Whitemarsh’s Board of Supervisors approves grant agreement to move purchase of Abolition Hall forward

During its August 11th meeting, the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors approved an agreement for a $2 million grant from The Karabots Foundation to the Whitemarsh Art Center that will go towards the $3.95-million purchase of the 10.45-acre property off Butler Pike that is home to Abolition Hall.

Abolition Hall was built in 1856 by George Corson, an abolitionist who allowed the property to serve as a station on the Underground Railroad. Abolitionists, including Frederick Douglas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Lloyd Garrison, spoke there.  

The 10.45-acre property had been approved for development that would have seen townhouses constructed on approximately eight acres and the historic buildings preserved. In 2021, the developer walked away from the plan and the township and art center developed a plan to purchase the property.

The art center will move to the property with other use of other buildings and areas to be determined. The art center’s board of directors has also approved the grant agreement. The balance of the property’s purchase price is coming from the township’s open space fund.

“I know I speak for all of Whitemarsh Township when I say thank you to The Karabots Foundation,” said Whitemarsh Supervisor Chair Laura Boyle-Nester. “This incredible generosity is another sign of Nicholas and Athena Karabots’ commitment to our community and its history.”  

“The Whitemarsh Art Center is indebted to the Karabots family for the trust they have placed in us. This gift allows us to further their mission and ours,” said Dan Zuena, president of the Whitemarsh Art Center Board of Directors. “Together, Whitemarsh Township, the Karabots family and the Art Center are developing a promising and bright future.”  

The Karabots Foundation is a longtime supporter of Whitemarsh Township. In 2010, Athena and Nicholas Karabots contributed $4.4 million for the expansion and renovation of the William Jeanes Memorial Library. In appreciation of the contribution, the library is now known as the William Jeanes Memorial Library and Nicholas and Athena Karabots Center for Learning

“The Karabots Foundation and the Karabots family are extremely pleased that this grant will enable Whitemarsh Township and the Whitemarsh Art Center to preserve such a historically significant building as Abolition Hall and its surrounding buildings and grounds; and more importantly, they are delighted that it will enable the Township and Art Center to provide outreach services to local underserved and disadvantaged youth in the form of the educational, cultural and recreational programs that will be offered at the Property,” said Robert Downs, representative of The Karabots Foundation. “The Karabots family looks forward to continuing its longstanding support of Whitemarsh Township and its communities.”

The purchase of the property is expected to close within 90 days. 

Photo: Wikipedia Commons