COUNCILMEMBER KENYATTA JOHNSON PRESENTED A CHECK FOR $250,000 TO THE MARIAN ANDERSON HOUSE AND MUSEUM

In Council News, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

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Philadelphia, Pa. (DECEMBER 14, 2022)— Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) was joined by the leadership of the Marian Anderson Historical Residence and Museum (Marian Anderson Museum) on Wednesday, December 14 to present a check for $250,000 to help the non-profit with operating expenses and to complete renovations to the facility.

Councilman Johnson was joined by Marian Anderson Museum CEO Jillian Patricia Pirtle for the check presentation at the Marian Anderson Museum in South Philadelphia.

“The late Marian Anderson is one of the most famous Philadelphians in history and played a pivotal role in American history during the Civil Rights movement and throughout her life,” Johnson said. “ The Marian Anderson Museum is an important cultural institution in Philadelphia. The Museum has been closed to the public since 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic and other events. I have been working with the Marian Anderson Museum leadership to find money from any source possible to help fix the museum and open it back up to the public as soon as possible. This latest amount of $250,000 as part of the City’s Mid-Year Transfer Ordinance for this Fiscal Year’s budget will go a long way to help the make the reopening a reality sometime in 2023. I remain committed to finding ways in the long term to help the Museum survive and thrive for years to come.”

The latest $250,000 from the City of Philadelphia is in addition to at least $105,000 the museum has received in city funding secured by Councilmember Johnson since December 2020. All of the money the Marian Anderson Museum has received through the work of Councilmember Johnson comes at a critical time for the institution.

The Marian Anderson Museum has been severely impacted since 2020. COVID-19 forced the museum to close in March 2020, eliminating admission fees that pay the bills to keep it running. The home was beset by water-related damage in 2020. Burst pipes led to flooding in the basement in the summer and heavy rains also led to the roof collapsing.

The start of the extensive repair and restoration process for the Marian Anderson Museum began in 2021. Pirtle says the Museum sustained over $491,000 worth of damage from the emergency flood disaster that happened in 2020. Due to the flooding and ongoing repairs, all tours of the museum have been done online. This will continue until all the repairs are completed.

Due to funding received from Councilmember Johnson and other sources, the Museum has been able to get some of Marian Anderson’s priceless artifacts repaired and restored. The Museum has also had a full historic conditions assessment report completed with the help of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, which fully details the damages and everything that requires repairs and restoration.

“Our great Marian Anderson is one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century for her groundbreaking exceptional music artistry and humanitarianism, “ Pirtle said. “We have faced a devastating loss due from our flooding disaster. However, we are eternally grateful that our great Councilman Kenyatta Johnson is leading the way in example of support for The Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society. We are so thankful that he understands that the Marian Anderson Museum must be restored, preserved, lifted up, and supported as a national historical landmark and cultural institution for his district, Philadelphia, and the nation for our future generations to come.”

Pirtle says the goal is to reopen the museum by Easter (April) 2023. Ms. Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 1939 (Easter Sunday). An estimated 75,000 people of all races gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to attend the concert and hundreds more listened on the radio. Her concert performance was historic and would become a pivotal moment in civil rights history. and her concert brought the nation’s attention to its segregation barriers.

The Marian Anderson Museum honors the life and legacy of the late Philadelphia opera singer Marian Anderson. Ms. Anderson purchased the South Martin Street home (also known today as “Marian Anderson Way”) in 1924, right across the street from the Union Baptist Church where she sang as a child. She owned the property until her death in 1993 at age 96.

Ms. Anderson’s modest home contains rare photos, books, memorabilia, and films about her life. The museum is run and maintained by The Marian Anderson Historical Society. The house has been declared a historical landmark by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Historical Commission and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.

For more information on the Marian Anderson Museum and to donate funds, go to www.marianandersonhistoricalsociety.weebly.com.

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