Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guv's Wife Kisses Lenfest For $40 Million Grant

Pennsylvania's First Lady thanking Gerry Lenfest for his $40 million  challenge  grant

Gerry Lenfest, dubbed "a modern day founding father" by the Museum of the American Revolution President and CEO Michael Quinn, has announced a $40 million challenge grant to that museum. After a contentious dispute with the National Park Service, the Museum of the American Revolution finally owns the building at 3rd and Chestnut.

There are plans to erect a $150 million building on the site to tell the story of the American Revolution. The museum already owns an impressive collection of artifacts, such as weapons, personal correspondence and flags, from the era. Robert A. M. Stern, the dean of Yale's School of Architecture, has been chosen to design the building.

If Philadelphia ever becomes a world class city, it would be due to the generosity and tireless efforts of Gerry Lenfest. He is behind the move of the magnificent Barnes Collection to Philadelphia and is a beneficent supporter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Curtis Institute.

Lenfest explained this donation, "I am an American. That is why the story of the American Revolution is important to me."

His favorite artifact in the museum's collection is George Washington's tent. "He not only slept there in Pennsylvania. It is where he commanded the war."

Susan Corbett, the wife of Governor Corbett, called the gift 'breathtaking". After kindly re kissing Lenfest for the cameras, she joked, "I have not kissed that much in a long time." I was tempted to ask about the governor. (BTW, our First Lady is a lot prettier and relaxed in person.)

Corbett explained that her love of history came from studying English and being an English teacher.

"I love stories. History is stories of people."

Nutter probably gave the best reason to build the Museum of the American Revolution.

"I would not be mayor of Philadelphia without the foresight of our founding fathers."

Of course, George Washington made an appearance. Michael  Quinn, the museum's  president and CEO on  right,
Nutter said that Gerry Lenfest called and personally asked him to come today. "Gerry rarely calls. The calls go the other day. When he calls, I pay attention."

I am not surprised that Lenfest does not demand much from elected officials. Other than writing checks, he never acts like he has money. When I asked where his lovely wife Marguerite was, Lenfest answered, "She had to stay home to wash the kitchen floor." That probably is not a joke. The Lenfests do not have a maid.

Nutter has a real knack for making pro forma speeches funny, which is a talent I wished that more politicians had. "Hearing the Curtis Institute student sing the national anthem at the beginning of the program, I wish I had gone to Curtis. Even if I had, I still would not be able to sing."

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