The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) hosted its first outdoor fundraiser Thursday evening, May 4, welcoming more than 200 friends, visitors, and volunteers to its newly renovated courtyard in Society Hill.
“Taste of History: The Boys Are Back in Town” featured food, drinks, and fellowship in front of a building familiar to many church historians and other Presbyterian history enthusiasts—the society’s 50-year-old headquarters at 425 Lombard Street.
The returning “boys” were six terra cotta statues representing early American Presbyterians—Francis Makemie, John Witherspoon, John McMillan, Samuel Davies, James Caldwell, and Marcus Whitman. Designed by Alexander Stirling Calder in 1897, the statues were conserved throughout 2016 at the Philadelphia studios of Materials Conservation LLC.
The evening’s guests enjoyed a ribbon-cutting toast, fare from local restaurants and beverage makers, and a short program. Presbyterian Historical Society Executive Director Beth Hessel was master of ceremonies. Other speakers included Peter Haas, son of longtime volunteer John Haas; statues conservator John Carr; and PC(USA) Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II. The Stated Clerk’s name is etched beside those of nineteen other denominational leaders in Stated Clerks Square, a new brick patio overlooking the society’s front steps and wheelchair-accessible ramp.
Through sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions, and a raffle, Taste of History raised more than $34,000. PC(USA) sponsors included the Board of Pensions, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation, Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc., Office of the General Assembly, and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. PHS vendors and board directors also provided generous support. PHS Development Associate & Membership Coordinator Deana Stuart and Senior Administrative Assistant Lorraine Brown organized the event.
As night gathered and temperatures fell, guests headed inside to explore a new in-house exhibit, “Presbyterians & the American Revolution.” By midnight, PHS staff members had returned the building and grounds to their pre-party states. After a Friday to Saturday PHS board meeting, and a Sunday rest, the society’s doors opened again to the public Monday morning.
The Presbyterian Historical Society is the National Archives of the PC(USA). Founded in 1852, PHS collects, preserves, and shares stories of the American Presbyterian experience with Presbyterians and the general public. Researchers and church groups interested in visiting the society should call 215-627-1852 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. PHS is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Admission is free.