The Wissahickon Inn, now the Upper School of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, was built by Henry Houston in 1884. (Photo by Pete Mazzaccaro)

The Wissahickon Inn, now the Upper School of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, was built by Henry Houston in 1884. (Photo by Pete Mazzaccaro)

by Pete Mazzaccaro

Starting June 8, Chestnut Hill will begin a five-day series of events to mark the contributions of the Woodward family to Chestnut Hill. The events will begin with a kickoff at Woodmere Art Museum on June 8 and conclude with a worship service at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which was built by Henry Houston, the man whose suburban development was run by Dr. Charles Woodward and his wife Gertrude Houston after he died in 1885.

Will Detweiler, the former president of the Chestnut Hill Community Association, is chair of the committee that put the celebration together. He said planning for it began in earnest more than a year ago. Detweiler, who lived in Charleston S.C. for 10 years, said the significance of the Woodwards’ reach really caught his attention when he met former Charleston mayor Joe Riley and learned about how much the family had meant to Charleston’s own historical community.

“I asked Riley if he would be willing to come to Chestnut Hill to speak about it, and he said he would be honored to do so,” Detweiler said.

And with that, Detweiler and a committee of people representing the Chestnut Hill Community Association, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District began planning the events that will begin on June 8.

“The whole idea is to bring awareness to the community about what the Woodwards have done,” Detweiler said, noting that he often finds that younger residents of Chestnut Hill have no idea who the Woodwards are. “The Woodwards have done so much. We want to renew that legacy in the community.”

Along with the week’s events, a capital campaign to create a fund for the repair and maintenance of the Chestnut Hill Community Centre at 8419 Germantown Ave. will begin. The building will be renamed the Gertrude Woodward Community Centre, and a new 501(c)(3) board will be put in place to oversee the fund.

“It’s all in part with continuing the tradition of the Woodwards and taking responsibility for preserving Chestnut Hill and making sure the neighborhood we love is maintained for future generations,” Detweiler said.

The following events will take place between June 8 and 12:



Woodward Celebration Kickoff

Woodmere Art Museum

9201 Germantown Ave.

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

$25 per person

Welcome and Gallery Talk led by William R. Valerio, Ph.D., Director and CEO, Woodmere Art Museum.

Presentation: “Patrons of the Arts: The Woodwards and Violet Oakley” led by David R.Contosta, professor of history, Chestnut Hill College and Woodward family biographer.

Gallery Exhibition: Violet Oakley and the Woodward Family.


Woodward Celebration Gala Dinner

Chestnut Hill College

9601 Germantown Ave.

6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

$125 per person

Master of Ceremonies, the Right Rev. Frank T. Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and former Rector of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Presentation: “The Tale of Two Cities: Charleston, Philadelphia, and the Woodward Family” led by David R. Contosta, professor of history, Chestnut Hill College and Woodward family biographer. Presentation: “A Mayor’s Fond Reminiscences of Betty and Charles Woodward and How They Enhanced Our City” given by The Hon. Joe Riley, former 10-term mayor of Charleston, S.C.


Preservation Pioneers

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Library and Chapel

500 W. Willow Grove Ave.

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

$25 per person

Welcome and appreciation for the Woodward Contribution to preservation in Chestnut Hill, and Revolving Fund possibilities talk led by Shirley Hanson, founding member of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.

Introduction by Anna Woodward.

Presentation: “Charleston and the Woodward Effect” by Kitty Robinson, president and CEO, Historic Charleston Foundation.


Community Centre Dedication

8419 Germantown Ave.

12:30 – 1 p.m.

Free to attend

The Community Centre will be dedicated to Gertrude Houston Woodward with the building renamed as the Woodward Community Centre and the large meeting room named as the Quita Woodward Horan Gathering Center.

Community Picnic

Tent behind Community Centre

1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

$10 per person

A community celebration with Carolina BBQ, renowned HoBo Band, children’s activities and entertainment. Trolley tours of Chestnut Hill highlighting Houston-Woodward innovative community development, housing and open space will be available for an extra $5 per person.


Community Worship Service

Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

8000 St. Martins Lane

10 a.m.

Celebrating the Houston-Woodward family’s love of church and community with the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, rector. Visit and worship in a historically significant church built by the Houston-Woodward family. The service will be followed by lemonade on the lawn and a farewell.


An all-event pass is available for $175 per person. To register or purchase tickets, please visit Guests can pick up a printed invitation at the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center (CHBA), 16 East Highland Avenue. For more information, call 215-248-8810.

Complementing the official Woodward Celebration 2016 event series, Paris Bistro (8229 Germantown Ave.) will host “Best of Charleston Meets Chestnut Hill – A Celebrity Chef Dinner” on Wednesday, June 8. From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. guests can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Chef Al Paris of Paris Bistro and Donald Drake of Charleston’s famous Magnolias Restaurant, as they craft a limited edition culinary celebration that pays homage to the connection between the two towns made strong by the contributions of the Woodward family. Tickets for the meal are $45 a person (not including tax, gratuity or alcohol) and are available via

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