is project director for, What Minerva Built, an exhibition project charting the life and work of America’s first independent female architect, Minerva Parker Nichols.

The Battery: Reviving the Delaware Generating Station

March 26, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Chris Kenney and Aaron Bell After its prolonged abandonment The Delaware Generating Station designed by John Windrim has been repurposed for use as multi-family apartments, hotels, event space, offices, and soon, a fitness lifestyle campus. Strada Architects Christopher Kenney and Aaron Bell will discuss the details of its adaptive reuse with attention to

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presented by Chris Kenney and Aaron Bell

After its prolonged abandonment The Delaware Generating Station designed by John Windrim has been repurposed for use as multi-family apartments, hotels, event space, offices, and soon, a fitness lifestyle campus. Strada Architects Christopher Kenney and Aaron Bell will discuss the details of its adaptive reuse with attention to its history, preservation strategies, SHPO and National Park Service reviews for Historic Tax Credits, and a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of “The Battery.” Particular attention will be paid to the architecture of the original power plant, the challenge of adapting what was fundamentally a machine to be occupied by people, preservation strategies, and a “behind the scenes” look at construction.

Christopher Kenney AIA, LEED AP, Principal. A skilled architect and sustainability consultant with more than 25 years of experience, Chris Kenney believes in the importance of sound design and construction practices. Whether adapting an historic building for a new use or designing a flexible research lab building, a collaborative educational facility, or an immersive museum exhibit, he delights in the materials, technologies, sustainability and craftsmanship associated with the practice of building. Chris has managed many large-scale projects, involving life sciences, adaptive reuse, academic facilities, and museum exhibits. He also directs the firm’s QA/QC review process. Some of his recent clients include: Temple University, Wexford Science + Technology, University City Science Center, Brandywine Realty Trust, Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds, KIPP, Convene, and Roman Catholic High School.

Aaron Bell, RA, Associate. A studio leader in design, standards, and technology, Aaron Bell is a seeker of inventive, contextual solutions to the wide range of project typologies that he is involved in. He strives to create inspiring designs for the people who will use them, and he is constantly exploring new materials and technologies. Aaron also has a deep appreciation for the historic character and urban fabric of cities and was awarded his year’s thesis prize at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple for his work on the Delaware Generating Station for which he is the project architect. Other work experience includes hospitality work for food establishments and hotels, institutional work with regional universities, and a wide range of commercial work, both new and renovations.

Treasure Philly! Rethinking Cultural Resources Preservation

April 2, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Shannon Garrison Treasure Philly! is the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s cultural resources survey pilot. Since summer 2023, the Treasure Philly! team has partnered with community members to document the history of the area around Broad, Germantown, and Erie (BGE) through storytelling and survey. The Philadelphia Historical Commission plans to expand this community-centered approach to

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presented by Shannon Garrison

Treasure Philly! is the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s cultural resources survey pilot. Since summer 2023, the Treasure Philly! team has partnered with community members to document the history of the area around Broad, Germantown, and Erie (BGE) through storytelling and survey. The Philadelphia Historical Commission plans to expand this community-centered approach to survey city-wide. This presentation will cover our work at BG&E, what we’ve learned during the pilot stage, and next steps for the Treasure Philly! project.

Shannon Garrison is a preservation planner with the Philadelphia Historical Commission. She has been involved with the Treasure Philly! project since 2020.

The People’s Commemoration in 2026

April 9, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Danielle DiLeo Kim, AIA In 2026, all eyes will be on Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. PHILADELPHIA250 is the nonprofit leading the people’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of American independence in Philadelphia in 2026. The People’s Commemoration is a new kind of milestone commemoration in which every Philadelphian feels included and

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presented by Danielle DiLeo Kim, AIA

In 2026, all eyes will be on Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. PHILADELPHIA250 is the nonprofit leading the people’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of American independence in Philadelphia in 2026. The People’s Commemoration is a new kind of milestone commemoration in which every Philadelphian feels included and neighborhoods can benefit from 250th programs that create lasting civic and social impact. Learn how a career in urban planning and design has shaped the “stoops to stadium” approach for the 250th and how a people-powered programs, place based-experiences, and purpose driven legacy projects will strengthen Philadelphia through 2026 and beyond. 

Danielle DiLeo Kim, AIA, is the President and CEO of PHILADELPHIA250. Leveraging her urban design and community engagement experience, Danielle is shaping this once-in-a-generation milestone to engage Philadelphians in their neighborhoods to deliver a “by the people, for all people” 250th. Prior to PHILADELPHIA250, Danielle was instrumental in the design and realization of institutional and cultural buildings, citywide and campus master plans, and engagement processes for community and high-level stakeholders across Philadelphia such as The Salvation Army Kroc Center, Mann Center, the Planning Commission’s Philadelphia2035, PIDC’s Lower Schuylkill Master Plan, and the original Centennial District Master Plan. She currently serves as the President-elect of AIA Philadelphia.

Lynnewood Hall – The Last American Versailles 

April 16, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Edward Thome This illustrative talk will discuss the entire history of Lynnewood Hall, including the history of the Widener Family and the future of the estate in the hands of Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation. Many photos will show the evolution of the Hall throughout the years and what its current condition is, which

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presented by Edward Thome

This illustrative talk will discuss the entire history of Lynnewood Hall, including the history of the Widener Family and the future of the estate in the hands of Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation. Many photos will show the evolution of the Hall throughout the years and what its current condition is, which is better than expected by many.  

Edward Thome is the Executive Director and a founding member of the Lynnewood Hall Preservation Foundation Inc. Having studied the estate extensively for more than fourteen years, he is resolved to realize the mission and vision of the Foundation and see the home and grounds open up for the benefit of the community both near and far.  

On Placekeeping & Preservation w/ The Friends of the Tanner House

April 23, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Christopher Rogers, Ph.D Supported by the Mellon Foundation, The Friends of the Tanner House, The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS), and a growing set of neighborhood partners embarked upon a community-centered platform for a collective vision for the Henry Ossawa Tanner House, a 2023 America’s 11 Most Endangered Places

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presented by Christopher Rogers, Ph.D

Supported by the Mellon Foundation, The Friends of the Tanner House, The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS), and a growing set of neighborhood partners embarked upon a community-centered platform for a collective vision for the Henry Ossawa Tanner House, a 2023 America’s 11 Most Endangered Places designee. The Friends of the Tanner House assembled a cohort of Philadelphia cultural workers and community partners to participate in the art-centered participatory planning process, emphasizing design justice principles and community-centered inquiries in its execution. The organization drew inspiration from poet and activist June Jordan’s inquiry process for a Harlem housing and community redesign project in the 1960s, remixed for a contemporary North Central Philadelphia audience.

Christopher R. Rogers, Ph.D currently co-coordinates the Friends of The Tanner House, incubating a revitalized Henry Ossawa Tanner House at the intersection of Black heritage preservation and community cultural organizing. He serves on the National Steering Committee for Black Lives Matter at School, spreading significant racial justice curriculum and policymaking in K-16 education. He has previously served in key roles with the Paul Robeson House & Museum / West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia Student Union, Teacher Action Group Philadelphia, and more.

The Great Challenge: The Design and Building of Girard College, 1831-2024

April 30, 2024, 6 — 7:30 PM

presented by Bruce Laverty Stephen Girard’s extraordinary testamentary bequest called for the establishment of a boarding school for “poor white male orphans.” The size of his gift and the very specific, yet incomplete, details given in his will created immediate and long-lasting legal, political educational, religious, and social justice controversies. Laverty will examine the architectural

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presented by Bruce Laverty

Stephen Girard’s extraordinary testamentary bequest called for the establishment of a boarding school for “poor white male orphans.” The size of his gift and the very specific, yet incomplete, details given in his will created immediate and long-lasting legal, political educational, religious, and social justice controversies. Laverty will examine the architectural and engineering challenges presented by the will. He will discuss the unique contributions of architect Thomas Ustick Walter and banker Nicholas Biddle, the two men responsible for transforming Girard’s intentions into bricks, mortar and marble.

In 1993 Bruce Laverty edited the first published catalog of the Girard College architectural drawings. He is founding director of the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project and the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network. In 2021 he received the Alliance’s James Biddle Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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