A crowd enjoys the Wissahickon and Nature slideshow at the 2017 Night of Lights (Photo by Matt Flaherty)

by Leah Silverstein, Director of Operations and Special Projects, Chestnut Hill Conservancy

On Friday, October 5, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy will be presenting the second annual Night of Lights, an innovative public art exhibit that will transform Chestnut Hill’s commercial corridor into an interactive exhibit of local history and architecture. Many area shops and restaurants will be open late, inviting visitors to experience Germantown Avenue as never before.

During this one evening, historical images and films from the Conservancy’s Archives will once again be projected through storefront windows and onto exterior walls, while neighboring buildings along Germantown Avenue will be illuminated with colored lights. Following the success of last year’s original concept, Night of Lights will expand with additional projection sites further across Germantown Avenue, as well as new interactive elements designed to immerse the visitor in the ongoing story of Chestnut Hill. Long-time business owners will become interpreters for the evening, sharing stories and engaging the community about their own history. Demonstrations by expert artisan stone masons, woodworkers and metal smiths — many of them descendants of the artisans who built Chestnut Hill — will be featured alongside vintage cars, street musicians and more.

Night of Lights was designed to showcase the Chestnut Hill Archives by bringing the collection out of the Conservancy’s headquarters and into the community’s vibrant historic commercial corridor. With over 21,000 photographs, maps, records and historical documents, the Conservancy’s collection documents the community’s architectural and social history from the 1680s to the present. This year’s window projections will feature a range of themes highlighting the breadth of this diverse resource, including Chestnut Hill’s business district, the Houston and Woodward families, the history of water in the Northwest, the Wissahickon, historic interiors, the Italian artisans who built Chestnut Hill and more. Jacob F . Ruth Funeral Directors, Inc. and Walter A. Dwyer, Inc. — two of the oldest active businesses from Chestnut Hill, established in 1851 and 1875, respectively — will be celebrated with their own dedicated slideshows and receive special recognition as Featured Legacy Businesses.

Organized in partnership with the Chestnut Hill Business District, this street-long spectacular will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Germantown Avenue between Rex Avenue and Willow Grove Avenue. A 7 p.m. opening reception at the Water Tower will kick off the event with a “Flip the Switch” ceremony to turn on the lights.

Sponsors include the Nottingham-Goodman Group of Merrill Lynch, Bowman Properties, Dennis Meyer Inc., Friends of the Wissahickon, the George Woodward Co., MIS Capital LLC, Philadelphia Water Department, Washington Investment Consultants, the Chestnut Hill Hotel and Market at the Fareway, Dantastic Food Styling, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Kurtz Construction, Matthew Millan Architects, Inc., the Sivel Group and Univest Bank.