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2012 Inductee Profiles



Frank Shuman Frank Shuman, 1862-1918
Frank Shuman was a turn of the twentieth century inventor and businessman whose innovations were far ahead of their time. Born in 1862 in Brooklyn, New York, Frank Shuman had little formal education but possessed a creative, inventive mind and a keen interest in science. He worked for a time as a chemist in West Virginia but, at the suggestion of his uncle, who was President of the Tacony Iron Works, he moved to Philadelphia in 1891 to work on the massive William Penn Statue that was being constructed at the Iron Works in preparation for its placement atop Philadelphia’s City Hall.
    Frank Shuman was a turn of the twentieth century inventor and businessman whose innovations were far ahead of their time. Born in 1862 in Brooklyn, New York, Frank Shuman had little formal education but possessed a creative, inventive mind and a keen interest in science. He worked for a time as a chemist in West Virginia but, at the suggestion of his uncle, who was President of the Tacony Iron Works, he moved to Philadelphia in 1891 to work on the massive William Penn Statue that was being constructed at the Iron Works in preparation for its placement atop Philadelphia’s City Hall.
    While living in Tacony in the 1890s and early 1900s, Frank Shuman developed numerous inventions, filed many patents for these inventions, and created various companies to develop them. Among his most successful inventions was a process for making wire-glass, an innovation that made him a wealthy man and won him the prestigious John Scott Medal from the Franklin Institute.
    Another of Shuman’s notable innovations was a solar engine, an invention that used solar heat to run an internal combustion engine. Working in the laboratory and back yard of his home on Disston Street in Tacony, which is still standing, and later at a plant he established nearby, he developed the technology and began giving public demonstrations of the solar engine in 1907.
    He obtained a patent for it in 1911 and in 1912 he was hired by the British government to supervise construction of the world’s first solar thermal power station outside of Cairo, Egypt. Designed to pump water from the Nile River to nearby cotton fields, the grand opening of this solar powered irrigation plant was held in June, 1913. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War I the following year doomed the project.
    The plant’s engineers and operators had to return home and the plant shut down and was never revived. Frank Shuman returned to Tacony in 1914 and died there in 1918. History will yet prove if his 1914 statement is prophetic:

“One thing I feel sure of, and that is that the human race must finally utilize direct sun or revert to barbarism when oil becomes extinct.“
— Frank Shuman, 1914

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Leon Sullivan Leon Sullivan, 1922-2001
Leon Sullivan was a Baptist minister, civil rights leader, and social activist whose lifelong work to better the lives of those suffering from poverty and oppression was recognized worldwide. He was born in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1922 and raised in one of the poorest sections of town. At the age of twelve, he tried to purchase a soda in a local drugstore and was refused service because of his color. This incident inspired his lifelong fight against racial prejudice.
    Leon Sullivan became a Baptist minister at the age of 18. In 1943, during a visit to West Virginia, noted African American minister and politician Adam Clayton Powell convinced Sullivan to move to New York City, where he attended the Union Theological Seminary and later Columbia University, from which he received a master’s degree in religion in 1947. From 1950 to 1988 Reverend Sullivan served as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. Known as "the Lion of Zion," he developed the congregation into one of the largest in America and became a nationally known leader in the civil rights movement and in efforts to create economic opportunities for African Americans. In 1956 Leon Sullivan and his family were among the original residents of Greenbelt Knoll, a new residential housing development in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia that was the first planned interracial community in Philadelphia and one of the first in the nation. Reverend Sullivan and his family lived at Greenbelt Knoll until 1964.
    Leon Sullivan’s civil rights and economic empowerment activities, including successful boycotts against Philadelphia companies that would not hire African Americans, received national press coverage and brought him to the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, with whom he collaborated on various programs. In 1964, Reverend Sullivan founded Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) of America, a very successful job training and life skills program. Now an international organization, OIC has served millions of disadvantaged and under-skilled people worldwide.
    In 1971, Leon Sullivan joined the Board of Directors of General Motors, becoming the first African American on the board of a major corporation. In 1977, in response to apartheid in South Africa, he developed the Sullivan Principles, a code of conduct for companies operating in that country. The Sullivan Principles eventually gained wide acceptance and are credited with helping to end apartheid in South Africa.
    Reverend Leon Sullivan received numerous awards in his lifetime and honorary doctorates from over 50 colleges and universities. In 1992 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President George H. W. Bush, who cited Sullivan as a voice of reason and honored his lifetime of work on behalf of the world’s disadvantaged. Leon Sullivan died in 2001 at the age of 78.

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Ed Kelly Ed Kelly
Ed Kelly was a longtime community activist and business leader in Northeast Philadelphia.
    Born in 1926, Ed’s family moved to the Northeast when he was very young and he would spend the rest of his life there.After graduating high school in 1944, he entered the Army Air Corps and served in the Pacific theater towards the end of World War II.
    Following the War he set up a towing and auto repair business in Burholme.
    He expanded and ran this business successfully for many years while also taking an active role in civic and community affairs.
    Ed and his wife Jane were married in 1951 and together they raised seven children while living in Rhawnhurst.
    A longtime active member of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Ed served as Executive Director of the organization from 1973 through 1982 and is credited with growing the organization significantly and securing the its current office on Roosevelt Blvd.
    In 1977, Ed and other citizen activists founded the Pennypack Park Music Festival.
    A band shell, paid for out of Mr. Kelly’s own pocket, was built and free concerts were held once a week in the Park.
    In addition to providing a showcase for local talent, the concerts featured many nationally-known acts.
    The concerts stopped after the 1991 season, but were revived in 2001, again through the efforts of Ed Kelly and others.
    Funds were secured to restore the band shell, the concerts were resumed, and they have remained a major attraction ever since.
    Over the years the Pennypack Park Music Festival has provided approximately $1 million dollars worth of free entertainment for the residents of Northeast Philadelphia.
    In July 2011, two days after his 85th birthday, the restored festival stage was named the Ed Kelly Stage.
    A longtime member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council, he championed Northeast Philadelphia organizations and causes for many years.
    Ed Kelly passed away on August 20, 2012, just two months prior to his official induction into the Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame.

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Christopher J. Ferguson Christopher J. Ferguson
Christopher Ferguson is a retired US Navy captain and astronaut who in 2011 commanded the final flight of NASA’s Shuttle program. Chris was born in 1961 and raised in Northeast Philadelphia. He attended St. Martha’s Elementary School and Archbishop Ryan High School, from which he graduated in 1979. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 1984 and his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
    Chris Ferguson received his commission from the Navy ROTC program in 1984. He earned his Navy Wings in 1986 and served as an F-14 Tomcat pilot, deploying to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Oceans onboard the USS Forrestal. He attended the Navy Fighter Weapon School, popularly known as TOPGUN, and later completed the Naval Postgraduate/Test Pilot School program. He had several other naval assignments, including a deployment to the Western Pacific/Persian Gulf onboard the USS Nimitz in 1995 in defense of the Iraqi no-fly zone.
    Chris Ferguson entered the US Space Program in 1998. He was the Pilot of Atlantis Shuttle Flight 115 in September 2006 and Commander of Endeavour Flight 126 in November 2008. In July 2011 he had the honor of commanding Atlantis flight 135, the final flight of the thirty-year US Space Shuttle Program. By this time, Chris had logged more than forty days in space.
    Chris Ferguson retired from the Navy in June 2010 and from NASA in December 2011. He has received numerous medals and service awards and citations for his service, as well as an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Drexel University. He currently works for the Boeing Company as Director of Crew and Mission Operations and lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife Sandra and their three children.

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Houses of Worship



Unity Meeting House Frankford Unity Monthly Meeting Frankford (Quaker), 1682
Unity Monthly Meeting at Waln and Unity Streets in Frankford is one of the oldest sites of worship in Philadelphia. Its meeting house, built in 1775, is the oldest surviving Quaker meeting house in the city. Known for many years as Oxford Monthly Meeting and later as Frankford Monthly Meeting, its founders were among the First Purchasers of land from William Penn who came to Philadelphia beginning in 1682. These early Quaker settlers began gathering for worship in members homes until Thomas Fairman, a prominent local Quaker and one of Penns land surveyors, donated land for a meeting house in 1683. The first meeting house, a log structure, was built on the site in 1684; the current 1775 brick and stone building is still used for worship as well as for a community center. In recent years, the congregation took the name Unity Monthly Meeting to distinguish it from Frankford Friends Meeting on Orthodox Street, a separate Quaker congregation that was established in 1833.


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Byberry Monthly Meeting House, 1683 Byberry Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quaker), 1683
The earliest Quaker meetings in Byberry began about 1683 in the homes of local residents. In 1694 Henry English donated an acre of land along what is now Byberry Road for use as a graveyard for local Quakers. A log meeting house was built on this site and Byberry Meeting was officially established soon after. The 1690s log structure was replaced by a stone meeting house in 1714. This was replaced by the present meeting house in 1808. By the 1820s Byberry Meeting had some 500 members and had developed into a center of learning and culture. Beginning with the establishment of the Byberry Friends School about 1720, followed by the establishment of Byberry Library Company in 1794, and Byberry Philosophical Society in 1829, meeting members were engaged in education and social issues as well as the study of literature and natural history. Many were also actively engaged in the anti-slavery movement, holding abolitionist meetings in adjacent Byberry Hall.


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Pennepack Baptist Church, 1688 Pennepack Baptist Church, 1688
Pennepack Baptist Church in Bustleton is the oldest Baptist church in Pennsylvania and seventh oldest in the United States. It was founded in 1688 by a group of Welsh Baptists who settled in the area. They used nearby Pennypack Creek for their baptismal services. They began meeting in members homes until constructing their first church building in 1707 on what is now Krewstown Road. This building was enlarged in 1774 and then replaced by the present building in 1805. Among the notable pastors at Pennepack Baptist was its first preacher in 1688-1689, Elias Keach, son of a famous English Baptist minister, and Samuel Jones, an early graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who was pastor from 1762 to 1814. Reverend Jones founded an academy that he maintained in his home near the Church and was instrumental in founding what is now Brown University in Rhode Island. In 1886 the Church built and occupied a new building about a mile away, but in 2006 it sold this building to another congregation and moved back to its original 1805 building, where it remains today.


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Trinity Church Oxford (Episcopal), 1698 Trinity Church Oxford (Episcopal), 1698
Trinity Church Oxford, in Lawndale, is one of the oldest Episcopal churches in America. A marble stone in the wall of the Church states that Church of England services were first held on the site in 1698 in a log meeting house originally used by area Quakers. A new brick building was built in 1711, and this structure forms the western end of the current church building. In 1713 Queen Anne of England presented the Church with a silver communion chalice, which is still a prize possession of the congregation. In the late nineteenth century noted architect Frank Furness designed additions to the Church. Trinity Oxford has had a number of distinguished rectors over the years, including Aneas Ross, father-in-law of Betsy Ross; William Smith, first provost of the University of Pennsylvania; and Edward Buchanan, brother of President James Buchanan. After American Independence, Trinity Oxford played a role in the new Protestant Episcopal Church in America and in establishing the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1784.


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Presbyterian Church of Frankford Presbyterian Church of Frankford, 1770
Presbyterian Church of Frankford, located at Frankford Avenue and Church Street, was originally established as a German Reformed Church. Its founders were a group of German speaking Protestants mostly from Switzerland. The first church building was completed in 1770 and served as a temporary prison for Hessian soldiers captured in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War. In the early 1800s there was a rift in the Church over language, with some members wanting the services to continue in German and others wishing to switch to English. The former group left to establish a new congregation and in 1808 the Church officially became a Presbyterian congregation. The 1770 building was rebuilt in 1844 and then again in 1859. The latter, the distinctive Pink Church, is the current building. Members of Presbyterian Church of Frankford have played an important role in Frankford over the years, from managing the Frankford Academy in the early 1800s to helping found Frankford Hospital in the early 1900s.


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All Saints Episcopal Church, 1772 All Saints Episcopal Church, 1772
All Saints Episcopal Church on Frankford Avenue in Torresdale was established in 1772 as a mission of the areas first Episcopal Church, Trinity Oxford in Lawndale. Christian Minnick donated the land with the stipulation that the new church not separate from Trinity Oxford and that Swedish ministers be allowed to preach there to the areas Swedish residents who were descendants of the regions original settlers. The first Rector in 1772 was the noted William Smith, who was also Rector at Trinity Oxford. All Saints closed briefly during the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777-1778, but reopened soon afterwards and has remained active ever since. By 1835 it had grown large enough to become independent of Trinity Oxford. The original 1772 building was enlarged in 1812 and then replaced by the current building in 1855.


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Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1807 Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1807
According to church tradition, a prayer group of some twenty-eight members of Frankfords African American community began meeting in 1807 in the home of Sarah Congo, located on what is now Plum Street in the heart of Frankfords black community. This group would form the nucleus of what would become Campbell AME Church. Later, they acquired a building a few blocks away on what is now Kinsey Street and began holding services there. The current building contains cornerstones noting that it was rebuilt in 1818 and 1870. The 1870 building is still in use and has an inscription that refers to the Church as 2nd AME, indicating that it was the second African Methodist Episcopal church established after Mother Bethel, the nations first AME Church, which was founded by Richard Allen in the late 1700s. In the 1860s Second Bethel was renamed Campbell in honor of Jabez Pitt Campbell, a mid-nineteenth century AME bishop. As the first, and for many years only, institution in Frankford that was controlled and supported entirely by African Americans, Campbell AME has played an important role in the religious, social, and civic life of the areas black community for over two centuries.

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For more information contact Project Director Jack McCarthy at 215-824-1636 / jacksnotes88@verizon.net