The long awaited Pennsylvania Historical Marker honoring the Kelly Family was dedicated on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 1:00 p.m. at McMichael Park, 3800 Henry Avenue. The marker honors John B. Kelly, Sr., born in East Falls and a three time Olympic gold medal winner for rowing in the 1920 and 1924 International Olympic Games.
A successful businessman, he founded “Kelly for Brickwork” and built the house at 3901 Henry Avenue in 1925. His children grew up in the house: Margaret Katherine “Peggy” and John Brendan, Jr. “Kell, or Jack”; Her Serene Highness Princess Grace “Grace”, and Elizabeth Anne “Lizanne”.
His son, John Brendan Kelly, Jr. won the Royal Henley Regatta in 1947 and a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics. A World War II veteran and Philadelphia City Councilman, Kelly Drive was named for him.
Princess Grace began her acting career at old Academy Playhouse in East Falls. Grace Kelly was a Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actress. She married Prince Ranier III of Monaco and was Princess Consort of Monaco from 1956 to her death in 1982.
Promising young artists are honored at the Annual Princess Grace Awards in gala celebration in New York City, often attended by luminaries from Philadelphia.
She and her siblings were educated in East Falls and worshipped at St. Bridget Church. The East Falls Historical Society application for the marker, written by Patricia Cheek, was one of only 15 approved by the state out of 59 applicants. The East Falls Historical Society received the enabling grant from the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia. John B. “JB” Kelly, III., spoke at the dedication, as did Councilman Curtis Jones, John Hogan, Commodore of the Schuylkill Navy.
The East Falls historical Society continues to honor Princess Grace with the opening of the Princess Grace museum in East Falls in very early 2014.