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News > Member News > Preservation Alliance Appeals Planned Demolition of Historic Friends Hospital Building

Preservation Alliance Appeals Planned Demolition of Historic Friends Hospital Building

City Health Department seeks to construct medical center on centuries-old site in Northeast
Lawnside (1859) at Friends Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia. Photo: PHC Application Materials
Lawnside (1859) at Friends Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia. Photo: PHC Application Materials

Philadelphia (Sept 2023) – The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and several community partners have appealed the Historical Commission's decision to permit demolition of an historic building in Northeast Philadelphia.

Located on the Friends Hospital site, the 19th century Victorian cottage, “Lawnside” stands in the way of a multi-acre medical center that the City hopes to build.

“Lawnside is among Friends Hospital's early buildings,” said Paul Steinke, Alliance Executive Director. “It contributes to the historic character of the park-like property that is on the Local historic register as well as a National Historic Landmark. The great front lawn of Friends has been open space since its founding more than two-hundred years ago, and this building of Wissahickon schist retains its structural integrity and should be restored and repurposed.”

Joining the Preservation Alliance appeal is the Northwood Civic Association, the local Registered Community Organization for the area; St James Lutheran Church on Caster Ave; and St. Mark's Church Frankford.

Friends Hospital is the nation's oldest private psychiatric hospital, established in 1813. Located on 100-acres bounded by Roosevelt Blvd, Whitaker Ave and Frankford Creek, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. The founding Quakers originally called it “The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason.” The Alliance and supporters are counting on the City Health Department to use reason and find a different site for the medical center.

“Roosevelt Boulevard is one of Philadelphia's most dangerous roads for pedestrians,” said Steinke. “Most of the people who will use the clinic will arrive by bus and be forced to cross twelve lanes of traffic. The Health Department has not made public the other locations under consideration, but it's not likely they feature a 170-year house.”

The Alliance expects a hearing date soon with the Board of License and Inspection Review.

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia actively promotes the appreciation, protection, and revitalization of the Philadelphia region's historic buildings, communities, and landscapes. A 501c3 non-profit membership organization, the Alliance leads in setting the agenda for preservation issues of regional importance and advocates strong public preservation policies. It was formed in 1996 from the merger of the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation (1979), a nonprofit corporation formed to guide investment dollars into historic renovation projects through tax and other financial incentives; and the Preservation Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (1982), dedicated to preservation advocacy. Visit www.preservationalliance.com.

For information contact Paul Steinke, [email protected], 215.472.5809

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