depending on the meaning, 'przed' can be followed by instrumental case if it refers to a location of an object in front of another object or an event happening before some other event.
If 'przed' is used to describe a motion towards a front of some place, then you use accusative, e.g. 'samochód podjechał przed ratusz' - 'a car arrived in front of the city hall'.
Interesting. Looking up on OED it seems it was standard in the 19th century but has progressed to now being dialetical.
Should it be considered wrong however if a large number of english speakers have correctly interpreted the text, particularly given it occurs before any discussion of past tenses?