In recognition of the extraordinary architectural legacy of Chestnut Hill, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society created the “Architectural Hall of Fame” to honor the community’s most treasured places. The society’s Preservation Committee developed the following list of 10 nominees – several nominated by the public! These are buildings, structures and landscapes that:
• Represent groundbreaking approaches to planning and design, or
• Are significant for their design, materials, craftsmanship, or as an exceptional example of their style, or
• Are of historic significance because of an association with an event, a person, or by virtue of age.
Four of these places will be selected BY PUBLIC VOTE to be added to the Chestnut Hill Architectural Hall of Fame this year. Last year, more than 1,200 votes added the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge, Gravers Lane Station, Wissahickon Inn (at SCHA), the Vanna Venturi House and the Margaret Esherick House to the Hall of Fame.
Now it’s time to vote for your favorites from among this year’s nominees. To see photographs of the special places and cast your vote online, visit our website at www.chhist.org. Ballots will also be available at our headquarters at 8708 Germantown Ave and select locations throughout Chestnut Hill. Choose the three special places that you think best meet the criteria, but, please, just one ballot per person. Voting closes on Oct. 25.
Winners will be announced at a cocktail gala in a beautiful historic home on Saturday, Nov. 5. The chairs for this event are Karen and Jeff Regan, and the honorary co-chair is Aileen Roberts. More information about this event and about the Architectural Hall of Fame is available on the CHHS website. Photographs of this year’s winners will be displayed at CHHS headquarters. Additional buildings will be inducted to the Hall of Fame in future years.
The 10 nominees for the Architectural Hall of Fame, listed chronologically, are:
Ferndale, 100 Summit Street (1855-1861)
Summit Street is at the highest elevation in Philadelphia. Its development as a fashionable 19th-century suburb followed the opening of the Chestnut Hill to Germantown Railroad (today’s Chestnut Hill East line) and the Consolidation Act of 1854 that saw Chestnut Hill annexed to the City. The Italianate Villa at 100 Summit Street was designed by an unknown architect for George Watson, circa 1855-1861. A two-story rear addition was added in 1909 and the tower cupola was removed in 1915. The home is now called “Ferndale” by its current owners, who are restoring the home to its former glory.
Edgecumbe (the Stevens House), 8860 Norwood Avenue, (1862-64, 1881, T.P. Chandler)
Originally constructed in the Italian Villa style, the design of this house has been attributed to architect Samuel Sloan. The house has been altered to its present eclectic state. In 1881, owner Charles B. Dunn hired Theophilus P. Chandler to add the south wing. In 1916 Chandler also drafted plans to remodel the main house with a new three-story addition and removal of its Italian Villa tower. Dramatically restored now, this house was three weeks from demolition when it was saved in 1980 by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society!
Anglecot, 401-409 E. Evergreen Avenue, (1883, Wilson Eyre)
This Shingle Style house was designed by noted architect Wilson Eyre Jr., and was heralded as innovative in form, plan, and mix of materials. All of its additions between initial construction and 1910 were by Eyre, illustrating the evolution of his style. After use as a nursing home, Anglecot was converted into nine condominiums in 1982-83 in a project that restored the single-family style façade and conserved surrounding open space.
Morris Arboretum, Meadowbrook and Hillcrest Avenues (19th-21st centuries, many notable architects)
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a cultural landscape comprised of beautiful historic and new buildings set within an internationally important arboretum. Contributors include Chandler, Cope and Stewardson, Eyre, Cret, McGoodwin, Olmsted Brothers, and Andropogon and Associates. The fernery is a signature Victorian feature, while 18th and early 19th century vernacular architecture dot the landscape, including a cottage from 1761 and mill from 1854. As agrarian land, private estate and public garden, Morris Arboretum has been a part of the community for 250 years. The 1968 demolition of the Compton mansion helped to broaden awareness of the area’s burgeoning preservation movement and sparked stellar subsequent preservation work at the Arboretum.
Chestnut Hill Fire Station, 101 West Highland Avenue (1894, John T. Windrim)
This Romanesque Revival building is attributed to architect John T. Windrim. A police substation in the same style originally stood on the left side of the building; it was demolished in 1959. The Fire Station was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society in 2014, on behalf of the community and in partnership with its owners, the City of Philadelphia.
Church of St. Martin-in-the Fields, 8000 St. Martin’s Lane (1888-89, G. W. and W. D. Hewitt)
This stone High Victorian Gothic church was built by William C. Mackie for Henry Howard Houston, as part of his planned development, which he called Wissahickon Heights. Numerous alterations to the church have occurred over the years, including the 1894 addition of a choir room (G.W. and W.D. Hewitt), a baptistery in 1898-1889 (Theophilus P. Chandler), and a new chancel in 1901 (T. P. Chandler). The Woodwards changed the name of the community to St. Martin’s, after the name of the church.
Krisheim, 7638 McCallum Street (1910-12, Peabody & Stearns, Olmsted Brothers)
This was the home of Gertrude Woodward (Henry Houston’s daughter) and her husband, Dr. George Woodward. Together they succeeded Houston as the major developer of Chestnut Hill in the first half of the 20th century. First a single-family home, then an institution, then split into apartments, Krisheim is now being returned to its original use by the Woodward family. Krisheim was designed by Peabody and Stearns, one of the premier architectural firms in the United States. The landscaping by the prominent Olmsted Brothers firm was initiated 10 years before the building was completed.
High Hollow, 101 West Hampton Road (1914-17, George Howe)
Architect George Howe’s personal residence, its design is derived in part from Howe’s student thesis at the École des Beaux-Arts in France. It is often regarded as Howe’s most significant residential work of the first phase of his career. Architect Robert A. M. Stern described the house as “often imitated” and “never surpassed” by those designing in a similar style.
Efnemheim, 416 West Moreland Avenue (Walter H. Thomas, 1917)
Walter H. Thomas designed this French-inspired stone house for Mrs. Nathan A. Taylor in 1917. She named this new house “Efnemheim” to honor her five daughters by using the first initial of each daughter’s name to form the name of the house. Thomas, Martin and Kirkpatrick designed plans for extensive renovations to the house in 1932, following a fire. These included an addition and miscellaneous interior alterations. Current owners protected this property with the historical society with a conservation easement in 2014.
614 St. Andrews Road, (2013, Eli-Antoine Atallah architect)
Designed in the Philadelphia Modernist tradition, this recent addition to the community harmonizes with surrounding older homes through the use of traditional material such as wood, brick and glass. The house is a play of material juxtaposition and light sculpting, designed to allow for maximum natural light, heating and cooling, elegantly manage stormwater, and provide privacy while celebrating the beautiful views across the valley.