Name of Organization: Gay Community Center of Philadelphia (Gay Coffeehouse)
Known familiarly as the "Gay Coffeehouse", the original Gay Community Center was founded in 1975, and was the predecessor of Penguin Place and the William Way Community Center in a direct line of succession.
The Center held its grand opening event on Sunday afternoon, August 24, 1975, which was broadcast live on a local alternative radio station operating on the Penn Campus.
A group of 25 members of the community formed a Steering Committee that developed the Center, and raised funds to rent and renovate a two-story brick building at 324 Kater Street that had been a stable for horses of the mounted patrols of the Philadelphia Police,
A ramp to the second floor was replaced with stairs leading to offices for meeting rooms and a library of donated books.
A new concrete floor was poured on the first floor that was devoted primarily to a space for a Coffeehouse, community gatherings, and meetings of several gay and Lesbian organizations in Philadelphia at that time.
The original group who organized the Center included Hank Baron, Joseph DeMarco, Jeff Dunn, Peter Dunning, Harry Eberlin, Jeffrey Escoffier, Rich Grzesiak, Bob Hass, Ed Hermance, Harry Kelly, Dr. Walter Lear, Steve Mirman, Ian Mishkin, Arleen Olshan, William Phillips, Lee Robbins, Bob Stewart, Rusel Silkey.
The Center was legally incorporated as a non-profit organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Center was also granted 501(c)3 tax exempt status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit educational organization. The application was initially rejected by the IRS, then approved after appeal, one of the first community centers in that era to be approved. Other centers in the U.S. had had their applications denied since, at that time, the IRS was concerned about organizations "advocating homosexuality" and the application stressed planned educational activities such as public lectures and a library of educational materials presenting "different points of view."
Location: 324 Kater Street, Philadelphia
Period in existence: 1975 to 19?? at that location, continuing as Penguin Place and the present William Way Community Center.
Philadelphians who participate/d in this organization: