Press Release

Heritage Philadelphia Program to Award Over $1 Million for History Programs and Historic Preservation

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The Heritage Philadelphia Program (HPP) announces grants totaling $1,010,112—the largest amount awarded since the program's inception ten years ago—to nine cultural organizations in the Philadelphia area for outstanding projects in interpretive history programming and historic preservation. This year's grant recipients are: Fairmount Park Art Association*, Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial*, Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, Pearl S. Buck International, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program*, Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Rosenbach Museum & Library, The Village of Arts and Humanities*, and West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance*. (This year's first-time awardees are indicated by an asterisk.)

Full descriptions of each project and the individual grant amounts can be found below.

“The Heritage Philadelphia Program emphasizes projects which make the connection between present-day life and the past, making history come alive for audiences,” notes Heritage Philadelphia Program Director Paula Marincola. “This year, we expanded the notion of heritage to include social history, folklore, and civic engagement work as well as other forms of living cultural heritage. It's gratifying to witness our community's response to our efforts in the form of such dynamic programs, and we are especially delighted to have so many first-time applicants also become first-time grantees of HPP.”

HPP funding is awarded annually on a competitive basis, and grant recipients are selected by a distinguished national panel of experts in the fields of museum and historic site management, preservation architecture, exhibitions and interpretive programming.  This year, the panel included:

  • Dan Spock, Director of the History Center Museum, The Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, who served as panel chair
  • Craig Barton, Chair of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia, Richmond 
  • Tom Hotaling, Designer and Principal at Ann Beha Architects in Boston, MA
  • Kathleen Hulser, Public Historian at the New-York Historical Society, NYC
  • Allyson Nakamoto, Teacher Programs Manager for the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA
  • Patricia West, co-director of the Center for Applied Historical Research at the University at Albany, State University of New York; Curator for the National Park Service at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, NY; and Adjunct Professor in the Public History Graduate Program at the University at Albany
  • Steve Zeitlin, Director and co-founder of City Lore, NYC

The Heritage Philadelphia Program 2008 grantee projects are as follows:

  • Fairmount Park Art Association ($96,612) to develop a plan for an interactive, audio interpretation of public sculptures in Philadelphia, informed by experts in documentary studies and folklore. These audio “labels” will expand upon traditional narratives and formats to tell the social history and unique stories behind the public artworks “on the street,” in the environment and context of city life.
  • Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial ($65,000) to develop a Preservation Plan for their historic buildings on Catharine Street in Philadelphia. Fleisher's buildings include three row homes, the former Martin's College for Indigent Boys and the former Church of the Evangelist. The Preservation Plan will allow the organization to plan for short- and long-term stewardship of the buildings, both to preserve their historical value and enhance their usefulness as program space for Fleisher's community-based arts programming.
  • Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery ($200,000) to implement the Urban Mourning Project, a history-based, long-term arts education program intended to help middle-school age children in city neighborhoods affected by violence confront their grief constructively, through creative expression. This project draws on the history of 19th century mourning customs, ritual and memorials and connects them to present day expressions; it will result in a culminating performance and/or an installation at Laurel Hill Cemetery.
  • Pearl S. Buck International ($166,100) to continue preservation work on the Pearl S. Buck House, a National Historic Landmark and the home for 40 years of author and international adoption activist Pearl S. Buck. Among other outcomes, the structural work on the property will allow visitors to once again enter Buck's currently inaccessible second floor bedroom, where many important pieces in the house's collection are located.
  • Philadelphia Mural Arts Program ($22,400) to plan a community history project using individual and community histories, art, media, and stories to explore how immigration has affected a community over time and today. The project will be based in neighborhoods in either South Philadelphia or West Philadelphia and will be informed by historical research and oral history interviews with area residents.
  • Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia ($100,000) to engage in a planning process to prepare for the development of a major Preservation Plan and Historic Resources Survey for the city of Philadelphia. The city of Philadelphia has never had either an historic preservation plan or a citywide survey of historic resources, and the Preservation Alliance estimates that only 4% of the properties in the city have ever been evaluated in terms of their significance. The plan and survey will be an important step in establishing broad public and governmental support for historic preservation in Philadelphia. The planning also involves a team of historians who will develop a historical context statement for the history and physical development of the city.
  • Rosenbach Museum & Library ($200,000) will implement “21st Century Abe,” a website and blog that will interpret Abraham Lincoln's legacy for an audience in their teens and twenties. The project is based on the Rosenbach's collection of rare and significant Lincoln materials, including drafts of his House Divided Speech and the Baltimore Address. The website will provide a variety of scholarly and artistic interpretations of these materials and will be fully participatory, allowing new audiences to design their own interpretations as well as participate in a dialogue about Lincoln through a moderated blog.
  • The Village of Arts and Humanities ($60,000) will engage in a preservation planning process to develop a strategy for restoring the “Village Heart” area, which includes several parks, performance spaces, gardens, murals, mosaics, sculptures, seating, and fencing in North Philadelphia. Other goals for the project include strengthening the area's use for programs and investigating ways to become a demonstration project for urban sustainability.
  • West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance ($100,000) to continue critical preservation and restoration work on the Paul Robeson House at 4951 Walnut Street, the last residence of this important African-American artist and activist. In addition to serving as a home for the interpretation of Robeson's legacy, the property is used by the WPCA as a community center for neighborhood arts education. Preservation work on the building will also enable WPCA to move forward with plans to develop the interpretation of the Robeson House further, including new exhibitions and audio and video installations.

The Heritage Philadelphia Program (HPP) is located at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the University of the Arts.  HPP supports history exhibits and public programs and the preservation and public interpretation of significant historic buildings in the region. Grants of up to $200,000 are awarded annually to projects that fit within the guidelines, goals and outcomes of the Program. Support is provided through these grants as well as through professional development activities designed to inspire engaging, mission-focused and audience-centered programming and to foster greater organizational capacity. HPP encourages imaginative, experiential, and substantive interpretive programming that is grounded in contemporary scholarship and incorporates active audience involvement. Since it was established in 1998, the Heritage Philadelphia Program has supported 92 grants through its panel process, investing just over $6.1 million in history projects in the five-county region.


Opened in November 2005, the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) houses seven existing initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts. These programs are dedicated to assisting cultural organizations in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region in developing high-quality public programs and effective management practices. PCAH is the home of Dance Advance, Heritage Philadelphia Program, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Music Project, and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. The Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. For more information, visit www.pcah.us.

The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share a commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its 2,300 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. Its history as a leader in educating creative individuals spans more than 130 years. For further information about The University of the Arts call 215.717.6000, or visit www.uarts.edu.

Media Contact

Cindy Jobbins