Save the Columbus Square Fleisher Pavilion

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The Mid-Century Modern pavilion in South Philadelphia's Columbus Square Park is slated for demolition as part of a major redesign and renovation of the park. Designed by* Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher, Philadelphia's first licensed female architect, the delightfully quirky round pavilion with its crown-like roof was built in 1960, originally as a senior center, but later served other functions before falling into disuse. The fascinating story of the pavilion was written up by Inquirer Architecture Critic Inga Saffron in her 'Good Eye' column earlier this year:

https://www.inquirer.com/real-estate/inga-saffron/south-philadelphia-columbus-square-elizabeth-fleisher-architect-mid-century-modernism-20190311.html

While there ostensibly was a multi-year public input process leading to the development of the new master plan for Columbus Square Park, it has come to light that very many residents of the area near the park feel they were entirely excluded or ignored and that the decision making was dominated by a very few vocal advocates. The Columbus Square Fleisher Pavilion is clearly a much-loved and familiar landmark in the Passyunk Square neighborhood of South Philadelphia and there is a strong desire among local residents to see it preserved and adaptively reused.

Though the pavilion is not listed by the Philadelphia Historical Commission on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places — which would block demolition — the upside is that it can be freely modified for a new use, ideally without too much compromising the overall design. To demolish it would be to squander a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse of a charming neighborhood icon which, despite its diminutive physical size, contributes mightily to the Passyunk Square neighborhood's sense of place. We urge Mayor Jim Kenney, Parks Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell and Councilmember Mark Squilla to put the planned demolition on hold and re-explore the potential uses of the Fleisher Pavilion.

* UPDATE 10/10/2019: A 'Round House' plot twist…

Photo credit: Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer