"Nothing But a Cheap Modern Hamburger Stand"

On April 21 the full House Committee on Public Lands met to consider the subcommittee's recommendation to approve H.R. 5053, as amended, with elimination of Project B. Chairman Welch immediately reiterated his belief that the area should be included: Although Projects B and E bordered several churches, no federal funds would be spent to acquire property belonging to a sectarian organization. A question was raised on Franklin Court, since it was not certain that anything remained of Franklin's house or print shop. However, the committee agreed that the site should be included because of its importance to Philadelphians. A committee member then brought up Project D, the site of the Graff House, where Jefferson had composed the Declaration of Independence. Despite its illustrious associations, the site was now "nothing but a cheap modern hamburger stand," and there had been no indication of plans to develop it. The committee appeared to be in sympathy with this view. At this juncture Lewis recalled turning to solicit Hopkinson's opinion. In a whispered exchange, the two agreed that it would be wise to settle for 80 percent of what they wanted. In terms of land area they were, in fact, getting more than 90 percent of what they had proposed. Without further debate, the committee proceeded to a unanimous vote recommending passage of the National Park Service's version of the bill, but restoring Projects B and E and dropping Project D, with an authorization of $4,435,000 for property acquisition.

Before the bill went to the full House of Representatives, the National Park Service managed to effect two changes. Project B, south of Walnut Street, was reduced in size so that it ended on Manning Street north of St. Mary's Cemetery, thus eliminating the discontinuous section that ran south to Pine Street. The Jayne Building, probably at Charles Peterson's behest, was added to the list of buildings to be preserved. Although there was every indication that the bill would pass easily, Lewis continued to lobby. He wooed the legislators on their own ground. He entertained congressmen, sometimes over a hundred at a time, at a series of dinners and luncheons at the Congressional Hotel, explaining the proposed park and its importance to the country.