Help Germantown win $150K from AmEx to preserve its historic properties - Generocity Philly

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Oct. 25, 2017 12:57 pm

Help Germantown win $150K from AmEx to preserve its historic properties

Germantown United CDC's entry is currently in first place in a national competition of historic main streets. Vote five times per day through Tuesday, Oct. 31, to keep it there.

5706 Germantown Ave. (painted blue), one of the historic sites in need of preservation.

(Photo by Monique Brand)

Editor's note: The addresses listed for each historic property were incorrectly matched in an earlier version of this story; it has been corrected. (10/27, 2:12 p.m.)
It’s always exciting when a local org gets national attention. It’s extra exciting when that attention comes with thousands of dollars attached.

Germantown’s “main street,” aka Germantown Avenue, is a finalist in a national voting competition of 25 preservation projects through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Geographic and American Express, which is contributing $2 million in winnings. An undisclosed number of top vote-getters will receive $150,000 toward preserving local historic properties.

Germantown’s entry was proposed by Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) and includes two sites: Parker Hall (5801 Germantown Ave.), also known as the ACES Museum for Black and Minority Veterans of WWII, and John Trower’s building (5706 Germantown Ave.). Both buildings were built in the 1870s and house active businesses.

Here what its official entry reads:

“It’s time to open doors in Germantown. This project will provide facade and structural improvements to significant 20th-century African-American historic sites. Replacing these facades will bolster Germantown and increase community pride.”

Voting is open to members of the public, who can cast five votes per day through Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Vote here

Commercial Corridor Manager Emaleigh Doley said the National Trust reached out to the CDC about entering the competition — and “of course we were interested, but we had to come up with a specific project proposal that spoke to the grant requirement. We were looking for a compelling story to tell, but also maximize the impact on the business district.”

Both building need critical repairs. The ACES Museum, for instance, is currently closed because of the amount of work needed to maintain the building.

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The museum is also one of Historic Germantown’s 16 historic member sites. That organization was also recently up for $150,000 as a finalist of Lodestar Foundation’s Collaboration Prize, but didn’t end up winning.

“Germantown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the country,” Doley said. “It’s a neighborhood that has a lot of historic sites, but it also shows how you can effectively reuse historic buildings for today’s purposes. Germantown feels very special and part of that is the historic architecture that exists here. Anything we can do to fix these buildings and keep them updated so they can serve the public today is really important.”

GUCDC has already been awarded $10,000 for having the highest percentage increase of votes from the start of the competition, according to Doley. But it’s looking good for Germantown to win the full $150,000: As of Wednesday afternoon, it was in first place.

“Our personal goal has always been to get within the top five, so we’re absolutely over the moon to see today that we’re in the number one spot,” Doley said — “but people should not stop voting.”

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