On Oct. 22, the Philadelphia Scout Shop stopped doing business in the facility, according to the website of the BSA Cradle of Liberty Council.
The retail store is scheduled to remove its inventory from the premises by Oct. 31, under an agreement reached between Cradle and the city.
When that happens, all remnants of the Scouts’ 84-year occupancy of the building will be gone.
Cradle staffers vacated the premises in July and are now located in another Cradle headquarters in Treddyfrin Township.
The Beaux Arts building, located near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was the first Scouts headquarters built in America.
In September 2003, news emerged that the building was city-owned, yet Cradle never paid any rent to the city.
That information prompted LGBT advocates to ask city officials to stop subsidizing Cradle because it excludes people covered by the city’s antibias rules.
But Cradle refused to pay any rent, nor accept gays, atheists and/or agnostics.
As a result, the city demanded that Cradle vacate the premises on or before June 1, 2008.
But on May 23, 2008, Cradle officials filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the city was violating their First Amendment right to exclude gays from the organization.
The case was assigned to a judge who formerly served as a Scouting official in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Despite requests from the LGBT community, city officials declined to seek the judge’s recusal.
During a 2010 jury trial, the judge continually emphasized Cradle’s right to exclude gays, while minimizing the city’s right to enforce its anbias rules on city property.
In June 2010, a federal jury decided in favor of the Scouts, effectively blocking Cradle’s eviction.
The Nutter administration and Cradle tried to settle the dispute by having Cradle purchase the building for $500,000.
But Philadelphia City Council nixed the so-called “Scouts deal” after LGBT advocates pointed out the property was worth more than $1 million.
In May 2013, to end the litigation, the city agreed to pay the Scouts $825,000 for improvements allegedly made to the property. In return, Cradle agreed to vacate the premises.
The $825,000 is payable to Cradle on Nov. 5, after the retail store is gone, according to the settlement.
LGBT advocates expressed mixed feelings about the outcome.
“All the legal action that’s taken place has yielded an acceptable result,” said LGBT advocate Gregg A. Kravitz. “It’s great there’s not going to be anymore discrimination in that building. But the best outcome would have been for the Scouts to enact policies that reflect Philadelphia’s shared values.”
Kravitz voiced hope that “what happened here in Philadelphia will move the national conversation forward to bring about a policy of full inclusion within the Boy Scouts.”
He said the new national BSA policy of allowing gay youth — but not gay adults — doesn’t go far enough.
R. Duane Perry, an LGBT advocate who testified at the 2010 trial, said the building dispute helped gay youth be accepted in Scouting.
“I’m absolutely convinced the work we did here helped lay the groundwork for the change at the national level,” Perry said. “It’s one step at a time. You take every little victory you can get.”
Perry lauded the efforts of many LGBTs and allies who steadfastly opposed city subsidies for Cradle.
“I don’t think the city would have maintained its position if LGBTs and allies didn’t keep the heat on,” Perry continued. “[City officials] all wanted to sweep it under the rug and strike a deal. So it’s tremendous that others were willing to stand up against discrimination.”
Mark McDonald, a spokesperson for the Nutter administration, had no comment for this story.
Community members have suggested various conversions for the building, including an LGBT medical clinic, an LGBT history museum or a shelter for homeless LGBT youth.
Kravitz said he would support any of those options.
“It would be nice to see that building turned into a place of inclusion rather than exclusion,” he said. “The most important thing is that the future occupants adhere to the city’s antibias code.”
Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said Cradle’s eviction should be seen as a victory for the LGBT community.
“This is a victory for the gay community and, frankly, for all Philadelphians,” Roper said. “When the Boy Scouts decided to stand by their ‘right’ to discriminate rather than stand by Philadelphia’s boys and dedicated Scout leaders, they forfeited any claim to our support, either moral or financial.”
Kera Armstrong, a Cradle spokesperson, had no comment for this story.