The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia has been handing out its Preservation Achievement Awards for 21 years. Last night’s honorees were a disparate group, from the looming behemoth Municipal Services Building to a one-man guard station in Fairmount Park. Unlike many other awards ceremonies (Oscars, Keystone Press Awards), this one was brisk, informative and flawlessly executed. Emcee Tracy Davidson, of NBC-10, was superb, and I say that without any hint of local-news-directed snark, I promise.
Here are my own superlatives for the evening.
Most Ridiculously Deserved Award
The Henry J. Magaziner EFAIA Award to Friends of the Boyd's Howard Haas for his preservation efforts on behalf of the Boyd Theatre (above, in a photo from the Irvin R. Glazer Theater Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia).
Most Radical Transformation of an Award-Winning Structure
Glassboro Train Station, Glassboro, NJ. (Photo of pre-renovation Glassboro Train Station by Flickr user Owl's Flight; photo of renovated train station via Glassboroonline.com)
Realization of the Night
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce Alan Greenberger (above) looks a little like Deepak Chopra's long lost Jewish cousin.
Tiniest Award-Winner: Saylor Grove Guard Box
Award-Winner That Benefited Most From Neighborhood Tenacity: Strawberry Mansion Trolley Barn aka 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop Project
Award-Winner That Benefited Most From National/Ethnic Pride: Fountain of the Seahorses
Real Estate Developer Who Makes the Phrase "Real Estate Developer" Seem Like a Compliment: Jim Nolan, of award-winning Nugent Senior Apartments
1 black jacket with purple lapels
1 pair red and white satin platform shoes with white polka dots
1 red and gold African dashiki
1 gelled modified mullet
1 ruffled tuxedo shirt worn under white blazer with black pocket square
1 white jeff cap
1 all black ensemble worn by man with passing resemblance to Mike, the assassin on Breaking Bad
Quote of the night, said by a mock-confused gent to a staffer when people were filtering into two separate rooms to get food and drink: "One room for Republicans and one for Democrats?" (Especially funny to think the Union League would have a room for Democrats.)
Most Gracious Acceptance Speech in, Perhaps, the History of Acceptance Speeches: Janet S. Klein, winner of the James Biddle Award for lifetime achievement in historic preservation
It was a terrific night. At the beginning, Greenberger said, "The city is growing in population. Look at all the buildings going up. There can be tension between preservation and development and growth." But if ever there were an evening when all agendas coalesced, it was this one.