DECEMBER 20, 1998

by Melani Lamond and Richard Kirk

On Sunday, December 20th from 1-5 p.m., plan to attend the first Holiday House Tour sponsored by the University City Historical Society to be cosponsored by University City Pride, the area's new organization of gay and lesbian neighbors.

Plans are now firmly in place and set out in the accompanying flyer of what promises to be a fabulous tour—about a dozen Victorian places in the heart of University City, all part of the new Streetcar Suburb national historic district, all decked out in holiday decor, overflowing with good cheer, hosted by their welcoming lesbian and gay homeowners! This year, this first-ever lesbian and gay house tour in Philadelphia will feature the largest Tiffany windows in the city, the largest bed-and-breakfast hotel in the city, and the former home of the first person to publicly come out in the city of Philadelphia! A gala reception will cap off the tour, to which all participants are invited.

Tickets at $12/person are available at the new Marigold Dining Room, 501 S. 45th Street, which also will be open for brunch from 11 to 2:30 on the tour day.


University City and Penn's Iron Gate Theatre will witness another hometown "first" when Granville Wyche Burgess' holiday musical "A Country Carol" begins its premiere run on December 11 through January 3 at 3701 Chestnut Street. Inspired by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," but unlike it, "an American version, full of the bouncy music and buoyant optimism of our people," according to Burgess, shown at left in consultation with Dickens and Little Nell in Clark Park.

Burgess' musical follows the travels in time and memory of its hero from Appalachia to vaudeville and back and of rediscovery and renewal of values, all accompanied by "a myriad of American musical idioms—Broadway, country, swing, blues, gospel, rock & roll, and ballad," to give everyone an experience which will hopefully become a new holiday tradition in the neighborhood.

Full details are provided on the enclosed poster card, but certain performances stand out, like the University City District's "Go West, Go International, Third Thursday" evening performance on December 17 to benefit ARTSWEST, The West Philadelphia Partners for the Arts. That evening offers University City the chance to see the show and support one of its major arts' promoters.

Families, both adults and children, might want to take advantage of major ticket discounts for the Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. on December 19 for the "Penn/Community Family Matinee." Everyone can be a kid again and pay only $10/seat if you ask for the special discounts from Upstages for this performance. It will also feature special opportunities to meet the performers and collect autographs after the show.

Then, to celebrate the start of the last year of the century, you might like to put together a group and book places at the New Year's Eve Show and Party at $75/person. The gala will include, in addition to the evening performance, much additional music, food, and drink, with a cash bar for hard liquor to usher in the new year.

All performances can be booked through Upstages (215) 569-9700, with group sales available at (215) 487-7637.


Malcolm Cochran, the artist provided Baltimore Avenue in Bloom by the Fairmount Park Art Association to develop a public art proposal for Baltimore Avenue under its New*Land*Marks program is asking, by means of the enclosed "Tree Top Trolley Tour," for your help. Having made two extended visits to the area from his home base in Columbus, Ohio, Malcolm is requesting your responses to the questions on the "tour sheet" about your memories of Baltimore Avenue, the neighborhood and personal botanical recollections to help shape his vision.

He also would welcome sharing any photos of Baltimore Avenue of the 1960's or before that you may be aware of. Both your responses and images can be sent to Baltimore Avenue in Bloom along with the Tree Top Trolley Tour which has been distributed on the Route 34 trolley and in neighborhood newsletters.

Malcolm's art proposals for the avenue will also be shaped by a "Baltimore Avenue Design Charette" planned for late January. This will involve a group of University City design professionals in a close look at present conditions and future possibilities on the avenue. A fuller report will appear in the next newsletter.


The Preservation Alliance's Philadelphia Old House Fair, the largest and oldest such event on the East Coast, returns this January, 1999 with the theme, "Celebrate the Best Your Old Home Can Be."

The 14th annual fair will be held on January 16th and 17th, 10:00 to 5:30 at the National Guard Armory (33rd Street just North of Market Street).

Featured exhibits include information about restoration and addition projects from the American Institute of Architects; one-on-one consultations with architects and contractors; advice on home furnishings and gardens from decorators and landscapers. A marketplace will include over 100 exhibitors, from contractors and artisans to specialty product suppliers. There will also be lectures, demonstrations, a designer workroom, food court, and the Old House Clinic.

Admission is $8; children under 12 are free. Revenue raised at the Fair helps support the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia in its mission to work with individual homeowners, stewards of historic buildings, and government and community leaders to ensure the protection and appropriate development of Philadelphia's extraordinary historic resources—including buildings, neighborhoods and landscapes.

For more information about the Fair, call Sam Friedman at the Alliance. 526-1146, ext. 16.

By Robin Dougherty

Over the past year there has been some discussion in these pages about stolen architectural elements, particularly doorknobs, gates, and basement window grates. You might like to have a look at the web site of "Recycling the Past," a company in Barnegat, N.J., that specializes in the sale of antique architectural elements.

I hope that seeing how much it could cost to replace missing gates and window grates might encourage homeowners whose ironwork is still intact to take the necessary steps to photo document these elements of their homes and to do whatever they can to secure any loose pieces (in some cases, even a bicycle lock on a piece of fence or a gate could be a sufficient, though temporary, solution). Also, given the fact that Philadelphia police recently recovered a hoard of stolen ironwork, I hope that homeowners will understand the importance of both documentation in advance and, in the event that any elements are stolen from their houses, making a timely police report. These aren't minor matters for the history of the neighborhood

I would also like to encourage everyone to have a look at the photos below. This is one of two, 6` x 3' 8', that were found behind the Spruce Hill Community Center on South 45th Street by UCHS member, Lynda Blythe, who stored them there for safekeeping.

They look like they belong somewhere in the neighborhood and we welcome ideas about from where they were taken. This is but the latest item in the sad, but continuing, saga of the raping of Philadelphia's historic heritage of decorative ironwork. Perhaps someone might recognize where these pieces of fence might have come from and get in touch.

Also new on the web site is the complete text and illustrations of A History Of Philadelphia's University City by Leon S. Rosenthal, UCHS's first president, copyright 1963, courtesy of the West Philadelphia Partnership.

Finally, the UCHS web site has posted a list of "quick facts" compiled by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia on the economic benefits of preserving Philadelphia's past. This is fascinating reading.

By Doris Cochran-Fikes
UCHS Board Member

All UCHS members are invited to submit nominations for 1998 Gift to the Street Awards. Annual awards are presented in the categories of "Outstanding Preservation" and "Preservation Initiative." In addition, UCHS recognizes residential, commercial and institutional property owners for paint jobs, restoration, and preservation efforts that have helped to beautify our University City neighborhood.

If you know of an individual or a group whose efforts have positively impacted the neighborhood landscape during the 1998 calendar year, please briefly describe why you think they are deserving and send names and addresses (or just addresses if names are unknown) to: Doris Cochran-Fikes, Co-Chair, UCHS Awards Committee, 802 S. 48th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143, 215-726-8592.

The deadline for awards nominations is December 31, 1998. Gift to the Street Awards will be presented at a UCHS pre-Valentine's Day Tea to be held on Sunday, February 7 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at The Dor-Den, 802 S. 48th Street. All UCHS members will be invited to attend.


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