On the Road: A letter from Bethlehem

Our Town | February 21st, 2020 | Leave a comment

by George McNeely This writer has long wondered why Philadelphia seems to have mostly turned its back to the nearby, gritty foothills of the Appalachians, where our citizens have made so much money? Through the centuries, Philadelphia has benefited from a steady stream of valuable commodities out of those hills and valleys: wheat and other […]

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The Benson Architectural Legacy In Chestnut Hill (part one)

Our Town | January 24th, 2020 | Leave a comment

The Benson family has lived in or near Chestnut Hill for some six generations, with many family members here today. Over those generations, they built or owned a number of interesting houses, creating an important architectural legacy. Some houses are gone, but others happily remain today. Let’s start with one of their prominent ancestors during […]

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A phoenix rising: a history of the Chestnut Hill Fire House

Our Town | January 9th, 2020 | Leave a comment

by George McNeely The current careful restoration of our firehouse on Highland Avenue leads this writer to wonder how the sleepy village of Chestnut Hill ended up with such a grand and imposing building?  The firehouse was constructed in 1884 to the designs of John Torrey Windram (1886-1934), the prolific Philadelphia architect.  Its style has […]

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Boxly: A botanical legacy survives in Chestnut Hill

Our Town | December 5th, 2019 | Leave a comment

by George McNeely Digging around in the rich history of Chestnut Hill and vicinity sometimes takes us on unexpected journeys. That is certainly the case with Boxly, the prominent local estate that survives today in engaging ways. The most visible surviving part is the house that can be partly seen from either West Gravers Lane […]

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Finding God everywhere: A short religious history of Chestnut Hill

Our Town | November 14th, 2019 | Leave a comment

by George McNeely People seek spiritual sustenance in different ways. Over the centuries, the verdant Wissahickon Valley has offered calm and regeneration. Nearby, man-made places of worship have been built over the centuries. They offer spiritual sustenance through varied religious traditions and reflect the ever-evolving demographics of this area. When William Penn secured a royal […]

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