This week I submitted my fourth invoice, summarizing work completed between June 20th and July 17th, I continued photographing many of the sites on the Philadelphia LGBTQ historic sites spreadsheet I compiled, I continued developing a new outreach project following the previous one’s memory mapping theme but utilizing social media and digital tools to reach a broader audience, and I learned much more about the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in connection with my contact in Boston. Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and Shaun Eyring to discuss how I have met the conditions of my internship per my internship contract.
Tuesday, I was in the office and continued my work developing a proposal for a new community outreach project. As mentioned briefly last week, I am planning a second memory mapping project, this time utilizing social media (specifically a Facebook group for LGBTQ+ Philadelphians) and a digital mapping tool called Carto. I will be asking participants, “Where in Philly has been the most important place for you as an LGBTQ individual?” I will subsequently take their responses, including whatever stories they feel comfortable sharing, and place them on the Carto map. Carto is a digital mapping tool that allows for greater data visualization than Google Maps. Participants’ names will be kept anonymous, but their stories will be a significant part of this project. Ultimately, I hope to create a more populated map than I did at PrideFest, and this project will likely go on for roughly a month to maximize time for participation. Based on the specific responses I receive from those who engage with this project, I will connect the sites that matter to them with sites possessing similar histories to interest them in the larger LGBTQ+ Heritage Initiative. Thus, if they are interested in the larger project, I will keep them updated on its progress as things go forward. During a brief meeting with Bonnie on Tuesday, she outlined some of the institutional boundaries I will need to circumvent in conducting this project, and she suggested I schedule a meeting with Catherine, a colleague in the office. Catherine is currently dealing with similar issues in projects that require participant feedback, and I will be meeting with her on Tuesday to discuss how I can best conduct the project to avoid any institutional taboos.
Also on Tuesday, I heard from a colleague in Boston asking me about how viable NRHP or NHL nomination forms or documentation from HABS would be as indirect interpretation resources. I had only just learned what HABS did as a program and dove into researching more about how one documented a site through HABS and what that ultimately did for the site. During my meeting with Bonnie I asked about what the difference was in terms of historical interpretation between HABS and NRHP/NHL nominations, and she explained that HABS, per its original intent, is not meant for any interpretation. It serves solely to document a building’s historical and architectural significance. That being said, we both recently received news from Megan Springate in D.C. about a HABS study that interpreted D.C.’s LGBTQ history, which was a significant deviation from HABS’s traditional mission.
Wednesday, I once again took to the streets, photographing additional sites from the spreadsheet. This time, the sites I photographed were those I believe hold strictly local significance. This included places like the Bike Stop, the Barracks, and Horizon House. The Bike Stop is a bar that has been home to Philadelphia’s gay and lesbian leather community since 1982. In 1983, the bar began hosting the annual Mr. Philadelphia Leather competition, and in 1993 began the Mrs. Philadelphia Leather competition. Both competitions were suspended in 2009, but were reestablished in 2015. I was fortunate enough to meet 2017’s Mrs. Philadelphia Leather winner in passing at PrideFest while conducting the first Memory Mapping project! The Barracks was a Philadelphia bath house from 1976-1980. It looks like the property remains true to the original structure from that period, despite all of the ongoing revitalization efforts that surround it. Horizon House was significant in the 1970s as the primary meeting place for Philadelphia Gay Rights organizations like the Radical Queens and the Gay Activists Alliance. Prior to the original property’s demolition, Horizon House became the PAIN Center. It is now a physical therapy center. Thursday, I uploaded the new photos to the spreadsheet and Google Map.
Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Helen, Bonnie, and Shaun to discuss how I have done in meeting the tasks as set forth in my internship contract. As a reminder, those tasks were as follows: 1) Develop an exhibit that will feature information about the NPS current LGBTQ sites, landmarks, and history as a community engagement tool; 2) Assessment of LGBTQ Sites for Preservation in Philadelphia; and 3) Develop a Community Engagement Model. The first task remains in development, but the conversation surrounding my work on the spreadsheet for assessing LGBTQ sites and both of my memory mapping projects was both optimistic and fruitful. Although I currently await feedback from the folks conducting internal review on the list, the four of us in the meeting discussed next steps when the time comes for an external review within Philadelphia’s preservation community as well as within the LGBTQ community. Regarding the memory mapping projects, it seems the digital mapping project I propose will be more complex than anticipated, but those complications only increase the potential the project holds. I will need to establish a project group with whom to discuss and troubleshoot the project before I initiate contact within the Facebook community.
All in all it has been a fantastic and productive week, and I remain as optimistic and enthusiastic as ever towards the work I continue doing on this initiative.