ON THE WEST SIDE
THE UNIVERSITY CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MIKE HARDY, EDITOR
by Eleanor T. Cernansky
Sunday June 22, 1997 was an extremely hot and muggy day, but that did not stop around 50 wonderful volunteers from helping the University City Historical Society move its architectural artifacts collection from The Woodlands to their new home in The Firehouse Farmers Market at 50th and Baltimore Avenue. These caring volunteers toted, sweated and strained to move marble and oak mantles, wood spindles, metal grates, iron fencing, stained glass windows, mirrors, light fixtures, ceramic tiles, cabinets, silk flower arrangements, historic furniture, paintings, desks, file cabinets, chairs, tables, lamps, etc, from the basement and first floor of The Woodlands to the second floor of The Firehouse. As far as I can ascertain, nothing was broken, dropped or destroyed, which is pretty remarkable considering that many of these pieces were in a relatively fragile state.
We members of the UCHS would like to publicly recognize all the members and interested folks who donated their Sunday to help us move. If your name is not on this list, we apologize in advance. All it means is that you missed the sign-up sheet. In any event, our heartfelt thanks go to: Sylvia Barkan, Linda & David Blythe, Josh Brainerd, Allan Brown, Fran Byers, Ellie & Nick Cernansky, Frank Chance, Jeff Cohen, Robert Cole, Ty Colbin, Ann Dixon, Robin Dougherty, Kathy Dowdell, Arthur Downs, Ken Figgs, Bret Flanders, Anna Gavin, Pat Gillespie, Barry Grossbach, Jan & John Haigis, Mike Hardy, Chris Hibbard, Chris & Kathy Hiester, Bill Hooper, David Jansen, John Kirk, Melani Lamond, Lynn Lees, Neil Lifson, Paul Lukasiak, Milton Marks, Lewis Mellman, Ruth Molloy, Maria Oyaski, Brian & Scott Ratigan, Michele Richman, Sue Roberts, Bill Sharp, Steve Smith, Elliott Stern, Dave Trickett & Friends, Don Verlenden, Jim Walton, Joan Wells, Tim Wood, Michael Zuckerman and all of the board members who couldn't be there in person but who worked before the move.
Even though they are already listed, special thanks go to: Melani Lamond, our President; main cataloger and move coordinator Tim Wood; Mike Hardy who devoted many years to The Woodlands project and knew where everything was; Brian Ratigan who drove the moving van and with Scott Ratigan directed its many loadings and unloadings, Barry Grossbach, who kept us all fed and watered; Bill Coleman of the Firehouse Market who arranged for and prepared the food and all of the Founders of UCHS, who physically collected all these items from University City buildings before the wrecking ball hit them in the name of PROGRESS in the 1960's and 70's. HATS OFF TO ALL FOR A JOB WELL DONE!
Editor's P. S. And a special thanks to Ellie Cernansky for supervising the arrival of the collections at the second floor rooms of the Firehouse, for which plans are currently being made. Thanks as well to the Firehouse Associates and Cedar Park Neighbors for helping a community group in a time of need. Arrangements are also being made for placing the antique furnishings and art work from the public rooms of The Woodlands on long term loan to other area house museums.
SUMMER OUTING SUNDAY AUGUST 17
Join us for a Sunday outing on August 17 to Glen Foerd on the Delaware for a special guided group tour of this mansion built originally as an Italianate house, c. 1853, and later enlarged and transformed into an Edwardian country house by leather manufacturer, Robert Foerderer in 1902-3 with an art gallery, pipe organ, stained glass skylights and a rathskellar. The tour starts at 10:30 a.m. and is followed by their annual summer concert from noon to 2:00 p.m. featuring the "Pipes and Drums of the Delaware Valley." You are welcome to pack a picnic lunch or to pick up food on the grounds. A fee of $8 to UCHS pays for the tour and concert. Call us at (215) 387-3019 to reserve a place and let us know if you can offer or need a ride(s). We will get back to you with driving instructions. For those interested in more touring, some of us will be going on to nearby Historic Bristol, founded in 1681, on the Delaware River and the terminus of the Delaware Canal. The town has four neighborhoods on the National Register and offers a great selection of 19th century architecture.
by Tim Wood
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has called a public meeting for 7 p.m., Thursday, August 21 at the St. Francis DeSales Auditorium at 47th and Windsor Avenue to explain the proposed new West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb Historic District, its boundaries, rationale and benefits. This open public meeting will mark another milestone in UCHS' efforts to have areas of University City designated as historic districts, either under the local preservation ordinance of the City of Philadelphia or by the Federal government's National Park Service.
With both Powelton Village and Garden Court already designated as Historic Districts in the Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, UCHS, some time ago, began a project to secure the same designation for the Spruce Hill and Cedar Park neighborhoods. After over ten years of research and documentation of the historical significance of these areas and their buildings, we are now approaching that process' final stages. A nomination for National Register designation was submitted in January to PHMC which handles the review and acceptance to the National Register. This report, prepared for UCHS by historic preservation consultant Cynthia Rose, contains over 250 pages of description and documentation of over 3500 neighborhood buildings. Final revisions requested by PHMC were submitted in early July, and the nomination is scheduled to be reviewed by the Commission in September. National Register districts recognize important historical areas; no restrictions are placed on owners of included buildings unless federal money or investment tax credits are involved. The nomination was supported by a grant from PHMC and by funds raised by UCHS.
If approved, the new district would officially be known as the West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb Historic District, recognizing the importance of late nineteenth and early twentieth century trolley lines in shaping the neighborhood landscape. Primarily a residential area, the neighborhoods of University City are fine examples of the kind of streetcar-based suburban development that appeared around many American cities in the last few decades of the last century and first decades of this century. While the period of significance for buildings in the district runs from 1850 until 1930, the boundaries of the district were drawn using a 1910 survey map of the neighborhood. By 1910, the development of West Philadelphia had changed with the opening of the Market-Frankford El and the building boom that followed it. The buildings within these "pre-El" boundaries are, on the whole, remarkably well-preserved. Of the over 3500 buildings surveyed, fewer than 120 were considered not to contribute to the district; most of these commercial buildings built since 1930.
The boundaries of the district are, roughly, the western edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus, the Woodlands Cemetery, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Woodland and Kingsessing Avenues, the Conrail Railroad line, St. Bernard Street, Catherine Street, 51st Street, Hazel Avenue, 52nd Street, 46th Street, Pine Street, 47th Street, Walnut Street, Chestnut Street, and Ludlow Street. If you wish to find out if a particular block or building is included in the district, please come to the meeting or contact UCHS at (215) 387-3019. In addition to the National Register nomination, UCHS has been working to place the neighborhood on the local historic register, regulated by the City of Philadelphia's Historical Commission. The goal of these districts is to preserve the unique character of the neighborhood or district. A nomination for the Spruce Hill section of University City to be a local district was submitted to the Philadelphia Historical Commission approximately ten years ago. The review process was slowed by a court challenge to Pennsylvania preservation laws, but may be back on track now and the Spruce Hill nomination should be considered by the Historical Commission in the future. UCHS is also looking into the possibility of adding Cedar Park to this nomination which was made possible by a grant from the J.N. Pew, Jr, Charitable Trust and prepared by the Preservation Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
HOLIDAY HOUSE TOUR
by Melani Lamond
Think WINTER: pine boughs, snowfall, twinkling lights, dining tables set for elegant meals. Think Menorahs, Christmas trees, Kwanzaa celebrations. If you decorate your University City house for these or any other occasions in December, UCHS wants YOU to be on the 1997 Holiday House Tour on Sunday, December 14th ! Last year's tour was a great success, and we need your help to show off our historic neighborhood once again as we repeat this popular tour with its range of house styles and its diversity of holiday celebrations.
The House Tour committee is now being formed, and we'd like to hear from you at (2 15) 387-3019 if you are willing to participate on the committee, suggest a house, or offer your own house for the tour.
WEST SIDE EVENINGS
Beginning in April, Philadelphia On the West Side, a new promotions effort celebrating the West bank of the Schuylkill River as the place "Where Culture, Cuisine and Community Meet" has been offering a series of monthly "West Side Evenings" at area restaurants uniting special culinary and cultural experiences. The offering for Friday, August 15 is a Caribbean block party at the White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom Street featuring a special island buffet, exotic rum drinks and the reggae rhythms of "Sons of Ace." It begins at 8 p.m. with a $30/person charge which includes tax and gratuity. Reservations are recommended at (215) 386-9224 and you should ask for the table "On the West Side" to meet up with other West Philadelphians enjoying a great summer evening together.
Next month's "Evening" is a Saturday, September 6 celebration of the Ethiopian New Year's at Dahlak Restaurant on Baltimore Avenue with special menus of Ethiopian foods and cultural presentations.
AND, mark Saturday, September 20 from 6 to 10 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as the setting for "A Taste of the West Side" where advanced sale ticket holders available by mail for $10 from the Annenberg Center (215) 898-9079 can sample a smorgasbord of offerings from West Side restaurants and cultural venues. They showcase some of the best cuisine and culture available from the communities of Philadelphia on the West Side..
WANTED: 20TH CENTURY
WEST SIDE STORIES
by Ruth Molloy
A very interesting recent Charlie Rose program was concerned with the long-time popularity of "60 Minutes"... Mike Wallace stressed the importance of telling a story.
I hope that contributors to the new UCHS project: One Hundred Years in West Philadelphia will bear the story-telling aspect in mind as they research and write for what may turn out to be a heavy volume.
Do think of the narrative as you write your two lines, two paragraphs, two pages even. Write something you enjoy reading or hearing about. Be sure it's true, happened in West Philadelphia, and mentions dates, names, and addresses. If you copy anything from someone else's writing, it's important to mention your source and to use quotes.
If you know of a book with West Philadelphia connections, take note of name, author, and publisher (and date). Excerpts from already published works, books, magazine articles, and newspaper stories will certainly be an important part of this UCHS compendium-plus! Little anecdotes, spicy stories, pithy paragraphs, provocative pages, all are grist for the mill....Just be part of this project!
What you come up with, or any suggestions you have, should be sent to Ruth Molloy, 200 St. Mark's Square, 19104, or phone her at (215) 222-0422. She lives in the past and receives no fax or e-mail.
Photos, old and new, colored or black and white, of University City vistas, buildings, details, exterior and interior, to be added to our new web page which debuts this Fall. We are looking for images that would give Internet users some visual "feel" for the area and its best features. If you would be willing to lend them to us for a day, we can scan them and get them back to you immediately. E-mail us or call us at (215) 387-3019 and leave a message if you have candidates.
Volunteers to enter UCHS' mailing list into a Microsoft Access program. An excellent opportunity for computer literate students to log in community service hours. Call us at (215) 387-3019 to volunteer.
Can't wait for the next walk on the Schuylkill Botanic Trail on Tuesday, September 16? Never fear, peripatetic trail guide, architect, hiker and trail designer Bob Thomas has scheduled a walking tour through some of the quietest and least visited parts of Fairmount Park, following the route of the old park trolley (1896-1946), while seeing an array of historic engineering works and buildings for Tuesday, August 12, at 5:30 p.m. Optional dinner afterwards at a local restaurant. Meeting place: Belmont Plateau, at the front of Belmont Mansion. $10 for members of the Friends of Philadelphia Parks, Sierra Club, Preservation Alliance, or the Schuylkill River Greenway Association. $15 for others. Call (215) 879-8159 for reservations.
BEHIND THE SCENES
We owe many thanks to attorney and UCHS member Roy Yaffe, who met with Melani Lamond and Mike Hardy to discuss the needs of UCHS and then prepared the new lease for us for our move to the Firehouse Market. It's not the first time Roy has generously volunteered to share his time and expertise with us. Roy, who lives in Powelton Village with his wife, stained glass artisan Hope Yaffe, also provided advice several years ago to help Calvary United Methodist Church as they reclaimed their leaded glass domes. The Yaffes have also shared their house with us several times on UCHS tours. Roy's law practice, Gould, Yaffe & Golden, is in Center City.
THE MONTH'S CALENDAR
August 12 - Fairmount Park Trolley Walk
August 15 - Rum & Reggae Evening
August 17 - Glen Foerd Tour and Concert
August 21 - Historic District Meeting
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