President Joe Biden’s National Park Service announced Friday that the renovation of Philadelphia’s Welcome Park will include the permanent removal of the historic William Penn statue.
A press release by the National Park Service states, “The National Park Service proposes to rehabilitate Welcome Park to provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors.”
The National Park Service’s press release explains that Philadelphia’s Welcome Park was originally designed by Venturi & Scott Brown Associates. Located at the Slate Roof House, William Penn’s former home, the historic park was named “Welcome” after the ship that transported Penn to Philadelphia. The park was initially completed in 1982, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Penn’s arrival in Philadelphia.
According to USHistory.org, Penn joined the Quakers when he was 22 years old. The Quakers were known for their religious faith, their refusal to swear any oaths, their refusal to bear arms, and their leadership in the abolition of slavery as the “first religious movement to condemn slavery.”
In Friday’s press release, the National Park Service explained, “The proposed rehabilitation of Welcome Park includes expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia and was developed in consultation with representatives of the indigenous nations.”
“The Penn statue and Slate Roof house model will be removed and not reinstalled,” the National Park Service added. “In a separate and future effort, new exhibit panels will be installed on the south site wall to replace the Penn timeline.”
The decision by the National Parks Service to remove the historic William Penn statue has been met with criticism from multiple Republican leaders in Pennsylvania.
In a statement obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said, “The decision by President Biden and his administration to try and cancel William Penn out of whole cloth is another sad example of the left in this country scraping the bottom of the barrel of wokeism to advance an extreme ideology and a nonsensical view of history.”
Cutler explained that the removal of the William Penn statue would result in an “absurd and revisionist view” of Pennsylvania’s state history. He argued that as the founder of Pennsylvania, Penn’s historical treaty with Native American tribes featured “mutual respect shown between Penn and Native tribes.”
In a post on social media, Pennsylvania State Sen. Scott Martin (R-Berks) described the decision to remove the statue as “absolutely disgraceful.”
“For anyone to think doing this to the founder of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, which was the epicenter of freedom and our nation’s founding, was a good idea, is completely absurd,” Martin wrote.