Dr. Dorothy D. Allen’s name is now immortalized in South Philadelphia.
The 1300 block of 24th Street was ceremoniously renamed “Dorothy D. Allen Way” on March 5 as friends and family gathered on the Point Breeze Street to celebrate her life of helping the community.
Speeches honoring the late community leader were held at the corner of 24th and Wharton Streets, which was the location of the former Barrett Educational Center that Allen founded in 1975. Currently, construction of the Dorothy D. Allen Community Center/Foundation building is underway at that location. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024.
“Mrs. Allen was a legend in her Point Breeze community,” said City Council Member Kenyatta Johnson. “Her unforgettable presence has been sorely missed and will continue to be so. Mrs. Allen was influential in my life. I attended BEC summer camps as a child and BEC got me my first jobs as a camp counselor and with the former Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network in the 1980’s. It is important to salute people for the great work they have done to improve the quality-of-life in Philadelphia and the ceremonial renaming of 24th Street, between Wharton and Reed Streets ‘Dorothy D. Allen Way’ is a perfect tribute to Mrs. Allen and her legacy.”
A Point Breeze native, Allen helped fight against hunger in the local community by obtaining a grant from the city in the 1970s to administer a food program in South Philadelphia. It served the community by feeding children, and offering programs such as theater, performing arts, sports, tutoring and arts and crafts. Allen also ensured that programs for senior citizens were available, including grant writing classes and recreational offerings.
Allen also offered a highly affordable summer camp for local youth, while hiring hundreds of teenagers and young adults, providing first jobs to many of them.
Allen served as block captain of Bucknell Street for nearly 50 years and was a stalwart presence at Mt. Hebron Baptist Church in South Philadelphia, serving as a deaconess. An expert seamstress, Allen, she started a garment business with her future husband, Robert Allen, in 1948, training and employing members of the community. Later, she worked at the Quartermaster Depot in South Philadelphia for more than two decades, making uniforms for military service members. Allen died in 2019 at the age of 96.