Preserving and Celebrating Joe Frazier’s Gym

October 22, 2015 by Brent Leggs

Philadelphia has a rich boxing history, both real and fictional. One iconic structure from the city’s real life history - Joe Frazier’s Gym - is now protected from demolition and adverse alterations, and well on its way to finding a new use. In partnership with the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia, Temple University, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Heritage Consulting Group, Urban Land Institute, and Ian Smith Design, the National Trust used historic preservation tools, real estate planning, and marketing to preserve Frazier’s legacy and buy time for the future redevelopment of this national treasure. Thanks to a collaborative effort by a team of preservationists, between June 2012 and August 2015, the gym has been:

  • Designated as a Philadelphia Historic Landmark;
  • Listed in the National Register of Historic Places;
  • Assessed by the Urban Land Institute’s Technical Assistance Panel;
  • Evaluated in a feasibility study for a potential investor on the site’s redevelopment potential; and,
  • Featured at a film screening co-hosted by the National Trust and Temple University.

Winning historic designation at the local and national level for the building Frazier owned and operated has promoted the value of diversity within this roster of our country’s most important historic resources. Designation as a Philadelphia landmark protects the gym from negative alterations and demolition, and National Register listing makes available historic tax credits on qualified rehabilitation costs. In addition, the ULI Technical Assistance Panel and feasibility study were strategic planning exercises on the gym’s potential for redevelopment. Read the full ULI report here.

The gym stands today as a prominent reminder of Frazier’s legacy in the cultural heritage of Philadelphia and the nation, and as such, merits ongoing support and investment to honor his remarkable life. Over the coming months, the National Trust will continue supporting the Preservation Alliance and City by disseminating the results from the feasibility study with Bernard Hopkins and other preservation-friendly buyers. Thanks to a collaborative effort by national and local preservation groups, Joe Frazier’s Gym is now listed as a “success” in the National Trust’s revolving portfolio of National Treasures.

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