Ryan Briggs Ryan Briggs is a staff writer and connoisseur of City Hall intrigue, business dealings, neighborhood gossip and local lore. Ryan has studied, worked and resided in Philadelphia since 2004, covering politics and development issues for Hidden City, Next City and Metropolis, amongst other fine publications.
A rendering of the new mural.
The Mural Arts Program announced today that it will begin the process of restoring a mural of legendary Mantua activist Herman Wrice that has been covered up by development in the neighborhood.
Wrice, who died in 2000, was the charismatic founder of Mantua Against Drugs, a group that became nationally recognized for its direct-intervention approach toward crime. With Wrice leading the way, groups of neighbors organized against and confronted street drug dealers. Their sometimes-controversial tactics (Wrice was known for tacking up "wanted" posters of drug dealers and blasting open the doors of crack houses with a sledgehammer) drew death threats from Mantua's underworld yet was immensely popular among the neighbors.
Wrice's appropriately larger-than-life image on the side of a building loomed over 34th and Spring Garden for years, immortalized by the Mural Arts Program. When it was obstructed by the construction of several new rowhomes, program director Jane Golden said she was personally saddened by the loss. This year, a new location was chosen for the mural — on one of the newly renovated Mount Vernon Manor apartment buildings at 33rd and Mount Vernon streets. The spot is about two blocks away from the old mural, and it will be an exact reproduction.
Mural Arts is currently seeking volunteers to assist in the restoration.
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