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State Historical Marker Will Honor Academy

PHILADELPHIA, April 26, 2012

A new state historical marker will recognize the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for its leading role in biological research in North America and around the world.

Happy 200th anniversary, Academy! The new marker, announced this week by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, will be placed in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district, where it will be in good company with many other familiar blue signs with gold lettering.

But wait, you say. Everyone knows the nation’s oldest natural history museum, is located on Logan Square in the Parkway Museums District of Center City. Correct! But in 1812 when it was founded by a group of amateur naturalists, the Academy was not a grand, public museum with dinosaurs and dioramas that are so familiar to visitors today.

Two centuries ago, the founders began meeting at an apothecary shop at the northwest corner of Second and Markets streets. The building no longer exists, and the corner now is occupied by Wilson’s Park, part of Independence National Historical Park. By the time the Academy was officially born on March 21, 1812 by the signing of a document, the meeting location had moved up the block to Mercer’s Cakes Shop, known then as High Street. The site now is the entrance to Franklin Court.

It will take some time to decide exactly where on Market Street, between Second and Third, to place the historic marker, Academy officials said.

“What a great way to put the icing on the cake, now that the Academy has begun our yearlong Bicentennial!” said Academy President and CEO George W. Gephart, Jr. “We’re delighted to receive this honorable recognition from the museum commission.”

Information about the Academy’s Bicentennial.

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