No changes planned to William Penn statue in Philly, park service says

Independence National Historical Park has withdrawn the review of a draft proposal to rehabilitate Welcome Park and closed the public comment period, the National Park Service (NPS) said Monday.

The preliminary draft proposal, which was released prematurely and had not been subject to a complete internal agency review, is being retracted. No changes to the William Penn statue are planned, according to the press release, which continued: “The National Park Service remains committed to rehabilitating Welcome Park as the nation prepares to commemorate 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.”

A proposal to renovate and redesign a Philadelphia park steamed some members of the state GOP as well as many online commenters, mainly because it involved removing a statue of William Penn. The National Park Service unveiled its proposal on Jan. 5 to make Welcome Park a “more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors.”

The redevelopment would offer an “expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia” as well as a new planted buffer on three sides, and a ceremonial gathering space with circular benches, according to the proposal.

Said Gov. Josh Shapiro in a post Monday evening on X: “My team has been in contact with the Biden Administration throughout the day to correct this decision. I’m pleased Welcome Park will remain the rightful home of this William Penn statue — right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Penn founded.”

Pa. Sen. Bob Casey added similar sentiments on his X account: “I heard concerns that there were plans to permanently remove William Penn’s statue from Welcome Park. After checking in with the Department of the Interior, I’m pleased to report that there are no plans to remove William Penn at this time.”

The park is located on the site of William Penn’s home, the Slate Roof House, and is named for the ship, Welcome, which transported Penn to Philadelphia. The design and construction of Welcome Park was funded by the Independence Historical Trust and was completed in 1982, the release said.

Updates on the project can be found on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/INDE.

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