The Obstacles To Preserving Joe Frazier’s Gym


"Joe Frazier trained for his 1971 victory against Muhammad Ali at his gym on N. Broad St." |Photo: Philadelphia Business Journal

“Joe Frazier trained for his 1971 victory against Muhammad Ali at his gym on N. Broad St.” |Photo: Philadelphia Business Journal

  • The Philadelphia Business Journal looks at the inherent difficulties in preserving Joe Frazier’s gym on North Broad Street, which Temple University students failed to get listed on the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Register of Historic Places. Urban Land Institute Philadelphia has released a report in which it deems any dreams of resuscitating any active gym at the location as a nonstarter; the most that preservationists can hope for is a philanthropic buyer renovating the site and stuffing it with memorabilia from the boxer’s storied career. The current owner however, does not seem to understand that an asking price of $1 million is prohibitively high.
  • Giovanni’s Room, what had been the nation’s oldest gay bookstore before it closed in May, will return in an analogous capacity, with NewsWorks reporting that owner Ed Hermance has leased the store at 13th & Pine to Philly AIDS Thrift (PAT)–“a charity shop that resells donated material to benefit AIDS and HIV programs.” “[Ed Hermance has] created this wonderful space and I think we’re sort of similar,” said PAT co-founder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou. “We have all walks of life. We’ve created this safe place for the community to come and dwell. I just think it would be a wonderful combination.”
  • At 11th & Parrish Streets in West Poplar, Drexel’s 11th Street Family Health Services, a nurse-run health center that first opened in 2002, is currently being doubled in size, allowing for “an increase in primary care capacity,” says Naked Philly, as well as “space for dance, music, art therapy, and Couple and Family Therapy services.” The blog is excited to see a diversification of architectural styles at this intersection, as the addition’s contemporary offering will contrast nicely with the extant turn-of-the-century facility.
  • While the short notice to this past Sunday’s partial removal of the PNB letters atop One South Broad has peeved many in the preservation community, The Inquirer remarks that any public vetting of the decision was not within the jurisdiction of either the Art Commission (which only has authority over the placement of signs) or the Historical Commission (which only has stewardship over the bell tower itself). “Personally, I am upset with any chipping away at the historical fabric,” said Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of the Association for Public Art. “You would hope that there would be some public review. What it does point to is the importance of being proactive about what historic elements there are that remain unprotected.”
About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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1 Comment

  1. Contrary to the claim in the Philadelphia Business Journal that was echoed in Morning Blend on the August 22, 2014, Joe Frazier’s Gym on N. Broad Street is, in fact, listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. The Philadelphia Historical Commission designated it as a historic site on June 14, 2013. The online version of the Business Journal article has been corrected.

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