Beth and Daniel Collins won a CHHS Preservation Award renovating their home.

Beth and Daniel Collins won a CHHS Preservation Award renovating their home.

by Shirley Hanson

Building owners, neighbors, architects and contractors, and Chestnut Hill-area lovers, you are invited to nominate your favorite project for the Chestnut Hill Historical Society’s second annual Preservation Recognition Awards.

To qualify, projects must meet one of these criteria: preserve or protect historic resources in the built or natural environment, exemplify appropriate historic building restoration, rehabilitation or adaptive reuse, or demonstrate good stewardship of an important building. Also, the project must be within the boundaries of the Chestnut Hill National Historic District (virtually all of Chestnut Hill).

Projects must be completed by December 1, 2015, which is the deadline for applying for an award. Nomination guidelines and a form are now available on the historical society’s website at

Continuing coverage of the First Preservation Awards:

For the initial “Discovering Chestnut Hill” column we saluted two award winners: Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, for their renovation of the Henry Library, and the Friends of the Wissahickon, for their stewardship of the Valley Green Inn since 1934.

Here we present Daniel and Beth Collins, winners of a 2014 award for their remarkable grit and fortitude in bringing back to life the Fleer House. Designed by Bishop and Montgomery in the International Style, this building is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

To many, the project would have seemed hopeless. Not to Daniel Collins, a LEED-certified architect who acted as project manager. The condition that confronted him was a house that had been vacant from 2007 through 2013. It had taken a hit from a fallen tree that destroyed four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the upper level along with two more bedrooms and two bathrooms on the lower level.

Although the roof was covered by a tarpaulin, rain and snow drained directly into the house, causing extensive deterioration. After the roof was replaced, Hurricane Irene deposited another tree through the roof of the Great Room. Through the Collins’ skill and respect, the home is now restored to reflect the original Bishop and Montgomery design.

The first annual Preservation Recognition Awards also honored two owners of significant properties, one on Summit Street and the other on Seminole Avenue for careful roof replacement. For the Summit Street house, the owners had replaced the existing roof in 1990 with 3/8-inch cedar shingles. In 2012 this roof showed signs of deterioration. Although this roof could have lasted for several years with piecemeal repairs, the owners gave the home a new roof of 7/8-inch by 24-inch taper-sawn cedar shingles. The roofer also installed 2-inch by 4-inch pole gutters with copper-clad stainless steel metal inside and outside of the gutter pole, new cornice eave pipes, and copper-clad stainless steel metal custom-made vent pipe collars and flashing.

The owners of the Seminole Avenue house replaced a disintegrating slate roof with a new Grade S1 green slate, quarried in Vermont, using copper nails. The slate is graduated from 7/8 inch at the bottom to ¼ inch at the top, with the slates random in width. Hand-rolled copper gutters and valleys were installed and anchored along the house for drainage purposes. Attention to these details resulted in a subtly beautiful and historically appropriate roof.

Do you have questions about caring for your own older building? For answers check out the Historical Society’s Resource Center at its headquarters, 8708 Germantown Ave. The Resource Center includes information about contractors, product suppliers, old windows, preparing your house for winter, paint, the National Park Service Preservation Briefs, and much more. Or you can contact Tim Wood, Resource Center Manager, at

Would you like to know more about the history of your house, your street, or the development of the area of Chestnut Hill where you live? Among the more than 20,000 items in the historical society’s collections, you can satisfy your curiosity. Contact for an appointment.

Are you curious about the history of Chestnut Hill? Visit our new comprehensive exhibit “300 Years of Chestnut Hill’s History” at 8708 Germantown Ave. CHHS is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.