Philadelphia National Shrines Park Commission

One step in that direction was to eschew total dependency on the federal government. In early 1945 Lewis approached Gov. Edward Martin. He presented the case for the north mall and was delighted to find Martin receptive. By October the Pennsylvania legislature had voted to undertake development of the mall and had authorized $4 million for the purpose. Meanwhile, real progress had been made toward creation of a national park. With the surrender of Germany and ultimate victory in sight, Congress was beginning to consider potential peacetime projects. In April, after months of hesitation, members of the House Committee on Public Lands finally visited Philadelphia. In June Rep. Michael J. Bradley, now the local sponsor for the bill, triumphantly telegraphed Lewis that H.R. 2551, establishing a commission to study creation of a park, had been reported out of committee. By this time the bill had the support not only of the committee, but also of the House leadership. The House passed the bill unanimously in September; the Senate followed suit in November. The judge's dual goal seemed within his grasp, with the state prepared to fund the north mall and the federal government taking the first steps toward creating a national park to the east. Once again, however, there were delays. News reports of the state's proposed participation reached Washington and caused confusion about the federal role. Mayor Samuel stepped in as mediator, clarifying that the state's interest was confined to the area north of Independence Hall. Finally, after almost four years of effort, Public Law 711 was enacted on August 9, 1946. It called for creating a seven-member commission, known as the Philadelphia National Shrines Park Commission, to investigate the establishment of a national park "to encompass within its area the buildings of historical significance in the old part of the city of Philadelphia."

Almost as a matter of course, judge Lewis became the commission's chairman. The other members were the realtor Albert M. Greenfield, serving as vice-chairman; George McAneny, a prominent New York preservationist, president of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society and also of the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, which still occupied the Second Bank; two members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, Rep. Robert N. McGarvey and Sen. Francis J. Myers; Judge Hugh Martin Morris; and the author and biographer of Franklin, Carl Van Doren. The group held its first meeting in Philadelphia on November 15. One of its earliest decisions was to retain an architect to draw plans for the park. Although Larson had served the Independence Hall Association in this capacity from its formation, Lewis wanted an architect more in sympathy with his concept of an expansive thrust to the east. The choice was Grant M. Simon, a talented delineator capable of translating Lewis's ideas into attractive watercolor renderings.