It was around this time last year that 3901 Henry Avenue, Grace Kelly’s childhood home, received a historical state marker. The East Falls house was built by the Princess of Monaco’s father in the late 1920s.
One local who attended the event thought the home should “stay residential” since turning it into a museum would create funding hardships. Another voiced her hopes for the future owners to keep the house well-maintained. “I’d hate to see it change,” she had said.
Unfortunately, that kind-hearted wish has not come true. Almost to the day of the historical marker ceremony, the property is now in the news for all the wrong reasons. Yesterday, Pennsylvania SPCA Law Enforcement officers arrived at the Kelly's former residence after a tip to their cruelty hotline. Inside, one dead cat and fourteen flea-ridden ones, in various states of health, were found.
Current owner Marjorie Bamont bought the house in 1973 and is now in her 80s. However, this might be more than just a simple case of "cat lady" eccentricity. From Phillymag.com:
Bamont, an 81-year-old described as an animal advocate who may have mental health issues, at some point was befriended by the much-younger Troy Robinson, who has apparently been living in the house with her. A criminal who’s confessed to attempted rape and burglary, Robinson will also likely be charged with animal cruelty.
Whatever the case may be, the animals have been taken away and an investigation is taking place.
Lest we forget the house's erstwhile days, a few vintage photographs should be a reminder that it wasn't always a squalid place.
Apart from having a Philadelphia legend like Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly grow up there, Kelly's parents and brother were also illustrious members of the Philadelphia community.
John "Jack" Kelly Sr. was an Olympic Gold medalist and president of the Fairmount Park Commission. Margaret K. Kelly was a civic leader and Development Chair at the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia. And John B. Kelly Jr. was an Olympic Bronze medalist.
The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown currently honors the Kelly's royal daughter with the exhibition From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon. The show runs from now until January 26th, 2014 and showcases personal artifacts from the screen actress's life. You can read an insider account of the back-tie gala that opened the exhibit last Sunday, attended by our very own Michael Callahan.
Tickets to the show can be bought on the Michener's website.