Once collectively known as the German Township, the three neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy and Germantown are steeped in centuries of a rich history.
Once collectively known as the German Township, the three neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy and Germantown are steeped in centuries of a rich history that is continually being written.
This year, three new chapters will be added to that story as Historic Germantown, a consortium of 18 historic sites, prepares to induct three new members into its exclusive Hall of Fame with a gala event scheduled for Thursday evening, June 8, 2023, at the Germantown Friends School.
According to Loretta Witt, president of Historic Germantown's Board of Directors, all three honorees were chosen because each one of them, in their own unique way, is even now shaping that history.
This year's class includes artist Barbara Bullock, State Rep. Stephen Kinsey and Sharmain Matlock-Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition.
“The whole thing about history is to preserve and share the past, but it’s important to understand that history is made everyday,” Witt said. The Hall of Fame recognizes people connected to the three neighborhoods in a way that builds and anchors the community, Witt continued.
Artist and Educator
Barbara Bullock, a celebrated artist and educator, is a lifelong Germantown resident. Over five decades, her body of work, encompassing painting, sculpture, and multimedia visual art, has tackled social justice themes, drawn inspiration from African culture and mythology, and explored questions of identity, spirituality, and the artistic process.
“She is in her 80s now and has been an artist all her life,” Witt said. “She has not only created art but worked in education to teach children and adults, and has been a mentor to many artists.”
Bullock’s influence has extended from museum workshops to school classrooms and even prisons. Woodmere Art Museum is featuring her work in an upcoming retrospective show, scheduled to run from late September through the end of January.
The Public Servant
State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, who represents parts of Northwest Philadelphia, is being recognized for his continued advocacy for affordable healthcare, equitable education, and “a just economy.” A product of the Philadelphia public school system, Kinsey has risen to become a key figure in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since he was first elected in 2013.
During the COVID pandemic, Kinsey founded the Northwest COVID-19 Coalition to help disseminate information and advocate for testing and vaccines in the region. He is involved with local schools and community organizations and continues to champion leadership training and mentoring initiatives for youth throughout the state.
Kinsey has forged coalitions with legislators in the middle of the state who may be inclined to vote against Philadelphia and shown them that “we are human beings here who have families and children and love life just as they do,” Witt said.
Sharmain Matlock-Turner, has made history as the first woman CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition. Under her leadership since 1999, the Coalition has been instrumental in “improving the quality of urban life, building wealth in low-income communities, and tackling pressing local issues.” Along with her extensive involvement on several boards and committees, she also co-founded and leads the West Oak Lane Charter School.
The Coalition works with government officials and agencies, businesses, neighborhoods, and individuals to help accomplish its mission, which also includes helping nonprofit organizations function more effectively.
“For 25 years as CEO, she has reached out to help fund nonprofits doing good things all over Philadelphia and it’s been a lifesaver for them, especially with the smaller ones that have a hard time raising money,” Witt said.
The Historic Germantown consortium, with its 18 extraordinary historic houses, destinations, and museums, works to preserve and share Northwest Philadelphia's historical assets and to acknowledge and celebrate the stories of today.
The Hall of Fame was founded in the 1990s and new honorees are added every year. Inductees include musician Grover Washington Jr., Comcast founder Ralph Roberts and architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
The gala, Historic Germantown’s signature fundraiser, includes dinner, jazz music and an auction. Tickets and program booklet ads are available for purchase at freedomsbackyard.com.