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Sarah Dickson Lowrie Biography of Eli Kirk Price


Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

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Named after his grandfather, who was a highly regarded real estate attorney in Philadelphia, ELI KIRK PRICE (1860-1933) also shared the elder's sense of civic duty. Just as the grandfather established the city's 8,900-acre Fairmount Park, both men served on its Commission. At the time the younger Price was serving as its vice president, the Fairmount Park Commission was charged with overseeing the construction of a new building on a hill in Fairmount for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Commission was also responsible for the Museum's public funding. Price was a critical player in that project and remained a vital associate of the Museum, serving on its Board of Trustees and as the corporation president from 1926 until his death in 1933. In 1928, Price received the Philadelphia Award, an annual recognition of a citizen's service on behalf of the community. Eli Kirk Price was a descendant of Philip ap Rhys, who came to America from Wales at the end of the 17th century. On a deed for a tract of land in the Haverford, Pennsylvania area, the family name was recorded as "Price." His parents were John Sergeant Price (1831-1897) and Sarah Anne (nee Baker) (1837-1908). Price's wife was Evelyn Taylor, whom he married in 1896.

As implied in the preface to her biography of Eli Kirk Price, SARAH DICKSON LOWRIE (1870-1957) was a lifelong observer and commentator of Philadelphia and activist. In addition to her position with the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Lowrie was one of the original members of the women's Committee of 1926. Organized at the mayor's invitation, the Committee took an active role in the second world's fair hosted by Philadelphia to commemorate the country's sesqui-centennial celebration of independence. Their project "High Street" was Lowrie's idea and took its title from the original name of the main thoroughfare that divides the city north and south. The project involved a re-creation of a late 18th century cityscape that included the building of 20 replica houses. After the sesqui-centennial, the Committee of 1926 took on the restoration, furnishing and administering of Strawberry Mansion, one of the 18th-century homes in Fairmount Park. The Committee continues to administer the home today. Lowrie served as its corresponding secretary and during the 1930s she and Museum director Fiske Kimball exchanged letters regarding certain furnishings for the house. Lowrie also wrote or was co-editor of three titles published for the Committee of 1926. Her subjects were "Notable Women of Pennsylvania," High Street and Strawberry Mansion. Lowrie was also active in social reform. Using a dinner party of the retail magnate and fellow reformer John Wanamaker as her stage, Lowrie proposed the establishment of public baths to improve the sanitation conditions of the working poor. The suggestion came to fruition when in 1895 the Public Bath Association of Philadelphia was granted incorporation. One of Lowrie's more formal speaking engagements included an address given to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia in 1953 about Charles Thomson, who served as secretary to the Continental Congress.

    Works Consulted
  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Includes Dickson correspondence in Series 1., Subseries. 1933-1937. Fiske Kimball Records.
  2. Bulletin (Pennsylvania Museum of Art) (May 1931) "Strawberry." Part II of vol. 26.
  3. (Collection 1999) Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Public Baths Association of Philadelphia Records.

"Price Papers" is the original bound typescript compiled by Sarah Dickson Lowrie that she intended to publish as a biography of Eli Kirk Price (1870-1933), a well-known civic leader, who was closely associated with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The work documents Price's life and career, as well as the story of his Quaker ancestors and their interactions with the history of the city of Philadelphia. The volume is richly illustrated with maps, clippings, ephemera and photographs and includes some correspondence and typescripts of family letters. According to a June 1936 letter from the vice president of the Philadelphia publishers J.B. Lippincott Company, publication costs and copyright issues prevented their acceptance of Lowrie's work. She presented the volume to the Museum later that year.

Gift of Sarah D. Lowrie to the Library, 1936. The volume, originally accessioned as rare book material, was transferred to Archives in 1990.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a similar volume, manuscript collection no. 526.

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The Sarah Dickson Lowrie Biography of Eli Kirk Price is the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated

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