May 19, 2010

A $329,500 grant from the William Penn Foundation will provide for the restoration and repurposing of the Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia's Old City.

According to a news release, the Neighborhood House is a home for the arts and community venue for special events and receptions, theater and dance productions, meetings and workshops, as well as other activities.

The grant came to the Christ Church Preservation Trust, a non-profit organization created in 1965, to ensure the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of historic Christ Church, the Neighborhood House and the Christ Church Burial Ground. The trust launched a $10 million capital campaign to ensure that Christ Church remains "a living and growing historical institution," the release said.

The 28-month grant will fund the installation of air conditioning, theater lighting in the third-floor performance space, and purchase of a portable dance floor, which the release said are initiatives of the capital campaign.

"The grant gives Christ Church the opportunity to not only preserve the venerable Neighborhood House at Christ Church, but to also repurpose the building to play a crucial role as a cultural venue," Donald Smith, executive director for Christ Church Preservation Trust, said in the release. "This project will expand the scope of offerings at Neighborhood House to enhance the experience of visitors and neighbors and better serve the community, and the parish, as it was originally designed to do."

Renovation of Neighborhood House began in 2006 and to date has included safety and electrical improvements, installation of risers, a new atrium entry, and renovated space, the release said, adding that the William Penn Foundation has supported the development of the theater at Neighborhood House since 2000, including the installation of an elevator and efforts to make the building handicapped accessible.