By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A statewide preservation group is helping to beef up local efforts to save the legendary Blue Horizon boxing gymnasium in North Philadelphia.
For fifty years, the North Broad Street arena hosted boxing matches, offering spectators a view unlike anywhere else in the country.
Located near Broad and Master Streets, the building began in 1865 as brownstone homes for the wealthy, and was eventually converted into a Moose Lodge in 1914.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that a new owner ushered in decades of boxing history, renaming the venue “The Legendary Blue Horizon.”
“It’s history is not commonly recognized,” notes Erin Hammerstedt, who works for Preservation Pennsylvania. She says that while the nonprofit group can’t offer money, they’ll work to keep the Blue Horizon from being demolished.
Mosaic Development Partners has a proposal to turn the property into a hotel, which would get rid of the arena but keep the 19th-century façade. Principal Greg Reaves says to keep the entire building intact would kill the project.
“It’s millions of difference in the cost and hundreds of thousands of difference in annual operations,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Blue Horizon co-owner Vernoca Michael is happy for the help to preserve the building but wants to move forward with the project.
“My vision right now is to sell it,” she acknowledges.
The property is not on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, which limits government powers to stop the demolition.