Art Sanctuary is fortunate to hold a lease on the building that has its own proud history. During the 1920s, former owners George Edward and Addie Dickerson used it as a headquarters to amass real estate, and for political, social, and civic meetings.
G. Edward Dickerson graduated Temple University Law School in 1902, worked as assistant solicitor for the city, and in 1919 defended several black men charged in Gray’s Ferry section riots over scarce housing. He succeeded in suing the county for damages to property destroyed by the mob. In addition, he also brought to trial police officers who murdered a black man.
Addie Whitehead Dickerson was a realtor and the city’s first black female Notary Public. And Addie was active: co-organizer of the city’s YWCA chair of the National Council of Church Women, representative to the 1924 Prague, Czechoslovakia, meeting of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the International Council of Women of the Darker Races; board member of what was then Bethune-Cookman College (now University).
Together, this early 20th century black power couple bought real estate and willed it to be used to “improve the Negro race.” Their legacy supports us.
Interested in renting this newly renovated, historic space for your event? Click here.
Art Sanctuary has been made possible because the Church of the Advocate’s generous sharing of its building, a six-story French Gothic Cathedral hung with spectacular murals of black history and struggle by Walter Edmonds and Richard Watson. Our first logo, in fact, was taken from Walter Edmonds’ mural depiction of Frederick Douglass and reproduced with his generous permission.
Designed in the 1890s by Charles M. Burns as a memorial to Philadelphia merchant George W. South, the National Historic Landmark Building also features a stunning rose window and some of the best stone carvings on the U.S. East Coast.
In 1968, under the rector Fr. Paul Washington, the Advocate hosted the city’s Black Power Conference; in 1974, the first female priests in the Episcopal Church were ordained there. It gave birth to the Advocate Community Development Corporation, which built or renovated more than 200 units of neighborhood housing.
Today, the Advocate is a small, but active, congregation that houses a soup kitchen, food cupboard, and summer camp.