Philadelphia to become largest city in U.S. without Boy Scout building

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Philadelphia Scout Building, also known as the Cradle of Liberty Council.

When the Philadelphia City Council broke its 80 year old building lease with the Cradle of Liberty Council, it set itself on a course to be the largest city in the nation without its own Boy Scout building. The scouts must abandon their building before the end of July. Local scouts now have to go to suburbs for services.


With the eviction of the Cradle of Liberty Council, Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the nation, is the only one without its own Scout building. The four largest cities are each served respectively by their own council: Greater New York Councils; Los Angeles Area Council; Chicago Area Council and the Sam Houston Area Council. Cities six through ten have council offices within their city limits as well (Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose).

The Philadelphia-based council is the seventh largest in the nation. The top five are New York, Houston, the Washington-BaltimoreArea (National Capital Area Council), Saint Paul (Northern Star Council) and Salt Lake City (Great Salt Lake Council).

In December 1928 the City of Philadelphia gave the Philadelphia Council permission to build a headquarters on city-owned land at 22nd and Spring Streets in Fairmount Park. The Scouts built their headquarters at their own expense and, complying with the terms of the agreement, immediately turned over the property to the city. In return they remained housed in their building rent free "in perpetuity."

The Beaux Arts style building built in 1929 was designed by architect Charles Klauder. Located at 22nd and Winter Streets it is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Having lost the use of the land and building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway given to the council, it will operate out of its suburban office in Wayne, Pennsylvania. This office is 21 miles outside of Center City, considered the heart of the Delaware Valley.

The eviction of the council is due to the controversies over the issue of avowed homosexuals being leaders in the Boy Scouts. The city of Philadelphia does not allow discrimination against openly gay people, and the Scouts have asserted that under the First Amendment Freedom of assembly they can exclude people who don’t meet their membership standards.

There is no word about the Scouts future plans in Philadelphia and Scout officials have not yet commented on it. The council is still recovering from the loss of United Way funding in 2003.


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