SlideShare utilise les cookies pour améliorer les fonctionnalités et les performances, et également pour vous montrer des publicités pertinentes. Si vous continuez à naviguer sur ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de cookies. Consultez nos Conditions d’utilisation et notre Politique de confidentialité.
SlideShare utilise les cookies pour améliorer les fonctionnalités et les performances, et également pour vous montrer des publicités pertinentes. Si vous continuez à naviguer sur ce site, vous acceptez l’utilisation de cookies. Consultez notre Politique de confidentialité et nos Conditions d’utilisation pour en savoir plus.
Nomination of 20-24 N. 40th Street
Powelton Hotel, Powelton Café
Committee on Historic Designation
Philadelphia Historical Commission
I am director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project that is
documenting and contextualizing Philadelphia’s jazz history. Since the project was
launched in 2013, we have mapped hundreds of sites including the Powelton Café & Music
I am writing in support of the nomination of 20-24 N. 40th Street for listing in the
Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The nomination satisfies Criterion A in that the
property is associated with Dr. Alfred C. Barnes, an entrepreneur, art collector, educator
and humanitarian. The world’s foremost collector of post-Impressionist art, Dr. Barnes also
collected African art and works by African Americans including Horace C. Pippin.
Dr. Barnes defied social norms at his factory where he exposed his racially integrated
workforce to fine art. A champion of social justice, Dr. Barnes supported art education
programs for African American students. In his will, he left control of his priceless art
collection to historically-black Lincoln University.
20-24 N. 40th Street is also the former location of the Powelton Café & Music Bar. As one of
the few extant buildings associated with Philadelphia’s golden age of jazz, the property
satisfies Criterion J, i.e., exemplifies the cultural, economic and social heritage of the
The Powelton Café played host to, among others, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah
Washington and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. The Powelton Café was featured on radio
broadcasts by WHAT-1340AM. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHAT was “the first
U.S. radio station to hire a full-time black announcer, the first to program a regular show
featuring a black woman as hostess and the first station in the city to hire black
newscasters. It also was the first in the nation to feature a black as host of a daily talk
In his book, Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation, Drexel
University Prof. Alphonso McClendon wrote:
The influence of Harlem and the legendary Cotton Club with its extravagant
floor shows of light-skinned chorus girls are noted in the previous
descriptions, as well as the naming of the Ridge Cotton Club along the Ridge
Avenue entertainment district. In addition, the ubiquitous title of café …
implied inspiration from Europe and the desire to accentuate superior social
mingling [emphasis added].
The Powelton Café was one of dozens of nightclubs that existed over the course of
Philadelphia’s jazz heyday (roughly 1930s to 1960s). Professor McClendon
In sum, the African American music landscape signified a workshop of
cultural aesthetics that thrived socially outside of the white mainstream
culture, yet geographically inside. This entertainment imprint through the
branding of bars, cafés and theaters demonstrated vicissitudes in the setting,
style, structure, depiction and patronage of the music. Indeed, this unique
period of ragtime, blues, swing and bebop was, as scripted by Irene’s Café,
“filled with scenes of happy men and women.” Live music, fashion, social
hierarchy and jazz vernacular pulsed in Philadelphia. The significance of
these venues is that they provided a space where people accessed joy and
experienced sophistication, equally responding to the racial environment and
transforming neighborhood culture. A history of Philadelphia is incomplete
without the narrative of these establishments.
20-24 N. 40th Street meets the criteria for designation. Accordingly, the Committee on
Historic Designation should recommend the property for listing in the Philadelphia
Register of Historic Places.
Faye M. Anderson
Faye M. Anderson
All That Philly Jazz