Philadelphia Inquirer, March, 24 1949
Park, Beautified By Civic Club, Increases Property Values
of a weekly series on the work of community organizations
of Fitler Park, on Pine Street between 23d and 24th
Streets, by a community organization, has checked deterioration
of the immediate neighborhood and has contributed to
an upswing in the appearance and property value in the
This was a statement
by Mrs. Halsey Manning, secretary of the 7th, 8th and
9th Wards Branch of the Civic Club of Philadelphia,
the community group which undertook the program of improving
the city-owned square, the north side of which is at
A culminating phase
of the project was the planting of a garden plot at
the park dedicated to the 3,000,000 men of the armed
forces who were recipients of Philadelphia hospitality
during the Second World War.
The Civic Club is a
women's organization founded in 1894 and devoted to
civic interests. Adelaide A. Sheble is president. The
branch headed by Mrs. Manning sponsored the park improvement
and beautification program as an independent neighborhood
This action for the
betterment of a neighborhood - with its improving effect
on the whole city - is representative of the efforts
of scores of community organizations which center their
volunteer activities on civic improvement.
in the Fitler Park project, Mrs. Manning emphasized
her appreciation to city officials for their cooperation
in restoring "the forgotten park."
Before the project was
begun three years ago, she said, there was no grass,
the paving was crumbled, the guardhouse was in need
of painting, there were only five benches, the fences
were broken, more trees were needed and the trees already
there needed pruning.
Representing their branch
of the Civic Club, Mrs. Manning and several other members
of the organization went to Nathan H. Rambo, Jr., chief
of the Bureau of City Property, and discussed improvement
of the park. "He couldn't have been more courteous,"
Mrs. Manning also praised
the cooperation of Morris H. Maxwell, City Park Supervisor,
Improvement began within
several .months, Mrs. Manning related. The muddy ground
was sodded, the paving was renewed, the number of benches
doubled, the guardhouse was painted and fences were
As this improvement
progressed, the Society of Little Gardens was invited
to participate with the Civic. Club branch in planting
flowers and shrubs. The garden society consented, Mrs.
Manning said, and began a planting project which continued
for many months.
The garden society's
activities were begun under the presidency of the late
Mrs. Howard Lewis and its interests have continued under
the presidency of Mrs. Clarence Finn.
The shrubbery dedicated
to men of the armed forces resulted from interest taken
in the park. by directors of the Hospital Entertainment
Canteen, an organization which succeeded the Stage Door
Canteen at the end of the war. Mrs. Manning Served as
executive director of both.
many visitors will recall the garden terrace at the
south side of the Academy of Music; which was used by
the Stage Door Canteen as a space for open air entertainment
of service men.
In order to make the
court attractive, shrubs and flowers had been planted
along its edges. These included forsythia, lilacs and
cedars. The Directors of the hospital canteen agreed
to the removal of these plants to Fitler Park.
The plants now grow
in a circular plot at the east end of the park. With
them is a bronze plaque placed there by the director,
bearing the following legend:
"These shrubs from
the terrace of the Stage Door Canteen and the Hospital
Entertainment Canteen are dedicated to the 3,000,000
men of the armed forces who were served by 5000 Philadelphia
volunteers, June 20, 1942 - March 20, 1947."
The plaque, fixed to
a masonry base, was designed by Roland Moore, an architect,
and was approved by the Art Jury.
Since restoration of
the park, there has been a noticeable improvement in
some of the surrounding houses, Mrs. Manning said. She
added that several which were dilapidated and unused
had been extensively renovated and occupied, while at
another spot a new home is being built.