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#ThisPlaceMatters: The Painted Bride

On September 14, 2018, I provided public comment in support of the Magic Gardens' nomination of the Painted Bride building for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

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#ThisPlaceMatters: The Painted Bride

  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. Mural Arts’ “Ridge on the Rise” mural adorns the historic landmark. I am director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project that is mapping Philadelphia’s jazz history. We have documented hundreds of historic resources including the Painted Bride Art Center whose Jazz on Vine was the longest, continually running jazz series in Philadelphia. 230 Vine Street is associated with an institution that exemplifies the cultural, political, economic and social heritage of Philadelphia. It is telling that the property owner does not dispute the historical significance of the building. Instead, their objection is based on fear that historic designation will reduce the market value of the property. However, “financial hardship,” such as it is, is not the issue before the Commission today. If the owner wants to claim “financial hardship,” a review process must be followed. The issue before the Commission is whether the Painted Bride meets one or more criteria for historic designation. The Committee on Historic Designation got it right when they voted unanimously to add 230 Vine Street to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. To no one’s surprise, the property owner’s structural engineer found that “due to the mural’s condition, falling pieces presented a safety issue.” The owner raised the red herring that the mosaic “presents a danger to the public.” However, a cursory check with L&I shows there are no violations.
  2. 2. The property owner’s concern about the safety of 230 Vine Street is situational. For historic designation purposes, the owner has taken “interim measures” and put out yellow caution tape. For programming purposes, the Bride puts out the welcome mat. A week ago, the Bride invited the public to its First Friday opening of an exhibition that will be on view until October 20. Also last week, the Bride announced its 2018 Micro Residency Artists and noted “these talented individuals and organizations will be sharing space with us at 230 Vine Street for the remainder of 2018.” 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.” I support the Magic Gardens’ nomination of this landmark for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Thank you.