News: Pennsylvania Convention Center Purchases House of Prayer Portraits

House of Prayer, Portraits: Philadelphia, 1980.



Posted on September 19, 2016 by Tony Ward


The Pennsylvania Convention Center recently purchased a series of four prints from the House of Prayer Portraits for $20,000.00.  The portrait series was produced in 1980. The prints are on permanent display on the ground floor of the new wing of the newly expanded convention center in Philadelphia.


HOUSE OF PRAYER:  1976 to 1980

The church is a central theme at the spiritual core of the African American experience.  I was introduced as a photographer to the United House of Prayer for All People in 1976 by my late grandmother, Eva Sanders Ward. She was an usher of the church located at 16th and Fitzwater Streets in Philadelphia.  Grandmother was a devout follower and believer in The Apostolic Faith espoused by the words and acts of faith healing by his holiness, the reverend “Sweet Daddy” Grace. He had founded the church in West Wareham, Massachusetts in 1919.

During my childhood grandmother often invited me to her church services to witness the live music, singing and shouting spirit of the convocations African American congregation.  Until the first time I visited the church I observed too few positive images of the African American experience in America.  The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s made public countless images of hatred, prejudice, bigotry and racism on television and in print.  Having the privilege to visit the church, with camera in hand, from 1976 to 1980 was a unique opportunity. I was privileged to encounter and document a more positive outlook on African American life during this particular era in American History.


To see more pictures from the House of Prayer portfolio, go here

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