SCH tree removal is vandalism

As a Houston family member living abroad, I was unaware of the vandalism at Springside School until my current visit to Chestnut Hill.

I am horrified to see that all the perimeter trees on Willow Grove Avenue and Cherokee Street have been destroyed. There seems to be little appreciation by the board of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy for their physical environment.

Do you think that Lawrenceville School with its Frederick Law Olmstead landscape would have been so shortsighted as to tear down the landscape? They understand that the parents want the beautiful environment.

My grandfather, Samuel Frederick Houston, as chairman of the Houston Estate, preserved the trees for 67 years. His daughter, Edith Houston Brown, preserved the trees for a further 30 years, making a total of more than 100 years of protection for those trees. By the way, Springside School has never acknowledged her gift of The Lawn of the Druim Moir to Springside School with a plaque. Maybe the Springside-CHA board might do so now.

In my opinion, the SCH board needs to consider the following:

1. Willow Grove Avenue is one of the principal avenues of Chestnut Hill. An avenue is lined with trees in the French-Beaux-Arts tradition. Historically Willow Grove Avenue has been lined with trees from the gates of Druim Moir to St. Martin’s station.

The big trees need to be replaced with equally large trees (not like the puny ones across the street at SCH). The pattern established by the Philadelphia Cricket Club with its brick wall and lines of trees could be repeated for the rest of Willow Grove Avenue to the gates of Druim Moir.

2. When Mr. Frank Steel, principal of CHA, was planning the new Science Building, I asked him to place the parking at the back of the site by Springfield Avenue. Instead he placed the parking lot on Willow Grove Avenue. Who ever heard of wasting a prime spot on Willow Grove Avenue on parking?

3. The track at SCH was given by my mother, Eleanor Houston Smith, and her sisters for outdoor recreation. But parking has been allowed to encroach on the track area against the intentions of the Houston family.

4. Another eyesore is the line of four telephone poles on Cherokee Street. Why have the poles not been taken down and the wires put underground instead of destroying the trees? There is enough public agitation over the vandalism for the schools to raise the money to put the wires underground. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy would be making an important contribution to the environment if they removed telephone poles instead of trees.

5. Chestnut Hill has recently been voted one of the 30 most beautiful towns in the United States. This is partially the result of all the trees planted by the Houston family, the preservation of open space at the Cricket Club, the trees opposite St. Martin’s Church, Pastorius Park, and the trees planted on Seminole Avenue amongcountless examples.

6. As a reminder of what could possibly happen to the SCH board, I recently successfully went to the Orphans Court to stop the Schuylkill Center for Enrichment Education board from trying to sell some of the SCEE land and handing over the Eleanor Houston Smith building to the Green Woods charter school, as I was fed up with people blatantly trying to break the wills of the Houston family. As a result of the court action, the Charter School is gone and SCEE cannot sell its land without permission from the courts.

We could contemplate further action unless the newly formed SCH school takes responsibility for improving the green environment by replacing the large trees with large trees and removing the telephone poles.

Eleanor K. Houston Smith Morris

Chestnut Hill


Thanks for partnership on SCH campus

If you have driven through the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy campus recently, you have no doubt seen the transformation of our outdoor athletic fields and the laying of brick pathways connecting our 62-acre campus.

We are thrilled to be nearing completion of this project, and anxiously await the arrival of over 226 trees and formal landscaping at the end of the month that will put the final touches on Phase I of our Campus Master Plan.

On behalf of our entire school community, I would like to thank the partners who have stood with us as we revitalize our playing fields and created pathways that will serve our students and the larger community. Without support from the Friends of the Wissahickon, Chestnut Hill Historical Society, Chestnut Hill Community Association, Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia Water Department and the City of Philadelphia, this work would not have been possible.

We would also like to thank our neighbors who have supported and worked with us on the planning and execution of this significant project. We hope you will visit the campus soon.

Priscilla G. Sands, Ed.D.

President, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy


Green Party vote is beyond belief

I was sorry to read Lawrence Geller’s commentary about why he will vote for the Green Party this November. Whatever his argument, it is clear he is not a woman, and definitely not a poor woman.

A win by the Republican Party this year, according to their own statements, will bring serious policy changes for women’s health issues, and long-term change in the Supreme Court, and in my opinion will lead to great suffering.

Why Mr. Geller is willing to risk the long-term suffering of others (not his) for what he himself describes as a “lost cause,” simply in order to feel better about himself, is beyond my understanding.

Peggy MacGregor

Mt. Airy


Black and White Gala a big success!

Oh, what a night, late

October of 2012

What a very special time for us.

As I remember, what a night!

What a Gala, what a night!


This past Saturday evening, the CHCA, CHCF and Chestnut Hill Hospital held a very successful Black and White Gala on the grounds of the hospital, where there was much to celebrate. By all accounts, the event was extraordinary. It was built on vision, partnerships and commitment.

The generosity throughout this community was overwhelming from auction donations to sponsorships. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our committed and hardworking committee, volunteers and staff who lent their time, expertise, relationships and resources to the event.

Without everyone’s dedicated assistance – particularly that of our fabulous committee members and staff – this event would not have been possible. We are truly grateful for everything you each contributed to making this a wonderful evening and a beautiful event!


Dawn Timmeny – Honorary Chair

Kevin M. Boyle, CEC – CHH

Cathy Brzozowski – CHH

Julie Byrne

Michala Costello

Patrician M. Cove

Nancy Evans

Scott Friend – CHH

Lisa Howe

Caroline Estey King

Laura Lucas

Nancy McGettigan

Kathie Meadow

Adeline Mandel

Janice Manzi

Jonna Naylor

Chris Padova

Marilyn Paucker

Paula M. Riley

Bob Rossman

John Scanlon

Glenna Stone


Arianna Neromiliotis

Aurora Neromiliotis

Paul Heinsdorf

Angela Conway

Tyler Perry


Staff Members

Celeste Hardester – CHCA

Noreen Spota – CHCA

Ray DeJohn – CHL

Selma Elbana – CHCA

Cheryl Massaro – CHL

Rachel Spota – CHCA

Ellen Clinton


Thank you all and see you on the Avenue and at the next Black & White Gala!


Black & White Gala

Co-Chairs – 2012

Susan Bray

Marianne Dwyer

Jane M. Piotrowski


‘A nice lady’

I am so sorry to read in this week’s Local that Jane Lenel had died. That was a nice article you wrote. I recently learned that she lived at Cathedral Village and was glad to see her byline again in the Local, and had hoped I’d run into her. She was great to work with and was a nice lady. (She did some proofreading/copy editing as well.)

Katie Worrall



‘Lack of vision’ at the Local

I challenge Len Lear’s contention that “Rev. Bev” is “progressive” in her sexuality (“Minister’s one-woman show…from Eggbeaters to Vibrators,” Local Life, Oct. 18). What does “progressive” mean in this context? Is sexual “progressiveness” what we used to call promiscuity?

The Sexual Revolution has utterly trivialized life in the United States and led to the infantilization of discourse in America. Folks today can’t even send their boys to the Boy Scouts without being accused by the politically correct of being “homophobic.” (“Boy Scouts brave, clean and reverent {and homophobic}” Mike Todd’s “Over the Top” column in the same issue.)

I’d like to tell Mike Todd, Len Lear and “Rev. Bev” that there is a good reason for confining sexuality to marriage and for preventing homosexuals from destroying the Boy Scouts. Rev. Bev is right in one sense: sex is all-devouring biology. But she’s wrong in her conclusion. It is precisely the social defense against biology (i.e., marriage) that needs to be protected for the sake of long-term achievements. And as for one’s children: protecting them from sexual exploitation is among the first duties of any decent parent.

Have we become so corrupted in our opinions that there can be any doubt in this matter?

The attempt of the Chestnut Hill Local to pander to the Sexual Revolution by grabbing at its tattered coattails in these weak and conformist articles speaks volumes for the lack of vision and leadership in the Local and in our wider society. I will not long maintain my subscription if this is to be the new dispensation.

Caryl Johnston



Pizza article needed more information

I enjoyed your wonderful article about Barb Gunning and her extraordinary pizza store. My husband and I have been faithful clients of Mom’s Pizza, now Chestnut Hill Bake at Home, for years and were delighted to see Barb get such good publicity. One item I noticed missing was her address, email and phone number. That information distributed by the Local would certainly help this local and worthy business prosper.

Nancy Pugh