69th Street in Upper Darby has some lovely art deco buildings, but it was never known as a gathering place for the art connoisseur.
Or was it?
Actually, in the 1930s, the Philadelphia Art Museum, then known as the Pennsylvania Art Museum, had a branch gallery there, writes Bart Everts for hiddencityphila.org.
In the gallery were several world class art exhibitions open to the public.
Developer John H. McClatchy was building a retail district on 69th Street. It brought in Philadelphia retailers like Lit Brothers and Blauner’s and became the second busiest shopping district after Center City.
The Tower Theater opened in 1928 as a vaudeville movie theater, along with the 69th Street Arts and Crafts Center at 76 S. 69th Street, which hosted local artists and musicians.
In 1931, the Carnegie Corporation used a $50,000 grant, with another $30,000 from McClatchy, to open a satellite museum for the Pennsylvania Museum of Art at the Arts and Craft Center.
The branch saw art connoisseurs and casual shoppers and was the second-most attended museum in the region after the Pennsylvania Museum of Art.
By October 1932, the branch was costing more than it was making, and it closed.
Read more about 69th Street’s art museum here.