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Philadelphia Historical Commission Wields New Power — Indoors

(File photo)

(File photo)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s Historical Commission did something today it has never done before — designate the interior of a building as historic.

Prompted by the efforts to save the endangered Boyd Theatre at 19th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia City Council last winter passed a bill that expands the mandate of the city’s Historical Commission, giving the commission the power for the first time to designate interiors, not just exteriors, as historic.

John Gallery of the nonprofit group Preservation Alliance thinks it’s an important change.

“Philadelphia has buildings that have amazing interior spaces,” he said.  “In recent years there have been great concerns about whether some of these spaces would be lost.”

And today, the commission used its new power for first time, designating the interior of City Council chambers (in photo above) as historic.

Public Property commissioner Joan Schlotterbeck is thrilled.

“This is one of the most remarkable spaces in the building (City Hall),” she said.  “And for us to be taking this huge step — not only designating the interior space but also the objects — is extremely important to the city.”
Gallery and other preservationists hope that designations for key private buildings, including perhaps the Boyd, could follow.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn.