by Shirley Hanson
The Chestnut Hill Historical Society honored three exceptional projects happening within the Chestnut Hill National Register Historic District at its annual meeting on Jan. 10. The event took place in the Chapel at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
Valley Green Bank received an award for the rehabilitation of the Cresheim Valley Pergola and Arch. The bank’s board and staff decided to give a gift to the community that would recognize the community’s support for the bank over the last 10 years. To honor these connections, they chose to rehabilitate the landmark pergola and arch. Accepting the award was Jay Goldstein, founding president and CEO of Valley Green Bank, and Carl Shaifer and Phil Tankel, for the Chestnut Hill Rotary.
The pergola and arch form a welcoming gateway that connects the neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy at a lively intersection. This project unites public, private, and volunteer efforts: Valley Green Bank, the Rotary Club of Chestnut Hill, the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Fairmount Park. The Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill Business Improvement Districts will take on the tasks of continued cleaning and maintenance.
The much-appreciated work was extensive: removing invasive trees and vegetation, securing masonry, re-pointing key areas, cleaning the structures, and rebuilding parts of the pergolas. The historical society encourages a Phase Two. Here’s why: The resources mobilized were enough to complete the work except for correcting earlier incorrect re-pointing. The project did include re-pointing the critical areas of the piers and beams with softer, correct mortar, but funding wasn’t sufficient to re-point the entire structure.
The historical society applauds the work of Valley Green Bank and its dedication to unwrap and rehabilitate this handsome resource for our enjoyment. The award was given with gratitude for the many connections the bank made – both human and structural. The Preservation Awards Committee includes Emily Cooperman, Patricia Cove, Barbara Anne Davey, Lexa Edsall, Eileen Javers, Heather Snyder Killinger, Mindy O’Connor, and Lori Salganicoff.
The historical society hopes these awards will inspire others to undertake sensitive work on the property in their care and apply for an award next year. A subsequent article will present the two other awards – for stewardship of the newsstand on Germantown Avenue and renovation of Louis Kahn’s Margaret Esherick House.
Shirley Hanson is a founding director of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.