STORY WRITTEN BY BERNARD J. SCALLY
@MrBScally on Twitter
East Falls — In a small corner of Falls Center, a princess is remembered.
Born and raised only a few blocks away, Grace Kelly is an East Falls, Philadelphia and Hollywood legend. The East Falls Historical Society has spent the past three years organizing the Grace Kelly Gallery.
EFHS member Patty Cheeks and fellow member Ellen Sheehan said that a large majority of the exhibition was donated to the EFHS by private collectors, Nicholas and Elizabeth Barranca, who visited during the dedication of Kelly House on Henry Avenue a few years ago.
“So we decided to make the most of it,” said Cheek.
Kelly was educated at Ravenhill Academy, now part of Philadelphia University’s campus. Her early stage career was done at Old Academy Players on Indian Queen Lane, a few blocks downhill from Falls Center. Old Academy Players displays some programs mentioning her. Kelly made 11 feature films in her career before becoming Princess of Monaco.
According to Cheek, a gallery grand opening will be held on May 3. The gallery will feature photographs, stamps, dolls dressed in costumes from Kelly’s films and more. Movie posters line one wall.
“We try to keep them as chronological as possible,” said Cheek.
But not all items come from private collectors, the Kelly family has donated items for the exhibit — some items for just the grand opening event — such as plates and textiles designed by Kelly, Christmas cards and letters. Cheek said the EFHS hopes to display some of Kelly’s dress from Gene London’s collection.
“These are really personal items,” said Sheehan.
The gallery space was donated by property owner Andrew Eisenstein of Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners and painted a soft yellow by historical dociety volunteers as well as students from Philadelphia University. According to Cheek, yellow was Kelly’s favorite color. Cheek said that PhilaU students have volunteered their time in preparing the gallery as well as creating the invitations for the upcoming opening.
The May 3 event will be held at Falls Center, 3300 Henry Ave., from 2 to 4 p.m. and include a high society tea complete with sandwiches, mini scones and petit fours. Cheek said that wine from the “Grace” winery will be donated by Kelly’s nephew, Christopher LeVine.
According to Cheek, the EFHS still writes to the Prince of Monaco “from time to time” to inform him of affairs in his mother’s old neighborhood. Prince Albert II has visited East Falls but, according to Cheek, will be unable to attend the gallery grand opening. Other Kelly family members should be in attendance.
“This is only permanent museum to Grace Kelly in the world,” said Cheek.
Tickets to the grand opening are still available. The cost is $35 for society members, $40 for non-members. For more information, log on to www.eastfallshistoricalsociety.com.