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Point Breeze art installation celebrates a vacant lot's history

The House That Was There

When walking by a vacant lot, it's easy to see only an eyesore. With her latest site-based sculpture, The House That Was Here, local artist Maria Möller hopes to shift that perception, reminding us that there's more to vacant land than stories of neglect.

Thanks to a grant from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority's new Fund for Art and Civic Engagement (FACE), Möller -- along with neighborhood youth and community members -- created a piece at 2025 Federal Street that evokes the history of the house that once stood there. Point Breeze is a part of town with its fair share of vacancy that is now experiencing an intense wave of gentrification.

Multiple sculptural recreations of the former home stand in the narrow lot. Four of them tell the house's story from 1877 through the 1960s when it burned to the ground. The four pieces incorporate original source material, neighborhood memories and a little bit of historical fiction to tell the space's history.

The fifth house has been created using three open houses -- the public was invited to share their own thoughts, memories of life in Point Breeze, and their hopes for the future of the neighborhood -- adding the community's voice to Möller's exploration of neighborhood change.
The exhibit runs through the end of August. If you can’t make it, check out thehousethatwashere.tumblr.com for photos and additional information. 

Source:  Maria Möller, local artist
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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