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Inside Powelton Village’s Hawthorne Hall with Hidden City

June 18, 2013


A mix of urban exploration and artists’ installations, Hidden City Festival is making my heart flutter all month long.

A total of 9 sites, many of which are not normally open to the public, and 10 artists’ projects, including knitting a giant sweater inside a 100-year-old storefront synagogue, drinking tea at a cafe inside an abandoned swimming pool, and investigating the Society of Pythagoras at Hawthorne Hall, Hidden City Festival is without a doubt my favorite thing happening in Philly right now. (But it only goes for two more weeks, so be sure to check it out soon!)

This past weekend, I checked out the goings on at Powelton Village’s Hawthorne Hall. Built in 1895, on the corner of Lancaster avenue and Hamilton street, Hawthorne Hall has served as a theater, a church, and even a boxing ring over its century+ life. In 1914, the Knights of Pythias Union Lodge No. 14 made the hall its headquarters, followed by the Irish National Foresters and a number of church organizations. While today much of the structure is left unused, West Philadelphia-based People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation recently purchased the propery with the hopes of restoring the space.

For Hidden City’s Festival, Hawthorne Hall was transformed into the “Society of Pythagoras,” using materials collected on the abandoned site and around the city by The Rabid Hands Art Collective. With their installations, collective members Andrew Schrock, Ben Wolf, Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, and Vanessa Cronan “explore the tangled history of the fraternal lodges that once made the site their home, drawing from past and present secret spiritual and fraternal customs to create a mysterious, multi-storied club built on ritual and exploration.”

As you can probably tell by the 20+ photographs in this post, I was incredibly inspired by this project… It was fantastic! So many hidden doors, so much to experience, every detail was flawless. Definitely make the time to go see this and any of the other Festival activities that draw your attention. This is a super rare opportunity to explore places most people never get to explore, in ways no one’s ever seen them before.

Amazing job, Hidden City!

Stay tuned: I’ll be checking out another one of Hidden City Festival’s sites this Thursday

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