Discover / Joe Frazier’s Gym
Save a National Treasure
REGION: Northeast
LOCATION:
Philadelphia, PA
TYPE: Building
It was here that Joe Frazier trained for his victorious bout against Muhammad Ali. | Photo: Pete Marovich
It was here that Joe Frazier trained for his victorious bout against Muhammad Ali. | Photo: Pete Marovich
Opportunity
To landmark the place where a sports legend trained.

Overview

Inside this modest, three-story brick building, Joe Frazier – a gold medal winner at the 1964 Olympics and later Heavyweight Champion of the World – trained for his victorious bout against Muhammad Ali. Today, the converted warehouse where Smokin' Joe perfected his punch is home to a discount furniture store and two floors of vacant space. Despite growing interest in commemorating Frazier's life (he died in 2011), the gym is unprotected; it enjoys no formal historic designation at the local or national level.

National Significance

Winning historic designation at the local level for the building Frazier owned and operated will demonstrate the power of communities to protect the places that tell their diverse stories. Similarly, inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places will promote the value of diversity within this roster of our country's most important historic resources.

Campaign Goals

  • Raise $10,000 to cover the administrative costs of nominating Joe Frazier Gym to both the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Develop a viable preservation plan for the property.
  • Identify a friendly buyer or developer to purchase the building.

Ways To Help

Donate to our campaign to save Joe Frazier's Gym.

Tell us why Joe Frazier's Gym matters to you.

Posted on August 08, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

Last week, the Metro Newspaper in Philadelphia wrote a story about Bernard Hopkins’ desire to acquire and redevelop Joe Frazier’s Gym into a community resource to build tomorrow’s diverse leaders. He said,

"I would want to be able to make a bid for the gym, and I will request the city back me as a non-profit to make the gym not only a boxing gym but make it more of a learning center for the youth — learning how to eat, learning karate, learning self defense. It has to be something given to the community, to the youth." - See more at: http://www.metro.us/newyork/news/local/2014/07/27/bernard-hopkins-plans-buy-joe-fraziers-gym-help/#sthash.SWzueGuE.dpuf.

This news is music to our ears. We stand ready to help Bernard Hopkins reach this important vision to return the gym back to active use as a sustainable community asset.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on January 10, 2014

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

Preservationists want to find a path to long-term preservation and a financially sustainable business model for reusing Joe Frazier’s Gym. To do that, our next step is to seek the advice and expertise from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Philadelphia chapter to assess opportunities for rehabilitating the historic Joe Frazier’s Gym on North Broad Street. With a grant from the National Trust, the Preservation Alliance will submit a proposal to participate in the ULI Philadelphia Technical Assistance Program (TAP) in April 2014.

Joe Frazier passed away in November 2011 and unfortunately was unable to realize his vision for the gym, which was to transform the property into a boxing museum and community center. Today, the 15,000 SF, modest, three-story brick building is partially used as a discount furniture store in the former ground-floor gym and the upper two floors are vacant.

In the coming months, we’ll share the recommendations made by the panel of design professionals. In the meantime, if you have your own ideas about the future of the gym and what it should be, please share your thoughts with us http://www.savingplaces.org/treasures/joe-fraziers-gym.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. - See more at: http://www.savingplaces.org/treasures/joe-fraziers-gym

 

 

Posted on June 20, 2013

Brent Leggs head shotWritten by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

On the morning of June 14th, I had the privilege to witness the Philadelphia Historical Commission designate Joe Frazier’s Gym as a Philadelphia Historic Landmark. In that moment, the same excitement that I once felt as a kid walking through the gates at Disney World, I would experience again. I wanted to celebrate in a joyous way, but instead I silently applauded the day with a big smile. I smiled knowing the gym is safe from demolition and the front façade will forever have three words etched in stone, “Joe Frazier’s Gym.”

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.joe frazier gloves

 

 

Posted on April 30, 2013

Head shot for Brent LeggsWritten by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

Smokin’ Joe Frazier is somewhere smiling today. His beloved gym http://savingplaces.org/treasures/joe-fraziers-gym is listed in the nation’s national inventory of significant historic places. The naming of the building to the National Register of Historic Places builds recognition for Frazier’s legacy and it commemorates a remarkable life once lived. We’re proud of our contribution to this effort and the excellent work of our National Treasure team.

Kudos to the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Temple University, Heritage Consulting Group, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and National Park Service for protecting American history.

My fingers are crossed for more good news to come. The Philadelphia Historical Commission will consider the gym for local designation on June 14th. If successful, our vision to protect Joe Frazier’s Gym, to celebrate Frazier’s life, and to make available federal historic tax credits will be achieved.  

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on January 29, 2013

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager 

 When the Smoke ClearsOn October 16, the National Trust and Temple University's Department of Architecture co-hosted "A Smokin' Good Night," a film screening of Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears, a critically-acclaimed documentary about Frazier's life released this year. Following the screening, we held a panel discussion with an eclectic mix of speakers. The evening was a great success and was an inspirational rallying cry for saving Joe Frazier's Gym. The audience of about 100 people included Temple students and faculty, local preservationists, members of the Frazier family, community advocates, and media. 

The evening opened with an introduction by Quenell Jones of New York City, director of photography for the film. He shared their four-year process for making the film and stories about Frazier.  

The film brought clarity to Frazier's remarkable, yet difficult life. Parts of the film had the audience laughing at the screen as the documentary traced Frazier's early childhood in South Carolina through his retirement in Philadelphia. The film perfectly captured the importance of the gym not only as a training ground for Frazier, but also as a haven for young people facing the temptations of street life in an underserved community in Philly. The film changed my assumptions about Frazier. Unlike Muhammad Ali, Frazier was a quiet activist, working daily to preserve the fragile spirit of youth nearly lost to the tough streets of his beloved city. After you watch this film, you'll better understand why Frazier's story is exceptional and worthy of preservation. 

Each member of the diverse panel brought a unique perspective to the conversation. Diane Turner, director of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, made introductions of the panelists. Ann Dinh, a Temple University student and architecture major, has helped lead the fight to save the gym and to conduct the first level of research for the local nomination. Jeanie Kahnke is the vice president of communications at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and a strong advocate for protecting the legacy of African American boxers. Vernoca Michael is a boxing promoter, co-owner of the Legendary Blue Horizon, and leading preservationist in Philadelphia. Nathaniel Popkin is editorial and research director at Hidden City Philadelphia, where he helps to raise awareness about forgotten historic places and then challenges the public into action. 

I had the good fortune to moderate the discussion about the value of preserving the gym, how local preservationists can help, and what Frazier's legacy and this site mean to Philadelphia and the nation. I also wanted to make the connection between the film and gym, showcasing the different ways in which we save history in the 21st century. The emotion from the panel and audience expressed a growing commitment for saving local history, and most importantly the gym. At the end of the program, two students unfamiliar to this work were inspired to ask how they could get involved. Frazier's nephew thanked everyone supporting this cause. It was certainly a good night in Philadelphia! I want to thank my colleague Andy Grabel at the National Trust for making this a wonderful event.

Following the screening, Kultur International Films has offered the National Trust a profit sharing opportunity to help us save the gym. Each DVD purchased using the coupon code JFNT will receive a $2.00 discount from the purchase price of $19.99. At a 60/40 split, the National Trust will get $7.20 for each DVD purchased with the coupon code JFNT. Please support us by purchasing the film. They'd make a great holiday gift! Use this link to place your order: http://www.kultur.com/Joe-Frazier-p/d4793.htm

Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming online interview with Nathaniel Hopkins about efforts to protect the gym at Hidden City Philadelphia.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on January 28, 2013

Joe Fraizer RunningWritten by Andy Grabel, Team Member

Posted on January 28, 2013

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and its preservation partners hosted a film screening of the documentary, "Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears" at Temple University last fall that received an overwhelming response from attendees. The film about Frazier's life that spotlights the importance of saving his gym in Philadelphia resonated with students, faculty, local preservationists and community activists alike. In an effort to reach a wider audience with the film and raise funds to support preservation of the gym, the National Trust entered into an agreement Kultur International Films LTD., Inc. recently, in which the National Trust receives a portion of the proceeds from sales of the documentary DVD.

The National Trust will receive 40 percent of the discounted sale price ($17.99), or $7.20, on any sale of the DVD. To watch a clip of the film or purchase a DVD, visit http://www.kultur.com/Joe-Frazier-p/d4793.htm. Enter the unique code "JFNT" to support us in protecting an iconic historic site and receive a discount on purchase of the DVD.

After watching the film, share your stories and thoughts on our Saving Places website: http://savingplaces.org/treasures/joe-fraziers-gym.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on December 06, 2012

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

Saving places works best through collaboration, often because it takes many invested partners to make preservation projects financially feasible.

This is why securing free technical services from reputable consulting firms can be an essential strategy for reducing program costs, helping to advance a preservation project and to keep it on schedule. Thankfully, through the leadership of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, a partner has been secured to write the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Joe Frazier's Gym free of charge.

Heritage Consulting Group is a national leader in historic tax credits and real estate redevelopment consulting, providing broad strategic direction to the owners and developers of historic buildings across the country. Founded in 1982, with offices in Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, they’ve established a “Giving Program” to do just that – give back to preservation projects in the communities where they work.

The Philadelphia Heritage Consulting Group has prepared a National Register nomination for the gym, which will create the potential for a future owner to utilize historic tax credits to rehabilitate the building. The nomination has already been submitted to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (our state historic preservation office) for review in the spring of 2013.

If the nomination process is successful, the gym will become one of this nation’s first National Register listings associated to a person from the 1970s. This will be a precedent-setting moment for the field of historic preservation.

We are thankful to Heritage Consulting Group for advancing this important piece of the effort to save Joe Frazier's Gym. Please feel free to send them a thank you note for caring about diverse historic places: Heritage Consulting Group, Philadelphia Office, 15 West Highland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on November 28, 2012

Written by Brian Turner, Project Manager 

 When the Smoke ClearsOn October 16, the National Trust and Temple University’s Department of Architecture co-hosted "A Smokin’ Good Night," a film screening of Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears, a critically-acclaimed documentary about Frazier’s life released this year. Following the screening, we held a panel discussion with an eclectic mix of speakers. The evening was a great success and was an inspirational rallying cry for saving Joe Frazier's Gym. The audience of about 100 people included Temple students and faculty, local preservationists, members of the Frazier family, community advocates, and media. 

The evening opened with an introduction by Quenell Jones of New York City, director of photography for the film. He shared their four-year process for making the film and stories about Frazier.  

The film brought clarity to Frazier’s remarkable, yet difficult life. Parts of the film had the audience laughing at the screen as the documentary traced Frazier’s early childhood in South Carolina through his retirement in Philadelphia. The film perfectly captured the importance of the gym not only as a training ground for Frazier, but also as a haven for young people facing the temptations of street life in an underserved community in Philly. The film changed my assumptions about Frazier. Unlike Muhammad Ali, Frazier was a quiet activist, working daily to preserve the fragile spirit of youth nearly lost to the tough streets of his beloved city. After you watch this film, you’ll better understand why Frazier’s story is exceptional and worthy of preservation. 

Each member of the diverse panel brought a unique perspective to the conversation. Diane Turner, director of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, made introductions of the panelists. Ann Dinh, a Temple University student and architecture major, has helped lead the fight to save the gym and to conduct the first level of research for the local nomination. Jeanie Kahnke is the vice president of communications at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and a strong advocate for protecting the legacy of African American boxers. Vernoca Michael is a boxing promoter, co-owner of the Legendary Blue Horizon, and leading preservationist in Philadelphia. Nathaniel Popkin is editorial and research director at Hidden City Philadelphia, where he helps to raise awareness about forgotten historic places and then challenges the public into action. 

I had the good fortune to moderate the discussion about the value of preserving the gym, how local preservationists can help, and what Frazier’s legacy and this site mean to Philadelphia and the nation. I also wanted to make the connection between the film and gym, showcasing the different ways in which we save history in the 21st century. The emotion from the panel and audience expressed a growing commitment for saving local history, and most importantly the gym. At the end of the program, two students unfamiliar to this work were inspired to ask how they could get involved. Frazier’s nephew thanked everyone supporting this cause. It was certainly a good night in Philadelphia! I want to thank my colleague Andy Grabel at the National Trust for making this a wonderful event.

Following the screening, Kultur International Films has offered the National Trust a profit sharing opportunity to help us save the gym. Each DVD purchased using the coupon code JFNT will receive a $2.00 discount from the purchase price of $19.99. At a 60/40 split, the National Trust will get $7.20 for each DVD purchased with the coupon code JFNT. Please support us by purchasing the film. They’d make a great holiday gift! Use this link to place your order: http://www.kultur.com/Joe-Frazier-p/d4793.htm

Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming online interview with Nathaniel Hopkins about efforts to protect the gym at Hidden City Philadelphia.

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on October 09, 2012

Joe Frazier's GymOn Tuesday, October 16, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Temple University’s Department of Architecture will co-host "A Smokin’ Good Night," a celebration of boxer Joe Frazier’s legacy and his gym.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a screening of Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears, a critically-acclaimed documentary about Frazier’s life released this year. The film will be followed by a panel discussion at 7:20 p.m. on the intersection between storytelling and multimedia, the value of preserving historic places such as Joe Frazier’s Gym, and why local preservationists keep history present in the public’s imagination. 

Panelists include: 

  • Ann Dinh, Temple University Student
  • Jeanie Kahnke, Vice President of Communications at Muhammad Ali Center
  • Vernoca Michael, Boxing Promoter and Co-owner of the Legendary Blue Horizon
  • Nathaniel Popkin, Editorial and Research Director at Hidden City Philadelphia

Event location: Temple University Student Center, The Reel, 1755 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on July 19, 2012

Written by Brent Leggs, Project Manager

I’m Brent Leggs, the National Trust’s project manager for Joe Frazier’s Gym. I look forward to providing you frequent updates as we not only work to achieve local and national designation for Joe Frazier’s Gym, but also begin important planning for the building's future rehabilitation. This work is being done in close collaboration with the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and Temple University’s School of Architecture.

We've recently made some progress towards designation. Two Temple University students who were tasked with writing the local nomination submitted their final draft to the Preservation Alliance for review. Even with this step done, we are continuing to collect additional research needed to build our case for local designation. I’m also excited to share that Heritage Consulting Firm in Philadelphia has offered pro bono services to prepare the national nomination.

Besides designation, we need to better understand the market context for the building's highest and best use. This will help us in our goal to ultimately find a preservation-friendly buyer for the structure. To get us started, Urban Partners in Philadelphia has been engaged to prepare the market study. To advance this piece of the project, we need to raise $5,000.

Beyond that, there’s more good news to share. In June 2012, the United States Olympic Hall of Fame held a private reception in honor of Joe Frazier’s life and boxing legacy. He was the 1964 heavyweight gold medalist in Japan, winning with a broken thumb. At the end of July 2012, the documentary film, Joe Frazier:  When the Smoke Clearswill be released in the United States. A British filmmaker produced it, and it is captivating to watch. It gives insights into the man Joe Frazier, his career, and the broader black experience in America, while also offering rarely seen images of the gym. Both the film and the Olympic tribute reveal the international community’s admiration for Joe Frazier.

There is much more to come over the next few months. We look forward to attaining local designation, making Joe Frazier’s Gym a Philadelphia landmark, and listing it in the National Register of Historic Places. Once listed, Joe Frazier’s Gym will be included in our national inventory of the more than 87,000 historic places. To date, nearly 1,800 historic places listed are directly associated with African American history. 

Please check back often for additional updates on Joe Frazier's Gym. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Ben Leech on June 06, 2012
I was new to Philadelphia the first time I passed 2917 N. Broad Street, and I did a double-take seeing the "Joe Frazier’s Gym" ghost sign out of the corner of my eye. "THE Joe Frazier?" I'm embarrassed to admit it now, but at the time, my knowledge of Philly boxing began and ended with Rocky, and I had no idea that Philadelphia was home to a real world champion, too. This building still has a lot of stories to tell and a lot of things to teach us.
Dennis Playdon on June 06, 2012
Last summer while driving past Joe Frazier’s Gym on N. Broad Street, I was surprised to see a "For Sale" sign up on the building. About to begin a new architectural preservation course at Temple University, I thought to bring the site to the attention of my students. My intention was to have the students nominate the building as an endangered structure. Sadly, when my letter to Joe Frazier went unacknowledged, we discovered he was seriously ill in hospital. The building was eventually sold to a commercial enterprise. We had proposed immortalizing the gym through a thorough documentation and the creation of an interactive website. We are partnering now with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia to preserve what most consider a national treasure.

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