Celebrating 125 years of Fleisher Art Memorial!

125 Stories: The Lives of Fleisher

In honor of Fleisher’s 125th anniversary, we have adapted the format of a parlor game popularized in the late 1800s—during the same period that Samuel Fleisher founded the Graphic Sketch Club, which would later become Fleisher Art Memorial—to create The Fleisher Questionnaire. Excerpts from the responses, which touch on everything from favorite Fleisher moments to ideas of a perfect Philly day, will be featured throughout 2023 as we celebrate the many dimensions of FAM as well as our community members.

The Fleisher Years

Join us for a deep dive into FAM's archives and history, unfolding over the course of our anniversary year. Explore recent chapters to learn more about Fleisher's past, scroll down to subscribe to our mailing list, and stay tuned for expanding content as we celebrate significant milestones leading to the present.

Chapter 1

Samuel S. Fleisher and the Origins of the Graphic Sketch Club (1871-1898)

Chapter 2

The Expansion of the Graphic Sketch Club (1898-1929)

Chapter 3

A Basilica on Catharine Street Becomes an Art Sanctuary (1886-1943)

Chapter 4

Art Sanctuary as Object Lesson (1886-1934)

Chapter 5

The Graphic Sketch Club becomes Fleisher Art Memorial (1944- )

Chapter 6

Twenty Years of the Fleisher Challenge (1978-1998)

Chapter 7

Dina Wind and the Wind Challenge (2005– )

Chapter 8

Form and Function: The Louis Kahn Lecture Room (1982–2022)

Chapter 9

The Doors on Catharine Street (1916– )


Samuel Stuart Fleisher is born to German Jewish immigrant parents, the third child of Simon B. Fleisher (who with his brother, Moyer Fleisher, built the Fleisher Yarn Company)


Dr. Henry Robert Percival assumes leadership as rector of the Church of the Evangelists on Catharine Street


The 1830s church is torn down and a new church, design by Baker and Dallet of Furness, Evans & Co. is built


Samuel Fleisher graduates from Wharton and joins the family business


Samuel Fleisher establishes the Graphic Sketch Club at the Jewish Union Building at 422 Bainbridge Street


Dr. Percival passes away; Dr. Charles Wellington Robinson becomes new rector at the Church of the Evangelists


Graphic Sketch Club moves to 740 Catharine Street to meet growing demand for classes; Dr. Wellington founds St. Martin's College for Indigent Boys at 713-15 Catharine Street


Church of the Evangelists and St. Martin's College close


Fleisher acquires new space across the street in former St. Martin's College for Indigent Boys for Graphic Sketch Club


Fleisher acquires adjacent Church of the Evangelist sanctuary


Samuel Fleisher wins The Philadelphia Award


Fleisher passes away, leaving his estate in trust to the PMA and the Graphic Sketch Club becomes Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial


Summer program established


Fleisher Art Memorial purchases 721 Catharine Street


The Challenge Exhibition Series, now known as the Wind Challenge, begins


Fleisher Art Memorial purchases 709 Catharine Street


Fleisher Art Memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; Louis Kahn Lecture Room, designed by Siah Armajani, is installed


Fleisher becomes an independent non-profit


Founder's Award established in honor of Samuel Fleisher's vision


Fleisher's Community Partnerships in the Arts (CPA) program is established


Fleisher Art Memorial purchases 705 Christian Street (now known as the Works on Paper Building)


The first Print Love-In, in collaboration with Prints for Progress, occurs


"Dear Fleisher, 4 x 6 inches of art" exhibition program begins


Marker installed by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission


Teen Lounge program established


Fleisher launches ColorWheels; Fleisher partners with La Calaca Flaca to host annual Día de los Muertos celebration


Fleisher collaborates with Woman Organized Against Rape (WOAR) and VietLEAD on Bring Your Own Project


Fleisher launches JumpstART workshops


Fleisher re-establishes an archives program


Fleisher partners with Casa de Venezuela and Modero & Company to present 360 Culture Lab


Monica Zimmerman announced as new Executive Director


FAM celebrates 125 years!