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Member Saturday: From Abandoned Building to Stabilized Ruin

November 16, 2019, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Member Saturday: From Abandoned Building to Stabilized Ruin

Members only. 

This event is free for all members. Reserve free tickets online at or call 215-236-5111 x224. Space is limited. Not a Member? Join today! Questions? Email us at [email protected].

Join us on the third Saturday of every month for a new members-only program.

Experience Eastern State as only members can, through exclusive tours on the third Saturday of each month at 11:00 am. These unique, members-only events shed light on new historical findings, take you behind the scenes, and much more. Discover our collections, explore our site, illuminate history, and make unexpected connections.

November Member Saturday: From Abandoned Building to Stabilized Ruin

When a group of architects, preservationists and historians came together to save Eastern State Penitentiary from redevelopment, they knew a monumental task lay before them. In the years that it sat abandoned, the penitentiary became overrun by plant growth, suffered extensive water damage, and fell prey to vandalism. Complete restoration would be far too costly, and it wouldn’t honor the full history of the site, including the eerie beauty of those years when it looked more like an urban forest than a prison.

Join Sally Elk, President & CEO, and Liz Trumbull, Manager, Historic Preservation and Architectural Conservation, to learn about the decision to preserve Eastern State as it stands today using a stabilized ruin approach. Then, see this philosophy in action. Tour the site with Liz and Sally for a look at some ongoing stabilization and preservation projects.

About Sally: Sally was one of the organizing members of the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force in 1988 while working for the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the City’s preservation agency. She has contributed to the preservation and development of the penitentiary as a cultural site since the beginning of the project. She joined Eastern State as its first Executive Director in 1999. She holds a M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in architectural conservation. She also serves of the boards of the Parkway Council (Museum District) and Friends of the Rail Park and recently rotated off of a nine-year term on the board of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

About Liz: Liz oversees historic preservation efforts throughout Eastern State. She conducts long-range planning activities to identify future building needs while engaging in day-to-day preservation management by working closely with contractors and our tech team. She is also developing a conservation training program at Eastern State to create job training opportunities in the preservation trades for local Philadelphians. Before coming to Eastern State, Liz worked as a structural engineer in Chicago, where she specialized in façade investigations and adaptive reuse projects for existing and historic buildings throughout the city. She received her M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University.

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner