Memorial mural destroyed by developers in South Philly being replaced

Cherri Gregg
January 17, 2019 - 8:25 pm
An anti-violence mural that was mistakenly destroyed by developers in South Philadelphia last summer is now being replaced. The new design was unveiled Thursday afternoon.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An anti-violence mural that was mistakenly destroyed by developers in South Philadelphia last summer is now being replaced. The new design was unveiled Thursday afternoon.

"This is a model for what can happen," said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts of Philadelphia. She was there in 1989 to paint the Stop The Violence Mural at 20th and Fernon streets and was there last summer when the community expressed outrage when the mural was destroyed.

"Most of the names up there were individuals that we knew who lived right here, this community," says Tracey Anderson, who lives just blocks from the anti-violence mural. It carried the names of 46 youth taken by gun violence in the area during the height of the crack epidemic. 

RELATED: Community devastated by destruction of mural by unaware developer

The block is a memorial to that time in many ways. 

The nearby Ralph Brooks Tot Lot is named after a six-year-old victim of a 1988 drug related shooting.

"Certainly if I had to do all over again- I would have found a way to reach out to the community first," said Steve Brown, a developer with Urban Living.  

He says he donated $8,000 to help replace the mural, which was damaged while he was renovating the home at that corner. He and the new homeowner worked with Mural Arts and the City of Philadelphia, which matched the donation to rebuild the three story mural.

"Give him a round of applause, this doesn't happen often," said Kenyatta Johnson, councilman for the City of Philadelphia, representing the district that includes Point Breeze. "For me this is not political, this is personal. I grew up in this neighborhood and I knew many of the people whose names we were on that building."

Johnson helped to broker the compromise. 

The new mural, designed by artist Felix St. Fort, embodies the original and includes the victim names, but brings a more modern feel.

"We want to keep their legacies alive, we want to keep their names alive," said Johnson. 

Mural Arts is holding a community paint day on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the Dixon House, located at 1920 S. 20th Street in Point Breeze. 

The mural should be complete this spring.