MAY 1998



By Sylvia Barkan

We are trendy! If the national passion is Victorian houses, we have them, from the pristine to the re-habbed. Looking for Art Deco? It's here, along with every style in between.

In arranging this tour, we worked with another happy local trend - part of a national interest - pools. Not the kind one swims in, but garden reflecting pools with bubbling fountains. Add that to the meteoric rise of interest in gardening and it was easy to put together this year's University City Historical Society Tour of "Houses and Gardens of University City." We even got to include a real indoor swimming pool in the Art Deco Style, one, it is rumored, based on the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. I can't vouch for it; you need to decide.

In all, you will see some spectacular houses and gardens in Spruce Hill, Garden Court, Cedar Park and Squirrel Hill, plus some equally dramatic 1920's apartments and get to ride in the van of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees if your feet get tired. You pick up your ticket, including a map and personalized house descriptions, at the University City Arts League, 4226 Spruce Street, at 1 p.m. and off you go on a four-hour self-guided voyage of delight. You will encounter former homes of movie stars and famous anthropologists and criminologists. This is, after all, University City.

There is a free parking lot across the street from the Arts League if you drive to the neighborhood or, better yet, come by trolley or bus. We have some great public transportation in the area! The tour ends with seasonal refreshments at The Gables, our elegant neighborhood bed and breakfast inn.

And, don't forget to return to the Arts League to view the art work of Sylvia Hamerman-Brown in a joint show with that of her father, renowned landscape architect, Conrad Hamerman. Their exhibit will be up from May 8 to June 5; don't miss it.

The tickets are $20/person, either ordered in advance from Philadelphia Open House, 313 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 at (215) 928-1188 or available at the same price at the door of the Arts League from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on the day of the tour.

Dues-paying members of UCHS, however, may purchase tickets for $15/person if they get in both their orders and payments to UCHS, P. O. Box 31927, Philadelphia, PA 19104 no later than Thursday, May 14, 1998. Just send us your name, address, the number of tickets requested and a check made to "UCHS." Your tickets will be waiting for you at the Arts League.

This is a great opportunity to encourage your friends to become members of UCHS and take advantage of the discount. They should get both their checks for membership dues for 1998 of $20/household and $15/ticket, plus their names, address and phone number, to UCHS at the address above as soon as possible. Questions? Call (215) 387-3019.



for going on the May 17 house and garden tour is available to those who volunteer to serve as hosts and hostesses for the event. If you are interested in sitting in and greeting visitors at one of the beautiful tour sites for two hours during the 1 to 5 p.m. tour, you will receive a free ticket to tour the same houses and gardens for the remaining two hours. Both UCHS members and others are eligible, call UCHS Board Member Ellie Cernansky at (215) 724-1368 to sign up.


will also be underway on Sunday, May 17 from 2 p.m. into the evening at Dahlak Restaurant, 4708 Baltimore Avenue. Sponsored by Philadelphia On the West Side, The University City District and UCA Realty, to benefit Baltimore Avenue in Bloom: An Urban Botanical Trail in its efforts to beautify Baltimore Avenue, it celebrates Ethiopia's most influencial contribution to the world's cuisine, the introduction of coffee! For one to two hours, experience the first open Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony in Philadelphia with the smells, tastes, and sights of this beautiful cultural tradition. The restaurant will feature authentic live Ethiopian music, wonderful food, incense and informative demonstrations to introduce guests to the preparation, serving and delights of Ethiopian coffee, the source of all coffee production around the world. Call (215) 726-6464 for further information and reservations.

The ceremony marks a first for Philadelphia, the site of the first coffee house in America, and a perfect ending for the day's enjoyment of the delights of University City's special blend of history, botany and special people.


has been sounded recently in the Philadelphia press to the widespread theft of pieces of the historic features and architectural decorations in the most historically distinctive areas of the city. Like Society Hill, Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, University City has been the scene of thieves making off with iron gratings, fencing, ornate doorknobs, ceramic planters and even, in some cases, interior mantels and decorative glass. The loss of these irreplaceable architectural artifacts has been brought to the attention of the local police and security personnel, but owners need to consider additional means of securing and documenting these items. Making exterior doorknob set screws inoperative, photographing, marking items with an engraving tool and additional security installations to protect exterior ironwork are possible strategies to confront the problem. Check Close@Hand, the electronic version of the local directory of goods and services in University City, for ironworkers and craftspeople who might be helpful here.


comes from a group of UCHS Board Members working on developing the topics for a web site for the society on the internet. This would provide information, not only on the society, its officers and current board members, membership and contact information, a calendar of events, but also a broad range of topics in the history of University City and West Philadelphia.

So far, some of the topics suggested and under development are: "The Civil War in West Philadelphia, University City Historic Districts, The Botanical Heritage of the Lower Schuylkill, Mill Creek, The Streetcars of West Philadelphia, The Churches of West Philadelphia, Philadelphia General Hospital, Historical Markers, and "A West Philadelphia Treasury" reproducing area "icons," like Clark Park's Dickens and Little Nell.

It is planned also that the site will be "interactive," encouraging visitors to leave questions, comments and additional contributions, including personal recollections to "add to the record."

The site developers are asking for suggestions for other interesting and appropriate topics and individuals who might wish to try their hand at developing them, both in finding or developing the text and/or the graphic materials to illustrate them.

If you would like to help, or have ideas, please e-mail us or contact us at (215) 387-3019 and leave us a message. We welcome you to this effort to make the past "come alive" in University City.

To inform you of the latest developments in the Schuylkill Botanic Trail Project, we are here reproducing their latest newsletter.

Franklinia plant

Botanic Trail Project
Historic Bartram's Garden
54th St. & Lindbergh Blvd.

Philadelphia, PA I9143

215-729-3880 Fax: 215-729-1047

Spring 1998

What Is The Botanic Trail?
The BOTANIC TRAIL is a 2.5-mile pedestrian and biking greenway to be created along the lower Schuylkill River from 30th St. Station to Historic Bartram's Garden. It will become part of the 110-mile Schuvlkill River Trail. which extends from Philadelphia to Pottsville. The Botanic Trail Project is headquartered at Historic Bartram's Garden and is supported by the William Penn Foundation as part of its Schuylkill River Initiative.

Progress On The Botanic Trail

The Botanic Trail project team has completed Phase One of the project and begun Phase Two with renewed funding from the William Penn Foundation.

Phase One was devoted to identifying possible trail alignments promoting the project to the general public through trail walks and publicity, generating institutional support, and initiating contact with property owners

Botanic Trail Coordinator Stephen Hammell also put together a slide presentation about the Botanic Trail, Schuylkill River Park, West Bank Greenway and the Water Works Restoration. "Greening the Lower Schuylkill" has been showing at the Ritz Five and the Ritz at the Bourse Cinemas. You can still catch this slide show before the movies at the Ritz theaters.

If your organization would like to see the slide lecture, please call Hammell at 215-875-0446 or 729-3880.

During Phase Two, the Botanic Trail team will meet with property owners along the proposed trail to obtain letters of intent for easement or sale of right of way. The team will also develop design and construction cost estimates, apply for federal ISTEA and other grants to help finance the project and seek maintenance commitments for the Botanic Trail.

Thank you to the following organizations which have provided letters of support for the Botanic Trail:

  • American Youth Hostels
  • Arts West
  • Baltimore Avenue in Bloom
  • Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Cedar Park Neighbors
  • Drexel University: Office of the President
  • Eighteenth Police District Advisory Council
  • Ethiopian Community Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Fairmount Park Commission
  • Fort Mifflin on the Delaware
  • Fortieth Street Area Business Association
  • Friends of Clark Park
  • Friends of the West Bank Greenway
  • Friends of Walnut West Library
  • Garden Court Community Association
  • Girls Scouts of Southeast Pennsylvania
  • Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • National Park Service
  • Office of Congressman John Fox
  • Philadelphia City Council
  • Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science
  • Philadelphia Department of Commerce
  • Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation
  • Philadelphia On the West Side
  • Powelton Village Civic Association
  • Southwest Community Enrichment Center
  • Spruce Hill Community Association
  • Squirrel Hill Community Association
  • Squirrel Hill Police Sub Station
  • University City Arts League
  • University City Community Council
  • University City Historical Society
  • University City Promotions Group
  • University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
  • University of Pennsylvania: Office of the President
  • Walnut Hill Community Association
  • West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
  • West Philadelphia Partnership Town Watch Network
  • West Philadelphia Partnership.

Botanic Trail Events -- Be There!

Saturday, June 6 -- Walk through historic West Philadelphia, seeing Penn Campus, Baltimore Avenue in Bloom, Woodlands Cemetery and Clark Park, ending up at Historic Bartram's Garden. Assemble at White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., at 9 a.m.; return by trolley for lunch/lecture at the White Dog by Robert Hanna, Penn Professor of Landscape Architecture. Call Sue Ellen Klein, 386-9224, for reservations.

$20 includes trolley and lunch.

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