Philadelphia institutions receive grants for historic preservation

Bartram’s Garden plans to use grant funds for crucial repairs to its barn, built in 1775.
Wikimedia Commons

About a dozen historic Philadelphia institutions recently received grant funds from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Keystone Historic Preservation (KHP) Grant Program is used to fund preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration activities of historic sites that are eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Fifty four historic institutions inside the Commonwealth received these funds, 11 of which reside within Philadelphia city limits. Grants requests ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 for planning projects and $5,000 to $100,000 for construction projects; but each applicant was required to provide a 50% cash match to prove a commitment from the sponsoring organization.

Overall about $436,000 was granted to historic Philadelphia institutions. Only two groups received the maximum allotment of $100,000—the John Bartram Association (aka Bartram’s Garden) and Third, Scots and Mariners Presbyterian Church. 

At Bartram’s Garden, the grant funds will be used for crucial repairs to the county’s oldest barn, built in 1775, and the adjacent stable, built in 1743. The roofs and masonry of both are due for maintenance after centuries of wear and tear. Similarly, the Third, Scots and Mariners Presbyterian Church on Pine Street in Society Hill predates the American Revolution and will be used to repair the Old Pine Street Church’s exterior. 

All 11 historic landmarks will be using these funds to build or restore part of their infrastructure in some fashion, just as the sites are re-opening post-COVID.

“We were forced to close for much of 2020 due to the pandemic,” said Jeff Duncan of the Naomi Woods Trust. The Naomi Woods Trust received $55,788 to support the restoration of two rooms that once quartered enslaved Africans in the Woodford Mansion, located in Fairmount Park. 

“What this grant will help us do is better tell the story of the enslaved people who lived and worked at the Woodford Mansion, a story that all of us are eager to be able to tell the public because it is part of the history of Woodford, just as slavery is part of the history of America,” said Duncan. 

The Woodford Mansion is centering the experiences of the enslaved people who lived and worked there, rather than focusing on “the lives of the wealthy families who built or owned Woodford.” 

The funds to perform routine maintenance projects may not exactly be salacious, however they are vital for historic landmarks to stay relevant. The Stenton mansion in Germantown received $42,000+ to restore 10 sash windows and paint the exterior, renovations which will allow future generations to see the home of James Logan, William Penn’s Secretary. 

Grumblethorpe in Germantown has fought to exist since 1930 and was a driving force in the movement to preserve local landmarks. Through the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, Grumblethorpe received $18,675 “to replace the museum and Tenant House roofs” built in 1742. 

Of 92 applicants for the Keystone Historic Preservation (KHP) Grant Program, 54 received funding. In total, more than $2,300,000 was distributed to preserve historic landmarks throughout the Commonwealth. 


Philadelphia Grant Recipients

Cliveden of the National Trust – $24,923

Cranaleith Spiritual Center – $11,344

Glen Foerd Conservation Corp. – $14,266

Historic RittenhouseTown Inc. – $32,674

John Bartram Association (aka Bartram’s Garden) – $100,000

Naomi Wood Trust – $55,788

Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks – $18,675

The National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Pennsylvania – $42,315

Third, Scots and Mariners Presbyterian Church – $100,000

Trinity Episcopal Memorial Church – $11,890

Wagner Free Institute of Science – $25,000