Fox Chase Farm, 8500 Pine Road, has been awarded a $100,000 matching grant through the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant.
The grant will fund the first phase of preservation, rehabilitation and restoration activities of the historic Manor House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first phase of repairs includes the front porch, addressing the structural and architectural needs of the first floor and installing a first-floor ADA-compliant restroom. Once revitalized, the space will serve as an educational learning space for school students and community members visiting the farm.
The School District of Philadelphia, which operates the 112-acre working educational livestock and crop production farm, has matched the state grant, but the cost of renovations is $800,000. On Oct. 14, there will be a fundraiser with The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.
The check presentation took place last week at the farm. Among those in attendance were state Reps. Kevin Boyle and Elizabeth Fiedler; state Sen. Jim Dillon; deputy superintendent Jermaine Dawson; school board vice president Mallory Fix-Lopez and member Cecelia Thompson; school district chief operating officer Oz Hill; Asiya Khan and Tyshea Smart, career and technical education students at George Washington High School; Mandy Manna, principal and administrator at Fox Chase Farm; Dronaka “Storage” Outlaw, a carpentry career and technical education student at Jules E. Mastbaum; and Stephon Fitzpatrick, executive director for the state Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence.
“What a beautiful space,” said Dawson, deputy superintendent since the beginning of the month, adding that agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Pennsylvania.
Manna, the farm administrator, explained that Manor House has been closed for 12 years, due to termites.
Khan, Smart, Outlaw and other students, who are working at the farm this summer, said they look forward to coming to work weekday mornings at 7. They said the job has taught teamwork, communication skills, tool use and animal care.
“It’s better than what I imagined,” Khan said.
Fiedler put in a plug for her Solar for Schools legislation, which would provide grants to install solar in schools across the state. She’d like to see Fox Chase Farm install solar panels on its buildings to become part of the “green energy future.” ••