On May 31, a funeral like no other will be held in the Mantua neighborhood in Philadelphia. It won't be in honor of a person, but rather, a house that has stood at 3711 Melon Street for at least 114 years.
The boarded-up row house will be knocked down as part of the cultural project Funeral for a Home. The program, based out of Temple University's Tyler School of Art, seeks to "honor neighborhood history," The Associated Press reports, especially in impoverished areas like Mantua. It is a symbolic gesture that gives dignity to now dilapidated but once proud homes.
Instead of a somber funeral, the event will be a joyous "home-going." A dumpster taking away debris will be followed by a parade of drill teams, bands, and residents, who will then gather for a meal. Organizers are hopeful that the idea will resonate in other neighborhoods. "When you see these blighted homes, you forget that they were a thriving part of the community at one point," Tyler School of Art administrator Robert Blackson told The Associated Press.
City officials said that 600 homes are torn down every year in Philadelphia, and 25,000 are vacant. The Melon Street lot won't be empty for long; the developer who purchased the house in 2012 for $15,000 plans on building affordable housing.