Historical Note


Named after his grandfather, who was a highly regarded real estate attorney in Philadelphia, ELI KIRK PRICE (1860-1933) also shared the elder's sense of civic duty. Just as the grandfather established the city's 8,900-acre Fairmount Park, both men served on its Commission. At the time the younger Price was serving as its vice president, the Fairmount Park Commission was charged with overseeing the construction of a new building on a hill in Fairmount for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Commission was also responsible for the Museum's public funding. Price was a critical player in that project and remained a vital associate of the Museum, serving on its Board of Trustees and as the corporation president from 1926 until his death in 1933. In 1928, Price received the Philadelphia Award, an annual recognition of a citizen's service on behalf of the community. Eli Kirk Price was a descendant of Philip ap Rhys, who came to America from Wales at the end of the 17th century. On a deed for a tract of land in the Haverford, Pennsylvania area, the family name was recorded as "Price." His parents were John Sergeant Price (1831-1897) and Sarah Anne (nee Baker) (1837-1908). Price's wife was Evelyn Taylor, whom he married in 1896.

As implied in the preface to her biography of Eli Kirk Price, SARAH DICKSON LOWRIE (1870-1957) was a lifelong observer and commentator of Philadelphia and activist. In addition to her position with the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Lowrie was one of the original members of the women's Committee of 1926. Organized at the mayor's invitation, the Committee took an active role in the second world's fair hosted by Philadelphia to commemorate the country's sesqui-centennial celebration of independence. Their project "High Street" was Lowrie's idea and took its title from the original name of the main thoroughfare that divides the city north and south. The project involved a re-creation of a late 18th century cityscape that included the building of 20 replica houses. After the sesqui-centennial, the Committee of 1926 took on the restoration, furnishing and administering of Strawberry Mansion, one of the 18th-century homes in Fairmount Park. The Committee continues to administer the home today. Lowrie served as its corresponding secretary and during the 1930s she and Museum director Fiske Kimball exchanged letters regarding certain furnishings for the house. Lowrie also wrote or was co-editor of three titles published for the Committee of 1926. Her subjects were "Notable Women of Pennsylvania," High Street and Strawberry Mansion. Lowrie was also active in social reform. Using a dinner party of the retail magnate and fellow reformer John Wanamaker as her stage, Lowrie proposed the establishment of public baths to improve the sanitation conditions of the working poor. The suggestion came to fruition when in 1895 the Public Bath Association of Philadelphia was granted incorporation. One of Lowrie's more formal speaking engagements included an address given to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia in 1953 about Charles Thomson, who served as secretary to the Continental Congress.

Works Consulted

Fiske Kimball Records. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Includes Dickson correspondence in Series 1., Subseries. 1933-1937.

"Strawberry." Part II of vol. 26. Bulletin (Pennsylvania Museum of Art) (May 1931)

Public Baths Association of Philadelphia Records. (Collection 1999) Historical Society of Pennsylvania.