Press Release

The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia Will Stay Open, With Assist From Ballard Spahr

January 25, 2024

The Colored Girls Museum—which honors the stories, experience, and history of Black women and girls—will remain open now that the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) has granted a variance for the museum to operate at its longtime location in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The Colored Girls Museum’s fate had been hanging in limbo for months. The city, following a complaint last spring, found the museum—which opened in 2015—in violation of zoning code requirements that cultural institutions in residential neighborhoods must be in detached buildings. The museum is housed in a twin at 4613 Newhall St. in Germantown.

A team of real estate lawyers from Ballard Spahr provided pro bono representation to the museum and its founder and Executive Director, Vashti DuBois, for the city zoning board filings, correspondence, and proceedings. During a virtual hearing in the fall, the ZBA heard broad support for the variance and keeping the museum open—including from neighbors who share a wall with the museum and from other nearby residents.

Earlier this week, the ZBA informed the museum that the variance was granted.

The Ballard Spahr team that represented The Colored Girls Museum included Devon Beverly, Eileen B. Quigley, and Damaris Y. Walker, all members of the firm’s nationally recognized Real Estate Department and Zoning and Land Use practice.  

“The impact of this achievement cannot be overstated, and we are incredibly grateful for the unwavering leadership, confidence, and interest that made it possible,” Ms. DuBois said. “We are grateful to have you as allies in our mission.”

The Colored Girls Museum collects, preserves, honors, and educates about artifacts pertaining to the experience and “herstory” of Black women and girls. The museum serves as a research facility, exhibition space, gathering place, and think tank. It has been written about by Smithsonian Magazine, Essence, the Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel Noire, Metro U.K., and other publications and outlets.

Through the firm’s acclaimed pro bono program, Ballard Spahr attorneys contribute more than 50,000 hours each year to pro bono service, ensuring that clients have a voice and a legal advocate regardless of their ability to pay. The firm partners with agencies throughout the country to provide free legal services to meet the most pressing needs of their communities.

For media inquiries, please contact Bill Shralow at 215.864.8195.

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