The City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are making major investments in a historic Black landmark in North Philadelphia.
The City will provide $198,100 and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) $400,000 to help restore the Dox Thrash house at 2340 Cecil B. Moore Ave. The project will create a commercial space on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors.
Dox Thrash (1893-1965) was an African American painter and draftsman who spent much of his life in Philadelphia. He co-invented the carborundum printing technique in which silicon carbide is used to make etchings on copper plates.
The Dox Thrash House was built in approximately 1895. Its façade of terra cotta and Roman brick is an example of late Victorian architecture. The Philadelphia Historical Commission designated it for inclusion on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2013.
“Philadelphia’s rich history includes Black men and women who contributed to our culture, our arts, our architecture, and our freedoms,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Restoring the Dox Thrash House will not only honor Mr. Thrash’s legacy but also support the revitalization of North Philadelphia.”
The City’s funding is from the Commerce Department’s Neighborhood Funding Stream, a legacy fund established by the Philadelphia Empowerment Zones, which supports equitable economic development in Philadelphia neighborhoods. PHFA funding comes from the state’s Community Revitalization Fund Program.
“Rehabilitating Dox Thrash House is important because it is a vital piece of Philadelphia history,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “Saving Dox Thrash House reinforces the message that there is value in celebrating the accomplishments of people of color who enrich our country and our culture. PHFA is pleased to provide some of the funding to make this happen.”
Beech Community Services, a North Philadelphia developer, acquired the house in November 2020.
“Beech is thankful to Governor Wolf, PHFA, Mayor Kenney, and the Commerce Department for supporting the Doc Thrash house development,” said Dr. Kenneth Scott, President and CEO of Beech Companies. “This project brings together Community, Government, Philanthropy and the Private sector in preserving a legacy of Black art and culture while addressing the critical need for affordable housing in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.”
Renovation of the house near the intersection of both the Cecil B. Moore and Ridge Avenue commercial corridors will bring 1,400 square feet of new commercial space for the community.
“By supporting the restoration of the Dox Thrash House, we’re making an investment to help the revitalization of this key commercial corridor in North Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid. “Commercial corridors are the economic backbone of Philadelphia, and when we invest in enhancements to neighborhoods central to Black and brown residents, that generates new jobs, goods and services for the entire community.”
“The Historical Commission is thrilled that this culturally important gem will be restored,” said Jon Farnham, Executive Director of the Commission. “The Commission recognizes historic resources across the city and is pleased that this resource will help anchor the revitalization of its community.”
Construction on the house is expected to begin later in 2021 and conclude in 2022.