ON THE WEST SIDE
THE UNIVERSITY CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MIKE HARDY, EDITOR
TOUR & BRUNCH
On Sunday, December 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. the second UCHS Holiday House Tour will feature some elegant University City homes dating from the 1880's to the 1920's decked out in their holiday decorations and displaying some recent renovations. Holiday decor means everything from sentimental Victoriana to contemporary artwork and renovations include a just-completed kitchen and a unique redecorated carriage house. It's an eclectic mix with something right for everyone and is just $10 in advance by mail using the enclosed flyer. On the day of the tour, if space permits, tickets will be available at The Gables, 4520 Chester Avenue after 12:30 p.m.
The Gables is also the site for a new addition to the holiday tour, a pre-tour brunch from 11:30 to 1:30 catered by Campus Epicurean, 4248 Spruce Street, featuring their special brunch dishes, breads, juices, fruit and more surprises for $8.95/person. You can sign up for the brunch using the enclosed flyer. Please indicate which "seating" you prefer, 11:30 to 12:30 or 12:30 to 1:30. Reservations may also be made by phoning UCHS at (215) 387-3019 before Monday, December 8, 1997.
This combination of University City culture and cuisine is sponsored by the University City District and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and is one of a series of monthly West Side Evenings presented by Philadelphia On the West Side.
HOLIDAY GREENS SALE
And the best place to go for holiday decorations (greens, roping, topiaries, poinsettias, wreaths, centerpieces, etc.) is Bartram's Garden, 54th and Lindbergh Blvd, on Saturday and Sunday, December 6 & 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year whimsical snowmen made of 100 % natural materials are perched on wreaths, peeking from centerpieces or dangling from trees! With shopping, refreshments, a tour of the house and garden, a great experience for everyone is assured.
UNIVERSITY CITY GREENING
TAKES THE GOLD
Two University City greening/public space projects, one for which UCHS serves as historical consultant, took first prizes in a new awards category, "Avantgardens," in this year's Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest.
"Baltimore Avenue in Bloom; An Urban Botanical Trail," now in its second year of development, was praised by the judges as "a vision of planting, tending and interpreting a coordinated thematic demonstration of trees, shrubs and flowers along Baltimore Avenue in University City and in its associated green spaces. They have already begun to link history to their efforts by planting trees listed in John Bartram's catalogue of 1783. The plantings at the SEPTA stops are just the beginning to capture the botanical history of Philadelphia. Go for it!" Recently, riders on the Baltimore Avenue Route 34 trolley were offered a "Tree Top Trolley Tour" of some of the project's highlights through some 3000 flyers made available by SEPTA.
"Baltimore Avenue in Bloom" is funded in part by the Philadelphia Urban Resources Partnership. With its theme of "Exchanges-Plants, People, Places," the project also is a coordinated and collective local effort, with contributions from the Spruce Hill Community Association and Spruce Hill Garden Club, the Friends of Clark Park, Cross Baltimore Tree Tenders, SEPTA, Cedar Point Neighbors, the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, the City's Streets and Water Departments, Warrington Community Gardens and Green Thumb Gardeners, the Philadelphia Job Corps, the VA Medical Center and numerous individuals. Originally The Woodlands was to the receive and be the staging area for donated perennials from area nurseries until the Spruce Hill Garden Club, along with UCHS, was evicted from the place last year.
Sharing top honors with the Baltimore Avenue project was the newly opened Squirrel Hill Falls Park, at 48th and Chester Avenue, which, with its designer/developer, Danielle Rousseau-Hunter, was lauded by the judges as, "an inviting wonderland that combines graphic illusion with picturesque reality. With support from over 155 local and national contributors this park became a reality and a place to host cultural and community events. The park's eye-catching mural of waterfalls cascades into a real waterfall that is solar powered. Spectacular and unique in every way." The park just completed its first season of cultural events organized by the Squirrel Hill neighbors and funded by Friends Rehabilitation Program, which owns the park. More events are promised for next season.
Other West Philadelphia winners in the City Gardens Contest were Joe Revlock's Summer/Winter Community Gardens in Powelton, Adam Levine's Spruce Hill Garden at 44th and Locust, Danielle Rousseau-Hunter's large flower garden at 48th and Chester and Carrie Bush's special green oasis at 55th and Baltimore. The "Eugene E. Smith Memorial Award," established in memory of a long-time UCHS member/gardener, was also granted again to a first-year community garden.
The University City Community Council, of which UCHS is a member, is planning to republish "Close at Hand, A Directory of Goods and Services in University City." Set for publication in early 1998, this "local Yellow Pages" will contain free one-line listings of all the businesses, services and community resources located within the boundaries of University City if those working on the project are made aware of the necessary information.
Here is how you, the members of UCHS, can help! While the area has many fine craftspeople and building repair services, there may be other specialists (carpenters, painters, contractors, landscapers, plasterers, electricians, etc.) without a University City address with whom you may have worked who should also be listed. If you are or know of a business or craftsperson who would provide excellent help maintaining the architectural heritage of University City for its owner/residents, please send their names, addresses, telephone/FAX numbers and specialties to "UCCC, PO Box 31973, Philadelphia, PA 19104."
You won't be listed as a recommendation, but those using the book will know that someone in University City included the listing, which they can check out for themselves. And you will have made a real contribution to practical historic preservation in the neighborhood.
For the French, any occasion is a good enough reason to party and the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau is indeed an excellent one. Each year, on the third Thursday of November, people all over France pour into cafes and bistros to taste the "vin de l'annee." Will it be deliciously exuberant and fruity? Or will it taste like fizzy grape juice? Every year, the Beaujolais Nouveau is the subject of tireless debate. According to the experts, the 1997 vintage is going to be good, very good even, because of this past summer's unusually hot days and an almost rain-free autumn.
But, if you can't make it to Paris, come join the University City celebration at La Terrasse, 3432 Sansom Street on Thursday, November 20 from 6 p.m. on. It will be an evening of good old Gallic fun, live accordion, wine songs, regional specialties and of course, ample sampling of the new wine. The 3-course dinner will be a very democratic $27.50. For reservations and more information, please call La Terrasse at (215) 386-5000. But remember, the community is large, the thirst is great and there is only so much room at La Terrasse, so book early.
This is one of a series of monthly "West Side Evenings" offered by Philadelphia On the West Side, a promotions effort celebrating University City as the place "Where Culture, Cuisine and Community Meet." This month's event is sponsored by Alan H. Klein Real Estate and by the University City District, the newly formed special services program voluntarily funded by University City institutions.
On Saturday, October 25, a delegation of UCHS members from University City were guests at a reception given by the Awbury Arboretum Association in the Francis Cope House (c.1860) in Germantown to welcome the long-term loan of UCHS furnishings from The Woodlands.
The classical revival pieces, large landscape oils and garden furnishings have found a new home in a beautiful setting with an ever-expanding audience, with an open, friendly, committed staff and an engaged and involved board of directors. It seems an ideal match for both the pieces and their hosts and we thank Awbury for so graciously assuming stewardship for these pieces. We encourage all of our members to visit Awbury and the Cope House to experience a truly delightful environment and group of people. Call them at (215) 849-2855 for information. Other loans of the collection will be announced in the future.
AND WHAT OF THE WOODLANDS ?
It has been over a year since the Woodlands Cemetery Company severed their connections with the community. The shattered Paul Cret entrance gates still lie rusting in the grass and the mansion remains hermetically sealed to the public, except for cemetery personnel. Sad indeed!
The Philadelphia City Paper thought so as well, recently naming The Woodlands: "Favorite local landmark now closed to the public." They commented, "Citing structural problems, the Woodlands Cemetery Company closed this beautiful colonial mansion last spring and booted out the resident University City Historical Society. After years of restoration work, UCHS had only recently opened part of the building to the public. The Society's collection of furnishings can now be seen decorating other historic houses." While The Woodlands as mansion and cemetery may be dead, its story continues.
LEND AN EYE
To UCHS to help identify University City property owners who have or are doing historically responsible things to the exteriors of their historic properties. The new University City National Register district contains no regulatory powers for owners who may elect to change their properties, whether for good or ill. It also seems that, given the record of the current Philadelphia Historical Commission, a local district with such powers may not be enacted in our lifetimes.
Therefore, it is more important than ever that we use every device to encourage owners to appreciate and care for the historical architecture of University City, one of the area's most distinctive features. Any and all efforts on the part of those responsible for caring for that asset need our collective thanks and appreciation. So if you observe instances of appropriate repair or replacement of architectural details, new landscaping, a particularly attractive paint job or some other "gift to the street," please call us at (215) 387-3019 and leave word about the property and name of the owner, if you know it. We will make sure they get the recognition they deserve, in the form of a formal "thank you" from UCHS and the community.
You can also use the same method to recommend those properties you think should be considered for this year's "Outstanding Preservation Awards," which will be announced by year's end.
Through the efforts of those like UCHS member, Fran Byers, who, on Saturday, November 8, organized and staged a highly effective and moving Veterans' Day commemoration (the fourth annual) near the boulder from Gettysburg's Devil's Den in Clark Park using the combined resources of the Philadelphia Police Department, St. Francis de Sales, the students of the HMS School and the Friends of Clark Park to recall the contributions of West Philadelphia to the American Civil War.
Focused on the story of Satterlee Hospital (1862-1865), the largest army hospital in existence at the time, the ceremony included patriotic songs and readings, student presentations, a police honor guard, the playing of Taps and the detailed portrayal of a field amputation by Civil War re-enactor, Herb Kaufman. All of this was witnessed by two TV stations and an enthusiastic crowd. Congratulations, Fran, on another job well done!
1998 DUES RENEWAL
And we hope you will consider becoming a "Friend of UCHS" when you do send in your dues for 1998. We have a lot of great projects planned for the coming year and hope to have you on board again as a supporter in this new category.
go to current issue of On The West Side
go to list of back issues of On The West Side
back to University City Historical Society Homepage