Almshouses in affluent Chestnut Hill? Not exactly, but the origins of the ubiquitous twin houses and occasional triples and quads built by the Houston and Woodward families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries date back to the medieval English institution that provided a home for the poor, sick or elderly.

The influence of the almshouse on the architecture of Chestnut Hill is the subject of “From Almshouse to Artistic Attached House,” featured in the current issue of the Germantown Crier. Written by local architect/historian George Bryant, the article traces not only the history of architectural styles but also the emergence of new ideas in urban planning, especially the English garden city and garden suburb movements that played so important a part in the development of Chestnut Hill.

Also in this issue is “Hidden in Plain Sight,” describing some of the little-noticed manmade changes to the natural landscape of Northwest Philadelphia. Author Alex Bartlett, an archivist at the Chestnut Hill and Germantown historical societies has written an eye-opening article reflecting his life-long interest in the history of this area, informed by his training as an archaeologist.

The Germantown Crier, is published by Historic Germantown, a partnership of 15 extraordinary Philadelphia houses, destinations and museums. Copies of the current issue are available by calling HG at 215-844-1683.

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