Mayor Michael A. Nutter, city and nonprofit officials gathered for the ribbon-cutting and lighting ceremony for renovations to Vernon Park, 5710 – 18 Germantown Ave. in Germantown, on Oct. 27. The $1.2 million renovation project included improvements to the landscape and renovated pathways, new playground equipment, new safety surfaces, new pathway lighting throughout the entire park, lighting of statues and monuments, statue restoration, and new adult fitness equipment.
“Germantown is a neighborhood of historic importance to our city and our nation,” said Mayor Nutter. “But more importantly, it is a modern neighborhood home to many Philadelphians who deserve the best amenities available. Vernon Park, the Emerald of Germantown, was certainly in need of some new amenities, and by working with a combination of external and community partners the City was able to restore this great public space.”
Nutter was joined by Michael DiBerardinis, deputy mayor for environmental and community resources/commissioner for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, and representatives from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Friends of Vernon Park.
Vernon Park is historical landmark in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. In the center of the park is the still-standing Vernon Wister House built in 1803 that was once the home of historian James Matthews and his son, Civil War hero John Wister. A statue of John Wister stands at the entrance of the Vernon house in remembrance of his contributions to the nation.
The Vernon house also served as a hospital for injured soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Vernon Park contains several other monuments to commemorate the Battle of Germantown and the first settlers of Germantown, including founder Francis Daniel Pastorius.
“This is the start of a new beginning for the Germantown Community,” Bass said. “I have been adamant in saying that we must reclaim our public spaces. This renovation is just the kickoff for more to come. Don’t be surprised if you see me out here using the new adult fitness equipment.”
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Bass, and Friends of VernonPark worked together to help preserve the historic park. The improvements to Vernon Park will provide safe, clean, and ready-to-use facilities for the entire Germantown community.
Margaret McCarvill, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) interim executive director, said PHS was pleased to partner with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Bass on the renovation of the park.
“The project presented an opportunity to add new features to promote community health and safety while preserving the historic heritage of one of the city’s oldest green spaces,” she said.
Additional project partners included the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Water Department, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Friends of Vernon Park, Vernon House, and Center in the Park.