[‘FREEDOM CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT THE CONCEPT OF ORDER’]
The Francis M. Drexel School (1888) at 16th and Moore is coming down, according to the good folks at stresslines.org and thedrexelschool.org. The latter site is a fascinating yet perplexing compendium of Francis M. Drexel School materials–blueprints, overviews, quotes on the value of preservation, Drexel family genealogies, information on historic preservation tax credits, “uptown plans”, addresses by late Drexel University president Constantine Papadakis, and advertisements for Newbold Court, the higher end development to occupy the site. It’s tough to piece it all together–whether or not someone really cared about saving portions of the Queen Anne structure and incorporating it into the new development. It’s all pretty nebulous because I can’t tell who–or what–writes thedrexelschool.org.
The fall of the Drexel School signals that something is going on in “Newbold”–the equally amorphous designation given to a wide swathe of what was formerly Point Breeze. Truly, New?Bold! sounds like a marketing slogan first and a place second. It was named after that captivating 19th century Philadelphian, banker and broker Arthur Emlen Newbold. This isn’t to say that there’s much in a name. I knew the guy personally who invented “G-Ho” who got into scrapes with others who wanted to call this ‘hood Anderson Yards after Marian Anderson. Naming is power and the long section from Washington Ave. to Passyunk Ave. where housing prices creep upward is now a separatist state. While violence has diminished in places like Newbold, skirmishes do still break out between ‘pioneers‘ and more indigenous populations. This particular map shows how South Philly east and west of Broad looks like Metternich’s Europe: a tight network of mutually-reinforcing CDCs, civic associations, and newly minted neighborhoods asserting themselves for the sake of peace and stability.
More photos of the Drexel School from December 2007.