When people think of the Historical scenes in Germantown, Philadelphia people think of the Johnson House, Maxwell Mansion, and the Grumblethorpe site. Yet on the corner of Price and Germantown Avenue exists a unique building that was once filled with lively Civil War Veterans.
The ACES Museum aims to honor Black and Minority Veterans of World War II and their families. Historically, the site was a 'home' to many Veterans and so it now a memorial of their history. During the Vietnam War, the ace of spades was known as the death card.
“It’s a place where black veterans came before they went to war, and some never made it home,” said the founder of ACES, A.V. Hankins, MD, FACP.
Dr. Hankins founded the ACES Museum after a conversation that she had on an airplane sparked her interest. During the conversation, a man handed Dr. Hankins a pamphlet advertising a Negro soldier’s party at 5801 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ironically enough Dr. Hankins was using that building to practice medicine. She began to then discover the history of that location and its significance.
On the third floor was what was known as Parker Hall. In 2002 Parker Hall was certified as a historical site by the Historical Society. The ACES Museum brings an educational component into the museum. They recognize the veterans of WWII, and strive to educate community members about their history.
Despite its historic value, the ACES Museum is currently facing some challenges with Parker Hall. The city is not allowing the museum to open up the floor. As side of those circumstances, the public are welcome to visit the first floor on Tuesdays. Whenever the museum can, they do their best to serve their community.
“We had a wonderful fourth of July program,” said Dr. Hankins.
The event was a celebration and embracing the ships that came back into the city. Dr. Hankins describes them like an “unofficial U.S.O.” Dr. Hankins believes that for a community affected by a negativity, such as drugs, educational programs can be a way to benefit the children within the community. SIn 2004, the ACES Museum added programs for the kids such as the “Puppets with History” show, which is a program that aims to teach children about civil war veterans’ history. This program coincides with ACES’s motto, Respect The Past, Nurture The Future.
“We are now respected,” Dr. Hankins said, “and the daycares and the schools in the area can all benefit from their experience with ACES.”
Dr. Hankins has set high goals for the museum. She would like to see the museum become handicap accessible so that more people can see the exhibits. Dr. Hankins considers WWII to be particularly important for black people because it pushed the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement. By educating members of the Germantown community, she hopes people can become more community-orientated and instead of accepting the 'get rich or die trying' motto promoted by the streets, they can embrace the ACES' view as expressed by Dr. Hankins, "we love you more than money."
For more information about the ACES Museum please visit www.acesmuseum.org or call 215 842-3742.
By Keisha Frazier and Lisa Wilk - Team: 16