Friday, August 21, 2009

Inventory of Historic Sites

This summer, I've been working with the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia on a project to update and expand its inventory of African American historic sites in the city.

Starting from a list created about 10 years ago, I've expanded the Alliance's inventory to include nearly 500 sites around Philadelphia that have connections to the city's rich African American heritage. I have a few more steps to complete, and then the inventory will be ready to post on the Alliance's web site as a searchable database.

Of course, some of what I did this summer was simply to organize the information into a easy-to-use format. The original list included some 350 historic sites, and I incorporated the research done by historian Emily Cooperman for the Alliance about historic African American churches.

I then tracked down details for all the sites on building dates and architects, historic designations, and historic markers. I'll save a future post for a re-cap of some of my most-used digital resources for tracking down information about Philadelphia properties.

These days, I've been wandering the city with a camera in my bag, taking photos of inventory sites for our planned web site. Here are a couple of my recent images, both related to the historic Shiloh Baptist congregation.

The top image is Shiloh Baptist's first home at 609 S. Clifton Street, near 10th and South Streets. Now home to the Waters Memorial AME Church, the building dates to about 1840 and is a rare surviving example of a church built for an African American congregation during this period. The building is now listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Shiloh Baptist remained at this location until about 1890, when it moved a few blocks west to a bigger building at 1112-1120 Lombard Street (bottom image). According to Cooperman, the congregation's second building is similar in age to its first home, and had previously been home to an Episcopal congregation, the Church of the Ascension.

In 1945, the Shiloh Baptist congregation moved west again, purchasing the stunning church property at 2040 Christian Street. (Shiloh's former home on Lombard Street has since been altered for secular use, as you can see in the photo.)

Shiloh Baptist's current home (sorry, no photo yet) was built for the Church of the Holy Apostles congregation in 1868-1870 by the architectural firm of Fraser, Furness and Hewitt. The church is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and included in the Census of Stained Glass Windows in America. The Sunday School building is considered one of the finest examples of its kind in the U.S. If you missed the Hidden City event at Shiloh earlier this summer, check out this series of photos from the interior.

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