MARCH 2000


New Beginnings For Old And Dear Things

By Kathy Dowdell, UCHS President

Spring is coming, and we all know that means flowers, beautiful weather, and little green buds on trees. For those of us at UCHS, we are hoping that the little green buds on our trees will be sprouting money. In this newsletter, and in separate mailings you will receive from us, you will discover that we are asking for donations to several worthy and needy causes. To us, all of this fundraising activity signifies real progress for our neighborhood. People are excited about the possibilities in our historic buildings and green spaces, and are eager to refurbish, adapt, and improve those resources. However, it also means that we are asking our members to be unusually generous, as there are currently a number of causes that we support that still need more help. Those of you who attended our February tea will be familiar with some of the following:

Calvary Center for Culture and Community: The UCHS has long been a supporter of the historic Calvary church building at 48th and Baltimore Avenue. A new non-profit organization, the “Calvary Center for Culture and Community,” is being formed. As part of this, the William Penn Foundation awarded Calvary a grant of $50,000.00, which with our help and generous individuals, in and outside the congregation and UCHS, was matched with $25,000 in locally raised funds. As the enclosed brochure indicates, the next step is to “Open the Doors” of the fabulous main sanctuary. For this effort, until the Calvary Center has its 501c3 status, contributions should be sent to the UCHS address, but should be made out to the “Friends of Calvary.” As part of our support for this effort, the UCHS will be moving from our current post office box to a permanent office at Calvary. More details to follow.

Clark Park: The University City District, working with the Department of Recreation and the Friends of Clark Park, has agreed to take on the coordination of maintenance for Clark Park. The UCD has hired an independent contractor to perform basic maintenance at the park – grass cutting, tree pruning, raking and clean-up, etc. – which will leave the Friends of Clark Park free to concentrate on flower planting, and on planning activities for the park. This effort needs both corporate and neighborhood support. A fundraising party is being planned for Thursday, May 4, 2000, with invitations in the mail, including our members. Although the price of the fundraiser tickets may be steep for some, it is important to remember that the money raised improves the park for all users. Please plan on attending this worthwhile party, or sending a contribution to the University City District at 3940-42 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3111. Make sure to indicate that your check is for Clark Park, as this effort has also received a challenge grant, which will double your contribution!

Walnut West Library: The change in mayoral administrations has left our library somewhat in limbo. The branch continues to operate out of the temporary space on 3900 Walnut Street, and the beautiful historic building, with its black shroud, sits awaiting its fate. Our councilwoman, Jannie Blackwell, has been most helpful in pushing for funds for the restoration of this building, and the return of the library to its rightful place; however, the Friends of Walnut West have also made an impressive start on a separate building fund, to be donated to the restoration of the building when its future is secure. Already over $16,000 has been painstakingly collected from book sales, collection jars in local stores, and unsolicited donations. The Friends are now starting an organized and concerted fundraising drive, with the hope of demonstrating to the Free Library and city administrations that this community is serious about saving our historic branch library. Our members will all receive a separate mailing about the library fund drive.

Cedar Point Park Neighborhood Association: A group of neighbors clustered near Cedar Point Park at 46th and Baltimore have long been opposing a zoning change and insensitive porch enclosure on the 4600 block of Cedar Avenue. This change has put a busy dental office in the middle of this residential block, along with a porch enclosure of glass block and brick siding. Their challenges have been remarkably successful, in part because they have an excellent attorney, but the fight continues. Arthur Haywood, the attorney, has been most understanding of their finances, and has continued to do what needs to be done on a promise of eventual payment. For this effort, please send checks made out to UCHS to the address of Theresa Sims, 4614 Cedar Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143.

To date, UCHS has donated the proceeds from two house tours to Calvary, totaling about $2600; we have given the Friends of Walnut West over $1,000.00 towards their building fund and have provided technical assistance on a number of building issues; and we have given another $1,000 to Cedar Point Park Neighbors to help defray their legal costs. No doubt there will be other issues needing our time, money, and support, and we know that we can count on our members to help out both now and in the future.

Treasure Sale: Save The Date!

By Kathy Dowdell, UCHS President

Saturday, April 15, 2000 is the date for our “members only” sale of items from the University City Historical Society collection of architectural artifacts from buildings no longer standing in University City. Over the past two years, our board has had exhaustive discussions about the future of this collection, and has come to the conclusion that the best future is to return the collection back to the community, in the form of a “members only” sale. This is the time to join UCHS! Most people receiving this newsletter are already members, but please tell your friends and neighbors about UCHS, and about this sale. For those of you not familiar with our collection, it consists of architectural elements – mantelpieces, balusters, brackets, tiles, register covers, stained glass door insets, glass shades for electric and gas lights, etc. – salvaged from houses slated for demolition in the late 60’s and through the 70’s. The sale represents an excellent opportunity to get that missing decorative heating grate, or replace those six tiles from the fireplace surround, or to add an over-mantel to the one pillaged from your house by a previous owner. Take measurements, bring cash or your checkbook, and add another piece of University City history to your home.

The sale will take place in our space on the second floor of the Firehouse Farmers Market at 50th and Baltimore Avenue on Saturday, April 15, 2000 from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm. First come, first served and you must take you purchases with you by the end of the sale. Items left at the end of the day will be purchased by a dealer for resale at undoubtedly higher prices, so this is your last chance to get a good price, and to know that the item you are buying came from a reliable source.

Many people have come to the board and expressed their regret that we cannot keep our collection permanently. UCHS is not ready to start a museum, nor did the board feel that having the collection sitting, unseen and unused, in a basement or attic served any good purpose. Although the collection does represent elements from buildings that have been demolished, and are not here anymore, our neighborhood is fortunate in that many of these elements are still found in the rich building stock that we still have. Certainly we will keep representative samples of everything, and we are keeping some of the more distinctive pieces, but our feeling is that the other items are, fortunately, common enough that it makes more sense that they be re-used in someone’s current home, where they can be appreciated every day. We know that our members will help us find good homes for the pieces in the collection. Our plan is that the money raised from this sale will go towards our new programs in restoration and historic preservation, which will benefit the entire neighborhood.

Preservation Honors

At this year’s delightful UCHS Pre-Valentine’s Tea Party, Tom Lussenhop, Managing Director of Real Estate, University of Pennsylvania; John McGarry, UCA Realty Group and Mark Hershhorn, New Horizons Housing, accepted the “Outstanding Preservation Award” for Webster Manor, 4224-4240 Osage Avenue. The founding generation of “The Friends of Calvary,” composed of Richard Y. Kirk, Melani Lamond, Nelson Wicas, John Holland and Rev. Paul Huebner received the year’s “Preservation Initiative Award.”

A special commendation recognized the rescue from needless and certain demolition and the complete restoration of 4620 Spruce Street, a large Victorian twin, reestablishing the intact streetscape of this historic block. Cited here were Lee Nunnery, Business Services and D-L Wormley; Office of Community Housing, University of Pennsylvania; The Reinvestment Fund (Sue Cassidy, Kevin Maguire); general contractor, Eamon Devlin and architect, Mike Horn.

Receiving letters of commendation in advance were those responsible for their “Gift to the Street,” of exterior preservation improvements to University City properties:

Eugene Block, Gang Zheng, Mark Sherman, John & Sue Parrot, Mariposa, Aron & Gina Katsenelinboigen, Nancy Stewart, Wayne Marquardt, University City District, Andrew & Cathy Wheeler, Milton & Lucille Rosenthal, James Dill, Anne & Sheldon Wedemeyer, Bridgitte Blanco, Jennifer & Stanley Suder, Mackenzie & John Wicks, Gail Lipman, Frederick Jackes, Dennis Aufiery & Carol Straeten, David Tilley, Michael Riccio, Drexel University, Sam & Sara Sackett, Robert & Mary Letsinger, Sylvia & Michael Brown, John & Coviello Cacciamani, Carl & Margaret Ostermann, UCA Realty Group, Marion Pond, Apartments@Penn, Thomas O’Neill, Jeff Abrahamson, Robert & Geraldine Giuntoli, Brian Yechyshen & Jacqueline McCrea, Michael & Lillis Dockray, Jon Stivers, Frank Innes, Jr., Jerome & Danielle Hunter, Bob Boccella & Harold Thomas, Ron Giemza & Mike Clark, Linda Stanley, Life Center Association, U of Penn, University City Housing, Michael Levin, Tawn Stokes, Catherine B. Wagner, James Murphy, Laurence McAllister, Carol Thomson & Michelle Steege, Mary DeJong, David Bell, Brian Salzberg, Frederick Brooks, Scott & Nan Steketee, David & Deborah Valentine, Andrew & Ernestine Stiller, Eddie Brady & Amy Johnson, John & Maryanne Valentino, Campus Apartments, Eli Massar, Kristen Rozansky, Bob & Claudia Christian, Arthur Johnson, III, Nancy Roth & Sigrid Larson, Gary Martin, Christopher & Angela Petersen, Dudley Bright, Mary Ellen Gardner, Charles Haub, Jr., Christina Bach, EWT Realty, Inc., Lindsay & Gail Johnson, Norman & Micheline Nilsen, Larry Gladney & Jackie Tanaka, Yvonne Williams, Steven Epstein & Eleanor King, Lohendra & Sadhana Shastri, Dorothy Berlind, George Ankrah, Elliot Stern & Christine Hibbard, Terence Oliva, Melvin & Phyllis Murray, Doris & Denis Cochran-Fikes, Rev. Paul Huebner, George & Jeanne Haugen, Joyce C. White, Beth Van Horn, Sandra McArthur & Manwell Green, Brian Spooner & Merrill Glickman, Ellie & Nick Cernansky, Roland Noreika & Steve Drabkowski.

Also commended by letter were those responsible for this year’s “Green Gift to the Street,” contributions of improvements to the green environment of our historic neighborhood, including Baltimore Avenue in Bloom, 3900 block of Baltimore Avenue, Warrington Community Garden, Florence Avenue Garden, Cedar Park Neighbors, Lea School Greening, UC Green, Powelton-Drexel Greening Project, Paul Robeson House Garden, UCD’s 40th Street landscaping, University Lutheran Church Garden, Garden Court Condominiums, The Pines Apartments, Sylvania Garden Apartments, Campus Apartments, UCA Realty Group, The Restaurant School, University City Housing, Apartments@Penn, Eugene Dempsey, God’s Rescue Mission, Jim & Sharon Smith, Annie Dandridge, Theresa Woodson, Linda Sudaris, Sharif Fawzy, Carol Fritz, Katherine Sherif & Colleen Veloski, Michael Albright & Patricia Munoz, Robert Zimmerman, Adam Zeff & Cheryl Bettigole, 4500 block Larchwood Avenue, Alvina Klass, Andrew Little, Davis & Earnestine Chapman, Kerry Haynie, Rebecca & Doug Witmer, Michael & Sylvia Brown, Bob Cordera & Ron Elum, Sylvia Egnal, Bob Prischak & Bradd Levine, Dennis & Anthony Ritondo, Giesela & Heiner Moehren, Michelle Murphy, Kristen Rozansky, Lilia Labik, Eva Christensen, Marigold Dining Room, Kevin & Patricia Wallace, Nancy & Scott Coryk, Dorothea Isaacsonn, Lars Ericsson, David Kern, Marina Stamos, Adonna Mackley, Vivianne & Jack Nachmias, Edda & Michael Katz, Frances & Robert Kohler. To all our thanks and keep it up! You all will be receiving a complementary membership in UCHS until September, 2000, when we invite you to become a regular UCHS member.

It's Just A Different Style Hat,
Not A New Hat...

By Diane-Louise (D-L) Wormley
UCHS Board Member & Director,
Neighborhood Rehabilitation Initiatives, UCD

Several neighbors have commented on how my new job at the UCD (University City District) and my new role on the UCHS Board go so well together. I think of it as having the unusual opportunity of having my personal interests and my professional life merge. In my work at the UCD, I work with three primary stakeholders in our community – homeowners, housing providers (landlords) and business owners. In all instances, I am working to identify their needs and link them to resources that focus on improving our physical environment. This includes how we improve the repair, maintenance and preservation of our properties; how we strengthen the small businesses so they can, in turn, improve the physical appearance of their businesses through fašade improvement; and how we encourage those with rental properties to clean up, spruce up and preserve their holdings.

One aspect of my efforts at the UCD (and as a member of the Outreach and Historic Streetscapes Committees for UCHS) is to develop a workshop series in conjunction with UCHS, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, and the Office of Community Housing at Penn. Your response by completing and returning the enclosed survey to me by April 14th will help us build the workshop series based on your needs and interests. Thanks for responding.

Living In The Livable Past

By Joanne Aitken, AIA
Associate, Dagit Saylor Architects
& UCHS member

The American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia Chapter, has named Woodland Terrace as co-winner of this year’s Landmark Building Award. It is being honored as a significant example of the work of Samuel Sloan, whom the AIA considers to be an under-appreciated 19th century Philadelphia architect. Woodland Terrace is sharing the award with the Carl Mackley Homes, a landmark 1930’s housing development recently renovated in Northeast Philadelphia.

To fill you in a little more about the AIA’s reasoning - I was on the committee that decided (and am also a University City resident) - we chose the two projects as examples of “livable communities” in an urban setting. AIA will be having its National Convention here in May with about 20,000 architects visiting the city. Our theme concerns livable communities for America’s future but the strong urban bias of the Philadelphia AIA Chapter is to promote cities as livable communities. We feel that the Mackley housing is a good example of middle class worker housing from the 30’s (it was the first WPA housing project in the country and has recently been renovated for contemporary needs following the Secretary of Interior’s rules for historic properties).

It was the strong feeling of those present that Woodland Terrace - architectural merit aside - is a superlative example of a livable urban community AND it could easily appeal to those who might otherwise live in the suburbs - big houses with character, green space, privacy, efficient land use, public transit, place to park a car, walkable neighborhood, real community. The Preservation Alliance, which was also represented on the award committee, thinks our neighborhood is exactly the kind of place that could draw suburbanites back into the city. We, as a neighborhood, should consider how we can join in this type of promotion.

Spring Tour

Dr. Paul F. Walson will lead a one hour tour of the interior of St. Agatha-St. James Roman Catholic Church, 38th and Chestnut Streets, on Sunday, April 2, 2000 beginning at 12:30 p.m. The public is invited to join him in “Touring a Church: Space, Images, Spirit” as he examines this Victorian church, by Edwin Durang, constructed between 1881 and 1887, paying attention to its array of images in stone, paint and glass and how it functions as a church.

Coming Next Time

  • The winners of the “Hide the Trash Cans” contest

  • Where to find restoration resources.

go to current issue of On The West Side

go to list of back issues of On The West Side

back to University City Historical Society Homepage