Germantown has a notable presence of Black-owned businesses and enterprises. There’s a deep history of Black business owners, including John Trower, which should be no surprise. Trower received a historical marker in front of the Crab House on Chelten Avenue on Sunday afternoon for his 172nd birthday. This historical marker comes from the collaborative efforts of Historic Germantown, Germantown United CDC, Keeping Society of Philadelphia, and the Black Writers Museum.
Trower already owned other properties in the neighborhood when he bought the building at 5706 Germantown Avenue. He made the space into a catering company, which was very popular during the time. Executive Director of Historic Germantown, Tumoi Forrest, says that Booker T. Washington profiled Trower as one of the leading African-Americans in the country. Trower is stated as one of the wealthiest African-American’s of his time.
But, while he was an entrepreneur, he was also a philanthropist. Trower helped finance the Zion Baptist Church in Germantown and more. He created loan programs for Black folks when Black people didn’t have substantial access to capital. Forrest says, “that’s really what the story is; he was a giver.” Trower also created a trade school for young African-American men.
Karen Smith and friends played their drums before the event began. Representatives from the collaborating organizations spoke a little about the significance and journey of bringing the marker to the site. Senator Art Haywood presented Trower’s descendants with a citation of honor for his work and legacy. Supreme Dow closed the speaking portion of the event by inviting attendees to imagine how much much change we can continue to enact by studying the experiences of history-makers like Trower.
After the unveiling, there was a reception outside the Black Writers Museum with food from local eateries like the Crab House, Bistro on the Mall, and Lily of the Valley Cupcakes and live jazz music.