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#ThisPlaceMatters - The Painted Bride - Philadelphia Historical Commission

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Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens nominated the Painted Bride for historic designation and listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The nomination was on the agenda for the July 13, 2018 meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission but the Painted Bride Art Center has asked for a continuance. These are the comments I would have made at the meeting.

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#ThisPlaceMatters - The Painted Bride - Philadelphia Historical Commission

  1. 1. My name is Faye Anderson. I am a lifelong activist and citizen preservationist who has fought to save historic buildings from demolition including 2125 Ridge Avenue, the former location of the Checker Café. As director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project, I have documented hundreds of jazz-related sites. Sadly, in this so-called “World Heritage City,” developers are erasing Philadelphia’s musical history from public memory with impunity. Last month, the childhood home of opera singer Mario Lanza was demolished. In 2015, Union Baptist Church, where world-renowned contralto Marian Anderson learned to sing, met a similar fate. A 12-inch façade is all that remains of the Royal Theater. There is a hole in the ground where Philadelphia International Records and Benny the Bum’s Night Club used to be. The Painted Bride is one of the last vestiges of Philadelphia’s jazz heyday. While the Bride is, as the property owner says, “more than brick and mortar,” the Committee on Historic Designation unanimously found the building in which the Bride is housed meets several criteria for historic designation. In the interest of time, I will focus on Criterion (j). The “real truth” is that 230 Vine Street is associated with an institution that exemplifies the cultural, political, economic and social heritage of Philadelphia.
  2. 2. In a Facebook post on June 28, 2018, Spoken Word Poet and Recording Artist Ursula Rucker wrote: “This place/space has created and invited opportunity and equity for those that are often overlooked and disregarded...ARTISTS. … This spirit of this place/space is Divine! Blessed! SPECIAL!” The spirit of this place is mirrored on the exterior. As I noted in my comments before the Committee on Historic Designation, the façade is the background in every staff photo on the Bride’s website. In 1993, Gerry Givnish, then-executive director of the Bride, told the Philadelphia Daily News: “Zagar’s weird art has given the Painted Bride near landmark status.” There is nothing more to say other than the Commission should make explicit that which is implicit and add the Painted Bride to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Thank you.

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