Homes on the unit block of East Springfiled Avenue designed in the English Garden Suburb style.

Homes on the unit block of East Springfiled Avenue designed in the English Garden Suburb style.

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society will present the second in the series of Discovering Chestnut Hill Walking Tours on Sunday, June 14 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

The tour will look at six innovative developments of attached housing in East Chestnut Hill. These projects reflect the influence of the English Garden Suburb Movement and associated ideas concerning social housing. The tour will be led by George Bryant, a local architect and historian.

The tour will begin with the Benezet Street houses developed by Dr. George Woodward in 1910 and designed by Duhring, Okie & Ziegler. Inspired by the progressive social housing developments by Octavia Hill in London and based upon his own experience and involvement with Philadelphia’s Octavia Hill Association, this was Woodward’s first attempt to provide low-cost worker housing closer to home in Chestnut Hill. The two story twin houses that line Benezet Street were intended to be well constructed, modest conventional designs and inexpensive to rent. Much to Woodward’s surprise, they were quickly rented by white collar families.

The more innovative pair of quad houses, between East Benezet Street and East Springfield Avenue, also proved popular and economical. The three-bedroom units are joined side by side and end to end. The design provided screened service areas to hide the messy bits of laundry and trash and eliminated the “backyards” that were disliked by English Garden Suburb architects.

Two other housing groups developed by Woodward and designed by H. Louis Duhring at East Springfield Avenue and Winston Road exhibit different approaches to courtyard housing. Both projects include English stone vernacular-style houses grouped around a shared courtyard. At Winston Court, Duhring created a romantic assemblage of units that wrap around a central green, and capture the picturesque quality of a Cotswold village.

The series of stucco and brick attached houses along Winston Road and East Willow Grove Avenue were developed by Smullen & Barry under the name of St. Martin’s Home Co. and were designed by John Arthur Walker and Harold Thorp Carswell in 1922-24. The twin- and triple-house designs were very much inspired by the English cottage architecture typical of the Garden Suburb designs by Parker & Unwin and others. Walker and Carswell came to Philadelphia to work on the Bryn Athyn Cathedral and these houses are rare examples of their work outside of Bryn Athyn.

Also along Willow Grove Avenue, the Houston estate developed a series of twin houses designed by Robert Rodes McGoodwin in 1922-23. These houses show a more colonial inspiration with their hipped roofs and shutters and are distinguished by the large central chimneys and flanking porches.

The tour will conclude with a light reception. The tour is free for CHHS members and $15 for non-members.

Register online at or by calling 215-247-0417.

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