We are thrilled to learn that the Marian Anderson Historical Society
(MAHS) is among this year’s recipients of grant support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund
(AACHAF). The $75k award will help fund exterior envelope restoration of Marian Anderson’s c.1870 house in South Philadelphia. The Action Fund is a highly competitive, national program. Established in 2017, the Fund in its short tenure has established itself as one of the nation’s leading promoters and supporters of Black history and associated sites.
For the past eight months, we have been assisting MAHS as they pursued a Conditions Assessment and Historic Structures Report (as prepared by Philadelphia-based Preservation Design Partnership and its founding principal, Dominique Hawkins, and funded by Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust and a previous commitment from the Action Fund). Amid the early months of the pandemic, the property suffered both flooding and ceiling damage, added pressures to an already deeply challenging year for public programming and museum spaces. The proposed scope of work includes a new roof, masonry repairs, and historically appropriate new window and doors.
Celebrated American contralto Marian Anderson primarily resided in the house at 762 S. Martin St from 1924 to 1943. It was during this period that Anderson’s then fledgling career took flight, and Anderson became both an internationally recognized vocalist and cultural figure of the American Civil Rights movement. Her 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied by the Daughters of the American Revolution to perform at nearby Constitution Hall, is recognized as one of the most significant musical performances and gestures of racial solidarity of the twentieth century. Listed on both the Philadelphia and National Registers of Historic Places, the home is a physical testament to Anderson’s life and legacy.
We are hugely grateful to AACHAF and their Executive Director Brent Leggs for recognizing and supporting this important Philadelphia site, and to MAHS Executive Director Jillian Pirtle, who has lovingly stewarded the property since 2018. We very much look forward to this next phase of work and helping ensure that the Marian Anderson House remains a loved and supported site of local and national significance.