Last week I built a spreadsheet based on an NPS model to help organize and construct cases for the countless LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia, among other things. This week, I focused primarily on filling in that spreadsheet, which meant focusing on specific spaces I've found between my own research, Bob Skiba's Philadelphia LGBT mapping project, Marc Stein's City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves, and a number of related scholarly articles. I worked on professional development, filling out the clearance documentation to work in the NPS office, and finalizing details for my internship contract between myself, Temple University, and the Park Service. I also indicated I will attend a PA LGBT History Network meeting at the Wililiam Way Community Center in a few weeks. Finally, I kept up-to-date on current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community.
Regarding the spreadsheet, the headings for each column are as follows: Resource Name, Whether the space is a private residence, Location, Significance and Comments, Current Preservation Status, Relevant Theme Study Chapters, Applicable NPS Systematic Framework Themes, and Building/Property Type. Adequately filling in a site's significance with sufficient comments has been the most time-consuming aspect of this work. Doing so requires accessing resources to develop a site's larger narrative, and subsequently condensing that into something that succinctly makes a case for that site's importance. This also includes determining a period of significance for the respective site. There are currently sixty-six sites listed, though as time goes on that number will diminish.
Of the sixty-six sites listed on the spreadsheet currently, twenty-four have their significance/comments sections filled. I contributed fifteen of those, the other nine came from Susan Ferentinos' (a colleague at the Park Service) spreadsheet, as her work needs to be included. As I continue this work I expect there will be some sites without enough information behind them to be nominated, and as those arise I will remove them from the list. Another next step for this project will be traveling to these addresses and assessing their integrity. In other words, are the original buildings still there? For a number of sites already on my list the answer is no, but some of those have strong enough narratives that I believe they could be nominated for a state marker or something else at a later date. For example, Little Pete's, which was once Dewey's (which I discussed at length last week), is slated for demolition in the coming months, but I am confident that a well constructed nomination form would earn the site a state commemorative marker. A few of the sites I have focused on for the spreadsheet this week include: The Attic (a popular Black gay bar in the 1960s and 1970s), Rusty's Bar (a popular lesbian bar), the William Way Community Center (the first major LGBT community center in Philadelphia which has a 40+ year history), Rittenhouse Square Park (part of the Rittenhouse Historic District and a popular social space for LGBT Philadelphians since before World War II), The Gilded Cage and The Humoresque (popular gay coffee shops), Germantown/Mt. Airy, and Harry Langhorne and Bessie Smith's homes.
Regarding the meeting at the William Way Community Center on the 16th, I received an email from Mike Doveton at Independence National Historical Park earlier this week. He reached out to let me know about this as an opportunity to make some substantial connections with people engaged in similar work to mine throughout Pennsylvania. The agenda for the PA LGBT History Network meeting lists presentations/discussions from Susan Ferentinos on the NPS LGBT National Historic Landmark identification project, and Bob Skiba on a potential Philadelphia LGBT historic mapping project. I am curious what Skiba's potential mapping project might entail and how, or if, it connects to his extant mapping project. Meeting and connecting with Susan Ferentinos is a fabulous opportunity, as I have already seen some of the work she has contributed to the Park Service's national LGBT NHL project.
In terms of current events in Philadelphia's LGBT Community, I received an interesting article from the Inquirer on how frequent customers at Little Pete's (which was Dewey's in the 1960s) remember the restaurant now that it has closed at it's 17th Street location. The article was full of fond memories with families and the employees that go back decades. For me, this emphasized what a social staple Little Pete's was for people who lived in that area. I was thankful that the Inquirer took the time to document those personal histories.
As I suspected last Friday, Philadelphia Gay News did cover the Town Hall that took place last Thursday at the William Way Community Center. In an article on Monday, PGN addressed the transparency Amber Hikes and the Office of LGBT Affairs strove for in the meeting, discussing Sharron Cooks' dismissal, how difficult that was for Hikes and the Office, and how the Office is adamant about moving forward with Community Conversations like last week's to better connect with and serve the Community. The article also emphasized the meeting's positive and empowering tone, the future collaborations and projects the Office is taking on to support the Community, and upcoming events that Hikes disclosed at the meeting. One such event is a Pride Month Kick-Off next Friday, June 9th, at 3:30PM at City Hall that I intend to attend.