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Revolutionary War museum moves forward, but needs more funding

At a ceremony Wednesday, supporters gathered to drum up more interest for the Museum of the American Revolution, and to announce the demolition of the existing Independence Park visitors' center. The center, which was constructed to accommodate bicentennial celebrations in 1976, is set to come down in a few weeks.

Revolutionary War re-enactors were on hand to celebrate the beginning of the destruction of the old Independence Park Visitors' Center and the construction of the Museum of the American Revolution at 3rd and Chestnut Streets in Old City. Credit: Charles Mostoller Revolutionary War re-enactors were on hand to celebrate the beginning of the destruction of the old Independence Park Visitors' Center and the construction of the Museum of the American Revolution at 3rd and Chestnut Streets in Old City. Credit: Charles Mostoller

What is claimed to be the first museum to consolidate the entire history of the American Revolution under one roof is a few steps closer to reality.

It just needs more money.

At a ceremony Wednesday, supporters gathered to drum up support for the Museum of the American Revolution, and to announce the demolition of the existing Independence Park visitors center. The facility, which was constructed to accommodate bicentennial celebrations in 1976, is set to come down in a few weeks.

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During a speech to donors, former Gov. Ed Rendell, a longtime supporter of the project, worked to inspire potential donors with stories of great sacrifice.

"We had an idea," he said. "We wanted freedom and democracy and the right to govern ourselves without prejudice, without any [ethnic] divisions, and we were willing to risk it all.

"We won our freedom against all odds," he added. "And that story needs to be told."

So far, a little more than $100 million of the $150 million price tag has been raised.Locally based INTECH Construction was chosen to build the new building and tear down the old one.

Philanthropist H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who donated $40 million to the project, said, "I think it's important for future generations that they understand the principles that created this great country."

While the building's design is set, his group is working with the city's Art Commission to refine the final product. It is set to open in 2016.


The bricklayers


Members of the Local 1 Bricklayers Union aren't happy.

Workers picketed Wednesday's ceremony in protest of the proposed use of brick panels for the building's exterior. Worker George Posner said real craftsmen should lay real brick.

"This is going to be here forever," he said.

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