ON THE WEST SIDE
THE UNIVERSITY CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
SEPTEMBER 2000


MIKE HARDY, EDITOR


PRIMER* Workshops

The second series of PRIMER* workshops (*Preservation, Repair, Improvement, Maintenance and Educational Resources) has been developed for Fall, 2000 by D-L Wormley, UCHS Board Member and the Director of Neighborhood Rehabilitation Initiatives of the University City District. The informal workshops, co-sponsored by the District and UCHS, will focus on the topics identified by current homeowners in University City as ones they want to learn more about. These include the maintenance and repair of porches; pointing, mortar and masonry (including basements and foundations); heating and cooling the older home and the repair and replacement of fireplaces. The enclosed registration flyer gives the full details, dates and places. UCHS members can attend at a half-price discount. Registration at the door is also possible.

Each session will include presenters and practitioners in the field and will permit maximum opportunities for questions and one-on-one discussions about the issues at large and how they apply in your particular case. Each has been developed for homeowners interested in learning how to:

D-L is also gathering materials and resources at the UCD on repairing, preserving and maintaining homes. Included are the complete series of "Preservation Briefs" from the U.S. Department of the Interior; copies of "The Slate Roof Bible"; and an on-going database of local contractors and craftspeople recommended by area users.

The UCD website contains detailed notes from the Spring series of PRIMER* workshops and links to a range of organizations concerned with preservation and maintenance. For further information, please contact D-L Wormley at (215) 243-0555, ext 229 or at wormley@universitycitydistrict.org.

Through The Grapevine

Information about similar topics frequently is the subject on Grapevine, a new e-mail listserve open to all members of UCHS. Grapevine is designed as a forum for the announcement of UCHS events and activities, as well as postings of other events that may be of interest to UCHS members. In addition, it can be a place for the discussion of the history of West Philadelphia, its people, institutions, architecture, and landscape.

In existence for only a few months, Grapevine has already become a place where UCHS members can discuss issues and exchange information concerning the maintenance, restoration, and preservation of the architecture of University City. Members of the Grapevine list are encouraged to post their questions, answers, information, experiences, and observations working on preservation problems and challenges.

To subscribe to Grapevine, simply send an e-mail to grapevine-subscribe@uchs.net. Leave the Subject line in your email empty and put your name in the body of the message. You will receive a confirmation request; when you reply to this request, you will be subscribed to Grapevine.

If you have any questions about Grapevine, e-mail UCHS at info@uchs.net. We hope that you will subscribe to Grapevine, and that you will find it to be a useful and interesting forum for historical issues.

Stop Thief!

Missing finial at 4611-13 SpruceOne of the most vexing problems to face UCHS and the community in recent years has been the theft of architectural ornaments from buildings - doorknobs, iron window grates, iron fences and gates, porch elements, and so on. The most egregious incident in recent years occurred in May, when new homeowners in Cedar Park discovered the heartbreaking theft of 12 original stained and leaded glass windows from the house they were renovating. This theft attracted the attention of many, including Inquirer columnist, Tom Ferrick and UCD Executive Director, Paul Steinke. UCHS and the UCD combined forces to seek a solution to this frustrating problem and discovered the "Tip Line, (215) 546-TIPS." Operated by the Citizens Crime Commission, an independent citizen's "watchdog" group, the Tip Line works in conjunction with Channel 6 Action News to collect anonymous tips on area crimes. If a tip leads to the arrest and conviction of a criminal, the person who provided the tip gets a cash reward. The amounts of the rewards vary, depending on the severity of the crime. Although this tip line gets wide use, this is the first time it has been used to trace a category of crimes against a community, rather than more personal assaults. President John Appledorn was most helpful and enthusiastic about stretching the boundaries of the Tip Line in this fashion.

Thankful to be doing something positive to combat this problem, the UCD and the UCHS have each contributed $2,500.00 to the Tip Line reward account. (Reward amounts are determined and distributed by the Citizen's Crime Commission. Any reward money not used within two years is returned.) Additional contributions from the Spruce Hill Community Association, Cedar Park Neighbors, Powelton Village Civic Association, Central City Toyota, and neighborhood residents have brought the total to over $7,000.00, and the Inquirer has pledged $1,000. In the first weeks after the announcement of the Tip Line, numerous calls were recorded. Although none of these calls has yielded any results so far, Captain Linda MacLaughlin of the 18th District happily reports that no new thefts have been reported since the inception of the Tip Line reward program, indicating that the Tip Line is serving as a significant deterrent.

We need to continue to spread the word about the Tip Line, so its deterrent effect continues. We also all need to protect our architectural heritage in any way we can. Take photographs of the most significant elements of your house and lock those photos in a safe place. Many people have taken videos of their possessions for insurance purposes; take some shots of the outside of your house as well, with the date marker on the camera turned on, to record those fences and porch finials and doorknobs. Buy an engraver and etch an unobtrusive identifier (not your name, but perhaps a significant code word or number) on your iron gate. Fasten loose elements securely, to prevent easy lifting. The UCHS is now working on a program to help homeowners label and identify their architectural elements; look for more on this in future issues of On The West Side.

4617 Cedar Avenue Update

The continuing community struggle over the rezoning of this property from single-family to commercial status continues, lead by UCHS Board Member, Theresa Sims, her neighbors in the Cedar Point Park Neighborhood Association, with support, both moral and financial, from community members and organizations, including UCHS.

The opposition began in September 1997 when the immediate neighbors tried to meet with the new property owner/dentist to discuss their concern over the work proceeding on removing and enclosing the front porch of this Victorian twin and reorienting its entrance facade to face Baltimore Avenue, incorporating a detached single story former laundromat to create a dental clinic.

He failed to respond and since them has been locked in a battle with the community to rezone the property to permit a full-scale dental office with eight employees open from morning to night, six days a week. In December of 1999, the community won an appeal in Common Pleas from the Zoning Board's initial ruling for re-zoning, but in June 2000, the judge, with no explanation and no new evidence, reversed himself.

As Theresa explains, in her latest newsletter,

"You can imagine our disappointment at his decision. Since then we have dusted ourselves off and started anew. On the positive side, this judge has been overruled before by the state Superior Court on a zoning case from our neighborhood in which he and the Zoning Board had originally given the community an adverse ruling. We feel we have a strong chance for success due to the strength of our case, the continuing support of the community, a very competent attorney and the judge's flipflop on his own decision.

We, as you can imagine, have mounting legal fees that must be paid and could use your financial help in this endeavor...We believe that our community cannot continue to lose single family housing and that there should be a distinctive division between our residential and commercial districts. Our block is one of those dividing lines. We thank you so very much for your support."

Checks made to UCHS for providing assistance should be marked "Cedar Point Park" in the memo section. Mail them to UCHS, P.O. Box 31927, Philadelphia, PA 19104

A Special Fall House Tour

...will be presented by the Philadelphia Chapter of The Victorian Society in America in University City on Sunday, October 1st, between 1:30 and 5 p.m., beginning at The Gables, 4520 Chester Avenue. The tour will feature 4 or 5 privately-owned grand Victorians, open for touring exclusively for the Victorian Society and its guests. Tickets are $15 for Victorian Society members, $20 for guests.

Reservations are required with payment due by Sept 28, 2000 to Philadelphia V.S.A., c/o Alex Humes, 202 E. Gowen Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19119. There will be no tour day registrations. Call 215-248-1839 or Warren Cedarholm, UCHS Board Member/Treasurer at The Gables (215) 662-1918.

Marking Time

So far, we have filled orders for over 150 of the date markers ($15 for members/delivered) for properties in University City's National Register Historic Districts of Powelton, Garden Court and the West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb. And, to make it easy and certain that they get affixed to the properties they mark and increase public awareness of the special character of the area's architectural development, UCHS now owns the special cordless hammer drill and other tools to install them quickly. That service is available for an optional $10 installation fee.

If you are interested in learning more about these markers or have neighbors and friends, UCHS members or not, who might be, please let us know and we will get you copies of the special brochure for each district. Just include the address of the property you are considering marking. Call us at (215) 387-3019 or email us at info@uchs.net and we will get them in the mail to you. An order form is also available here on our web site.

And, if you, or a student looking for a community service project, are interested in helping us check the accuracy of some of our information re the construction dates of some of these properties, get in touch and we will describe what's involved. It can be fun!

Before The Fall Leaves

Start noting and submitting the addresses of those who should be cited at next year's UCHS Valentine's Day Awards Ceremony and Tea for their Gifts to the Streets of new building fašade and landscape improvements in University City. There's a powerful movement afoot to clean up and green up the area and highlight its special historical character and everyone at work needs to be thanked for their part in the effort. More on this in the next "On the West Side."

UCHS Board News

If your dues to UCHS are current, you should find a ballot card enclosed in the paper version of this newsletter that was recently mailed. Please vote for nominees to fill one third of the Board of Governors of the society who will serve until 2003. In addition to Sylvia Barkan, Kathy Dowdell, and Mike Hardy, who are willing to serve for another term as Board Member, you will find the following new names and nominees: Mark Brack, who lives at 220 Locust Street, but who teaches architecture at Drexel and is particularly interested in preservation efforts in University City; Pat Gillespie, 508 S. 45th Street, an interpretive specialist with the National Park Service, active in area greening efforts and particularly interested in the history of Satterlee Hospital in Clark Park; Joanne Kellerman, 208 St. Marks Square, a long time former board member returning to bring her attention to detail and volunteering to the board; Kristen Rozansky, 326 S. 43rd Street, who has already volunteered to help organize house tours and photo document architectural details in the neighborhood and Hazami Sayed, 532 S. 46th Street, an architect with Kieran Timberlake Associates interested in the development of the historic commercial districts in University City. Please return your ballot by October 1, 2000.

If your ballot is missing, you will be receiving a dues renewal notice soon, including those given complementary memberships for their "Gift to the Streets" recognition. Dues renewal will insure your receiving future issues of "On the West Side" and other UCHS benefits. Information about membership is also available on our web site--click here.


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