William Penn statue won't be removed from Philadelphia's Welcome Park after all

Welcome Park at 2nd Street and Sansom Walk is located on the site of William Penn's former home -- the Slate Roof House.

Monday, January 8, 2024
William Penn statue won't be removed from Philadelphia's Welcome Park after all
William Penn statue won't be removed from Philadelphia's Welcome Park after all

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Independence National Historical Park has withdrawn the review of a draft proposal to rehabilitate Welcome Park in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood, which included removing the William Penn statue.

Officials say the preliminary draft proposal -- which suggested the permanent removal of Penn's statue and the Slate Roof House model -- had been released prematurely and had not been subject to a complete internal agency review.

Because of this, it is being retracted. No changes to the William Penn statue are planned, according to park authorities.

After the proposal was withdrawn, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro posted a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating that his office had spoken with the Biden Administration about the possible statue removal.

"I'm pleased Welcome Park will remain the rightful home of this William Penn statue - right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Penn founded," said Shapiro.

Welcome Park at 2nd Street and Sansom Walk is located on the site of William Penn's former home -- the Slate Roof House -- and is named after the ship, Welcome, which brought Penn to Philadelphia.

The site, funded by the Independence Historical Trust, was completed in 1982.

Park officials say they are still committed to rehabilitating Welcome Park as the nation prepares to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

"Upon completion of all the necessary internal reviews, the park looks forward to engaging in a robust public process to consider options for refurbishing the park in the coming years," said the Independence National Historical Park in a news release.

Before the proposal was withdrawn, some residents across Philadelphia had mixed feelings about the potential changes coming to the 41-year-old park.

Pennsylvania House Representative Leader Bryan Cutler thought that taking away Penn's statue would be an attempt to erase history.

"Let's start with the fact that William Penn, his name is literally in our state," said Cutler (R. - Lancaster County). "Attempts to remove him from his home place, I think is unacceptable."

Others said Penn will always be prevalent in the city, statue or not.

"I don't think there's any erasing William Penn in Philadelphia, considering he sits atop City Hall," said Democrat Mary Isaacson, who represents the district where the statue stands.