Premiere Horticultural Event—and Philadelphia Itself—Honor Princess of Monaco
Riviera Holiday—the theme of 191st PHS Philadelphia Flower Show (February 29-March 8, 2020)—evokes not only the citrus trees and lavender sweeps of a refined stretch of the Mediterranean coast. The horticultural tradition also spotlights the life and legacy of the late Grace Kelly, the Philadelphian who became Princess of the Principality of Monaco.
Founded in 1829, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s wintertime exhibit is the nation’s largest and longest-running flower show. In 1976, for America’s bicentennial, Princess Grace returned home to judge the show. The 2020 Flower Show will feature a rose garden reminiscent of Monaco’s Princess Grace Rose Garden, with a replica of Kelly’s wedding dress and archival photos. Events include a Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation-sponsored environmental summit on climate change. Visitors planning to attend the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show can find show-centric hotel deals on the show’s website, or discover more of Philly (and get free parking) by booking the VISIT PHILADELPHIA Overnight Hotel Package.
Grace Kelly was born into an influential family who lived in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. She gained fame in the 1950s as a model, stage and film actor, performing along Gary Cooper in High Noon and becoming Alfred Hitchcock’s muse in Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. At age 26, Kelly left acting to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The couple had three children together; the family returned frequently to Philadelphia. To this day, the region proudly touts its connections to Grace Kelly, American icon. Here are some remarkable spots to experience her legacy:
- Kelly Family Home – Construction magnate John B. Kelly Sr. built this 2.5-story, six-bedroom, brick colonial home in the tree-lined neighborhood of East Falls in the late 1920s for his growing family. One year later, Grace joined her two older siblings there; a fourth sibling came soon after. Sold by the family in 1973, the house returned to the fold in 2016, when Princess Grace’s son, Prince Albert II, purchased it. Prince Albert and his American cousins poured over old photographs of the home in order to restore it to its more original state. One detail remained unchanged: a linen closet door still bears pencil marks noting the changing heights of the Kelly children. A historical marker stands outside the historic home, which currently serves as a private event space for the family and as an office for Prince Albert’s foundation. 3901 Henry Avenue
- John B. Kelly Statue – Kelly Drive, the winding road named for three-time Olympic champion rower, successful Philadelphia businessperson, civic leader and Grace’s father, John B. Kelly Sr., connects East Falls and Boathouse Row. The drive follows the path of scull-dotted Schuylkill River, passing by public art that includes an imposing bronze statue by Harry Rosin (1965) that depicts a clean-cut, broad-shouldered, 31-year-old John B. Kelly, then the world’s best oarsman, in action. Kelly Drive, associationforpublicart.org
- The Logan Hotel – Graphic artist Elizabeth LaGumina offers glamorous glimpses of the life of Grace Kelly in a series of seven modern portraits that progress from floor to floor, beginning with Kelly as a young woman, ending with her in adulthood. The works are part of The Logan’s impressive, property-wide exhibition of artworks by Philadelphians. 1 Logan Square,
(215) 963-1500, theloganhotel.com
- Old Academy Players – A setback circa 1819 East Falls schoolhouse has, since 1923, been home to the Old Academy Players acted there, twice in her uncle George Kelly’s plays, The Torch-Bearers and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Craig’s Wife. During the Flower Show, Sam Shepard’s Buried Child will take the Players’ stage. 3540-44 Indian Queen Lane, (215) 843-1109, oldacademyplayers.org
- St. Bridget Catholic Church – Founded in 1853, East Falls’ Catholic parish proudly displays its Kelly family connections. The ceiling of the circa 1927 church is painted to resemble that of the Monégasque cathedral where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier wed. (Grace’s parents donated this painting as a wedding gift to the parish.) A small case of Kelly family memorabilia includes a photo of Princess Grace, Prince Rainer and their children Caroline, Albert and Stéphanie. Church open to visitors weekdays 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 3667 Midvale Avenue, (215) 884-4126, stbridgeteastfalls.org
- Bucks County Playhouse – In 1949, Kelly made her professional debut in the role of an ingénue in The Torch-Bearers at this circa 1939 Bucks County theater, then and now a stepping stone to Broadway and Hollywood. Today, three Tony Award-winner producers manage the Playhouse, which recently produced a reading of The Torch-Bearers with Kelly’s grandniece, Ginna Le Vine. The Deck, the Playhouse’s restaurant and bar, displays a gorgeous photo of a 19-year-old Kelly from The Torch-Bearers, just as her career was on the rise. (The theater is closed during the Flower Show, but the Deck is open, and groups are welcome by prior arrangement.) 70 S. Main Street, (215) 862-2121, buckscountyplayhouse.org
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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.