What’s your favorite treasured place in Chestnut Hill? It's time to vote for new sites to join the Chestnut Hill Architectural Hall of Fame.
What’s your favorite treasured place in Chestnut Hill?
A highlight of the Spring season each year is the Chestnut Hill Conservancy competition for the honor of joining The Chestnut Hill Architectural Hall of Fame. The Conservancy has narrowed down the competition to 10 eligible local places this year, and now it’s time to vote on which you prefer.
The distinguished list this year includes some of Chestnut Hill’s most treasured buildings, structures, and landscapes. These properties represent groundbreaking approaches to planning and design; are significant for their design, materials and craftsmanship; are an exceptional example of their style; or are of historical significance because of their age, or they are associated with a historical event or person.
“Chestnut Hill is one of the region’s most beautiful, green and architecturally distinguished communities – Philadelphia’s Garden District,” said executive director Lori Salganicoff. “We welcome everyone to vote to have their favorite architectural treasures honored in this way.”
You can register your vote at chconservancy.org. This year’s winners will be announced and celebrated at the 2023 Architectural Hall of Fame Gala garden party fundraiser on June 3 at the beautiful Boxly Estate Manor House. Tickets are still available on the Conservancy’s website.
The finalists are organized into three categories: Residential, Institutional, and Commercial & Public:
Chestnut Hill is nationally known for the quality of its single-family houses, some of which have been designed by important local and national architects. Less well-known are the many other types of local residential construction, including more modest double and even quadruple houses, row houses, multifamily residential buildings that have been created from other structures, and new apartment buildings. All these buildings contribute to the rich and varied tapestry of local residential architecture and offer a wide variety of options for people of differing tastes and means.
Casey Ice House (aka Willets Studio)
7900-06 Lincoln Drive, 225 W Springfield Ave. (1843; alterations in 1913, 1924, H. Louis Duhring)
Architect H. Louis Duhring converted the icehouse into three dwellings and gave the building its present Mediterranean-influenced appearance in 1913 and again in 1924. Duhring designed alterations again in 1925 and 1933. William Henry Parker designed the attached garage and several alterations in 1940. Kneedler, Mirick & Zantzinger designed additional alterations in 1959.
One of the most prominent examples of adaptive reuse in Chestnut Hill, Dr. Woodward originally had the ice house building converted into a dwelling and workspace for Henry Willet of Willet Stained Glass Studies in 1913.
Tudor twins on the 200 block of East Highland Avenue
202-244 East Highland Avenue (1916, Andrew Charles Borzner)
In 1916 developer and contractor John Craig hired architect Andrew Charles Borzner to design 22 stone and stuccoed brick dwellings. These twins are grouped into mirroring pairs, with curved and straight bay windows, a front sunroom, and parking underneath. Residents say that the close nature of the houses has made for close relationships with those who live on the block.
Borzner later worked as an architect for Bethlehem Steel Co., the Budd Manufacturing Co., and the Cramp Shipbuilding Co.
7827 Ardleigh St. (1926, H. Louis Duhring, Emil Lorenzon)
In 1926 Emil Lorenzon built this house for his family. Emilio was one of five Lorenzon brothers who came to Chestnut Hill during the years 1896 to1906 from the northern Italian town of Poffabro. The brothers, like many in Poffabro, had been trained by their father as skilled stonemasons.
The Lorenzon family was among the most prominent of the Italian stonemasons during one of Chestnut Hill’s greatest periods of growth, and the family remains involved in the building trades to this day. This home is a beautiful example of their care and craftsmanship.
“Homewood” 9002 Crefeld Street
9002 Crefeld St. (1929-30, Tilden, Register & Pepper; 1949, Office of Horace Trumbauer)
Homewood was built in 1929-30 for prominent Philadelphia attorney Schofield Andrews. It is distinct from the Wissahickon Schist structures more common in the area, with random-patterned brown stone structures organized around a large, square courtyard whose front wall borders the street.
The Norman-style country house is situated on five acres adjoining Wissahickon Park. Eleanor Widener Dixon purchased the estate in 1949, engaging the office of Horace Trumbauer to design extensive alterations including the installation of Tudor-period wood paneling salvaged from Dixon’s Elkins Park estate, Ronaele (Eleanor backward) Manor, reported to have been obtained from the hunting lodge of King James I. The property has been lovingly restored and updated by its recent owners.
Thriving neighborhoods benefit from a range of compatible building and land uses, and from its creation, Chestnut Hill has always featured an engaging mix. Our commercial core is best known for its appealing shops, catering to both daily needs and destination shoppers seeking something special. Those shops are complemented by a range of other businesses, houses of worship, non-profit organizations, offices, restaurants, and recreational spaces. All contribute to a vital community.
Our Mother of Consolation (OMC) Complex
7-27 East Chestnut Hill Ave. (1855-1916, Edwin Durang, John J. Kennedy)
In 1854, John Middleton, a wealthy Quaker who had recently converted to Catholicism, determined that Chestnut Hill should have a Catholic church – amidst considerable anti-Catholic opposition from some in the community. At that time, many of the community’s house staff were recent immigrants from Ireland and other Catholic countries.
In the late 1860s, the parish changed its name to St. Mary – Our Lady of Consolation, which evolved to Our Mother of Consolation in the late 1870s. A new parish hall and school were completed in 1888, and a larger more modern rectory and school were built in 1904 (Edwin Durang, architect) and 1916 (John J. Kennedy, architect), respectively. The school suffered a devastating fire on March 21 that took the roof but left much of the stone structure.
Although the installation of a Catholic church almost produced a riot 160 years ago, it – like the fire-damaged school building – remains a strong force in the community.
VFW Post #5205
8217 Germantown Ave. (1859)
Built in 1859, 8217-19 Germantown Ave.’s original primary tenant was Hiram Lodge No. 81, Free and Accepted Masons, which occupied the third floor. Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church used the second floor for worship services until they opened their own church at 8300 Germantown in 1871, and a grocery store occupied the first floor.
With membership high, including veterans of both World Wars, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5205 raised enough money to purchase the building in 1950. By 1966, the VFW planned to remove the building’s third floor to address deteriorating stucco, woodwork and roof conditions.
These plans changed when community activist Ann Spaeth published a letter in the Chestnut Hill Local, prompting the community to raise substantial funds for its restoration. That restoration played a critical role in the formation of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society (now the Chestnut Hill Conservancy) in 1967. The VFW substantially renovated the building in a campaign that began in 2018.
Bounded by Abington Avenue, Millman Street, Roanoke Street, and houses on Navajo Street, Sunrise Lane, Lincoln Drive, and Shawnee Street (1937, Frederick W. G. Peck)
Named for Francis Pastorius, the German-born Quaker who founded Germantown in 1683, Pastorius Park was conceived in the early 1910s by George Woodward, influenced by his visit to Hyde Park in London.
The land that comprises the present-day park was donated by Woodward but languished for more than 20 years until the Fairmount Park Commission hired landscape architect Frederick W. G. Peck to develop a design for the Park.
Woodward was pleased with the design and bought the materials for the Works Progress Administration project in 1937. Since then, the Park has been restored several times with the help of the community, including the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Friends of Pastorius Park.
Today, it remains true to its original design and the original vision of George Woodward.
Commercial & Public
7673 Germantown Ave. (1913, Koelle, Speth & Co.)
The early history of this local landmark is quite murky; the original inn is believed to have been built in 1734. It was one of several important local stops for weary travelers making the trek between the City of Philadelphia and the farms and towns to the north and west, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Reading. It appears to have remained largely unaltered until Winston Road was opened, which required the demolition of that original building.
The new version of the inn was constructed in 1913, was designed and constructed by Koelle, Speth & Co., and may have incorporated some elements of the original building.
Germantown Trust Company (aka Wells Fargo Bank)
8527 Germantown Ave. (1928, Arthur H. Brockie)
Germantown Trust Company’s Chestnut Hill Branch relocated in 1928 to its newly constructed building at 8527 Germantown Ave. Architect Arthur H. Brockie designed the building.
The bank was most recently used as the Chestnut Hill Branch for Wells Fargo Bank, and before that held the First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company. This building was altered in 1959, 1972, and more recently when Wells Fargo installed a concrete entrance ramp one dark October evening in 2017. Approaching its 100th anniversary, the building was vacated in 2023 and is now for sale.
Valley Green Inn
7 Valley Green Road at Wissahickon Creek (ca. 1850, 1937)
Circa 1850, local landowner Thomas Livezey rented Edward Rinker this site on the Creek to construct Rinker’s Hotel, now known as the Valley Green Inn. At Rinker’s Hotel, a traditional dinner of catfish and waffles was served, as was customary in other hotels along the Wissahickon Creek in the 19th century.
As Philadelphia grew and industrialized, the City’s efforts to protect its water supply included the destruction of many structures along the Creek and the resulting vacant land was incorporated into Fairmount Park. The Inn was considered for demolition, but survived.
A number of local people, including Charles W. Henry, raised more than $1200 to save and restore the building. This was completed in 1901, and the old hotel became known as the Valley Green Inn.
Additional restorations were made in the mid-1930s with the help of the Friends of the Wissahickon, and the Inn was rededicated in 1937. Since then, the Inn has been run with the support of the Friends of the Wissahickon.