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John Andrew Gallery to speak on William Penn

Merion Friends Meeting is very pleased to announce that John Andrew Gallery will be reprising his lecture, “William Penn: America’s First Real Estate Agent” during Haverford Quarterly Meeting’s meeting for business. It will be hosted at Merion Friends Meeting at 9:30 am April 26, 2015. The lecture will be held in the meetinghouse itself, at the corner of Montgomery  and Meetinghouse Roads in Merion Station/Narberth.

William Penn, City Planner

Americans expect cities to have organized street grids, with straight lines and intersections, as well to as to have areas of open land for grass, gardens and public parks. But that concept was revolutionary when William Penn created the plan for Philadelphia. European cities had meandering streets snaking through crowded residences and businesses, all originally crammed within walls protecting the residents from raiding parties of looters and invading armies. Those cities housed populations living in close, unsanitary conditions and profound poverty, and they were regularly wracked with epidemic diseases. William Penn was determined to have a city that was built right from the beginning to promote the physical, spriritual and financial health of its residents.

Penn’s ideas have benefited Philadelphia in ways the 17th century thinker could never have anticipated. The city built on Penn’s model was well suited to modernity as society became more mobile and the complexity of our interrelationships with our fellow citizens have exploded. In addition, his ideas have had impact on city planning everywhere, ever since his Holy Experiment succeeded.

Anyone who has played Sim City knows how badly things usually turn out the first time. With the help of repeatedly playing the game — and reading a user manual — outcomes improve with experience. But William Penn didn’t get a re-do. He had to get it right the first time, with nothing but genius and a profound love for the citizens who would come to live in Philadelphia.  It doesn’t mean he didn’t have problems, many of which are still pertinent to modern city planning.

Please join us to learn the fascinating history of William Penn, real estate agent and city planner.

About John Andrew Gallery

Mr. Gallery is particularly qualified to speak on the subject of William Penn’s impact on city planning. He is a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Design with a masters degree in architecture. He began work with the Philadelphia City Planning Project after graduation, responsible for the redesign of the Market East Project. Following a position as chairman of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Austin, Texas, he returned to Philadelphia as the creator and first director of the Office of Housing and Community Development. Four years later, he co-founded the consulting firm Urban Partners, which specialized in neighborhood planning, economic development and strategic planning for non-profit organizations.

In 1992, he became involved with the YouthBuild program, which assists high school dropouts to complete their education while learning job skills. He served as board chair for 12 years and helped bring the Philadelphia YouthBuild Charter School into existence.

He served as director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia from 2002 to 2013, acting as the principal public advocate for critical issues of historic preservation in Philadelphia.

In 2010, Mr. Gallery received AIA Pennsylvania’s award for contributions to the profession by a non-architect. Preservation Pennsylvania chose him for the Henry Jordan Award for excellence in advocacy in 2011. In 2012, he was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with the John Chafee Trustee’s Award for outstanding leadership in public policy. He also received a leadership award in 2013 from the Philadelphia City Policy Committee.

He continues to contribute to the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School as Chairman of the Friends of YouthBuild. He also serves as a board member for the Arch Street Friends Meeting House Preservation Trust.

Mr. Gallery’s publications include Man-Made Philadelphia, Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City, The Planning of Center City Philadelphia: From William Penn to the PresentCity Abandoned: Charting the Loss of Civic Institutions in Philadelphia, and Sacred Sites of Center City: A Guide to Philadelphia’s Historic Churches, Synagogues, and Meetinghouses.

As a Quaker and a member of Chestnut Hill Monthly Meeting, he has also published spiritual works, including Reflections from a Prayer Vigil for Peace and Living in the Kingdom of God. He has also published a number of essays in Friends Journal. In addition, he writes fiction, including a self-published collection of short stories entitled Photographic Meditations.

“William Penn: America’s First Real Estate Agent,” is free and open to the public, but contributions will be collected to benefit the Arch Street Meetinghouse Preservation Trust.  Following Quaker Meeting for Worship 11:00-12:00 am in the meetinghouse, there will be a lunch provided in the Merion Meeting Activities Building. There is also a program for children 9:30-11:45. (The children join adults in meeting for worship during the last 15 minutes.)  Reservations are not required, but it would be helpful if we know how many people are coming for the lecture, how many for the lunch, and how many/what ages for the children’s program. Please use the contact form below to message us. (Those comments will not be posted.)



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