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New history installation pops up on Jewelers Row

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It highlights the historical significance of the street and Washington Square West neighborhood

A history installation at 700 Sansom Street aims to highlight the stories of Jewelers Row and Washington Square West.
Courtesy of Kevin Wohlgemuth

One of the most talked about preservation battles in Philadelphia is over the future of Jewelers Row in Washington Square, where a developer wants to demolish a series of buildings and build a 29-story residential tower in their place.

When the plans were first publicly revealed, many residents were surprised to learn that Jewelers Row was not already certified historic. But now, a new history installation has popped up on the corner of the street, aiming to highlight the street’s significance, from its start in the early 19th century as Carstair’s Row to today.

700 Sansom Street.

The installation, called “Framing History on Jewelers Row” is a simple display of posters prominently displayed in the windows of 700 Sansom Street, the future home of a new coffee shop that will replace the former tenant Arterial Agents this July.

Richard Le, the owner of 700 Sansom Street, wanted to use the space to showcase the little-known history of Jewelers Row and approached neighborhood residents Kevin Wohlgemuth and Angelina Jones for help. The duo has been actively documenting the history of Jewelers Row through research and by documenting oral histories with current Jewelers Row tenants.

“I worked with Kevin and Angelina to facilitate the display of posters and history on the block to celebrate the history of the row and highlight the recognition of being a World Heritage City plus the status of being a National Treasure,” Le said.

As for Wohlgemuth and Jones, Jewelers Row is especially important to them. “As residents of the neighborhood, we are really attached to this place. All of these pieces from different points in history, including the square, the rowhouses, and the legacy industries make it an exciting place to live,” Wohlgemuth said.

The future coffee shop is hosting an event open to the public on Saturday, June 24 that will bring historians and jewelers together to officially unveil the history installation.