May 13, 2023

Walking Tour of the West Side of Chestnut Hill

Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St. Martins Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19118

Group meets at 10:00am

ICAA Members: $20 | General Public: $30 | Students: $15
Registration required – maximum attendees: 25

Explore the west side of Chestnut Hill over two hours on foot with architecture historian George McNeely. The village itself developed in the late 17th and 18th centuries at the highest point of what is now Philadelphia, along the former Native American path that is now Germantown Avenue, just before the topography drops down to the broad Whitemarsh Valley. The Reading Railroad opened on the east side of the village in 1854 and brought the first wave of Victorian suburban villas. Our tour will focus on the development of the west side by businessman and philanthropist Henry Howard Houston, who encouraged the opening of the second suburban railway line in 1884 across farmland that he had acquired to continue his earlier real estate development efforts in nearby Germantown. To attract residents, he first created the Wissahickon Inn, the Philadelphia Cricket Club, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Episcopal) Church, all designed by his preferred architects the Hewitt brothers. He built nearby single and double houses in the French Second Empire, Queen Anne and Shingle styles. His son-in-law, George Woodward, continued the project in the early 20th century with houses in the Arts & Crafts, English Cotswold, French Norman and Colonial Revival styles, as well as parks and other landscape features. He worked with the triumvirate of Walter Duhring (Duhring Okie & Ziegler), Robert McGoodwin, and Edmund Gilchrist. Scattered in are also modern houses by Kenneth Day, Robert Venturi and Louis Kahn. Chestnut Hill continues today as one of Philadelphia’s most desirable neighborhoods, blessed with excellent architecture and abundant parks.

After the tour, George will offer directions to other areas of Chestnut Hill or particular buildings that might also be of interest.

Advanced registration is required.