New structure, scheduled to be completed this year, will make the 1908 Library ADA compliant. State Rep. Cherelle Parker helped to secure funds to make the new construction possible.
The Krauth Memorial Library, completed in 1908 on the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), is the only public building on the 13-acre Northwest Philadelphia campus that is not accessible to all.
Now, thanks in significant measure to the efforts of Pennsylvania state Rep. Cherelle L. Parker (D-200th District), who secured a $500,000 grant for the project from the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, the library will feature a welcome mat for everybody before the end of this year.
ADA compliance will be made possible by a new “Library Connector” to be constructed between the seminary’s Brossman Learning Center and the library. Parker was honored Thursday, March 22, 2012 at the groundbreaking event celebrating the anticipated construction. The announcement from LTSP President Philip D. W. Krey during his remarks that the interior hall of the new connector will be “called Parker Hall in honor of state Rep. Cherelle Parker” obviously moved Parker. Krey also told onlookers that the new structure will be named for Timothy Breidegam, the late son of Helen and DeLight Breidegam. Construction on the connector is scheduled to begin soon and be completed by the end of the summer, according to Eric Butz of Roberson Butz Architects, who gave remarks at the groundbreaking.
“When this library was dedicated on June 3, 1908, this community was introduced to an architectural wonder,” said library director Dr. Karl Krueger. Krueger noted that the historic building’s glass floor and skylights made it possible for early students to enjoy natural light in the structure. Then LTSP Dean Henry Eyster Jacobs said at the time of the library’s opening that “we need books as resources to empower leaders.”
Krueger said the library’s mission hasn’t changed in more than a century. “The shelves, books and materials in the library have the same mission as then – to empower people to service in this community, city, and the world.” He thanked Parker for her role in making the building’s critical resources truly available to everyone.
A surprise guest and speaker was the Rev. Dr. Gladys Willis, an LTSP alumna who was dean and professor at historic Lincoln University, Parker’s alma mater. Rep. Parker was a student in a Shakespeare class Dr. Willis taught at Lincoln. The professor, now retired, remembers Parker as a “lively, persuasive student… It is a special honor for me to be here to celebrate a former student.” Willis praised Parker as someone who “continues to raise your voice in the community for those who have no voice. I am proud of you and respect you dearly.”
Speaking of her decision to advocate for funding for the seminary project, she said she becomes uneasy about institutions where only the members benefit from what it does. “It’s important for members of a (wider) community to share in the benefits of an institution like this one because you don’t know how you may inspire or motivate those you serve in the community to become part of your extended family, and Rev. Krey you always made your community service concern evident to me after I met you.”
Groundbreaking participants included Krey, Krueger, Parker and Butz. The invocation was delivered by the Rev. Lamont Wells of Reformation Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, a student in the seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. The Reading and Collect for the occasion was delivered by the Rev. Dr. J. Jayakiran Sebastian, seminary chaplain and seminary dean-elect. He is also the H. George Anderson Professor of Mission and Cultures and Director of the Multicultural Mission Resource Center at LTSP. Student body President Laura Gorton (MAR 2012) also participated.
Members of the Northwest Philadelphia community joined seminary students, faculty, and staff for the ceremony and the community luncheon that followed.
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