Germantown Historical Society, Philadelphia

Germantown Historical Society, Philadelphia Germantown Historical Society is an educational & research center dedicated to preserving & interpre
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Funding for our organization is supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Interior of Schramm's Grocery Store at 337 West Queen Lane. J. Christian Schramm is visible at the left, and his brother...
08/15/2023

Interior of Schramm's Grocery Store at 337 West Queen Lane.
J. Christian Schramm is visible at the left, and his brother John is in the back, behind the counter. An unknown woman stands in the aisle. The store apparently closed in August 1964, according to notes on the back of the photo. This photo provides an excellent glimpse into the stock held by a turn-of-the 20th century grocery store.
[Herring, mackerel, sausage scrapple and "oleomargarine" to name a few!]

Search the online collection for more historic images: https://www.germantownhistory.org/online.htm

Happy International Cat Day! Shown here is a photograph taken for publication in the Chestnut Hill Local in the early 19...
08/08/2023

Happy International Cat Day!

Shown here is a photograph taken for publication in the Chestnut Hill Local in the early 1990s, accompanied by the following caption: “Presenting A Cat to Catherine Campbell, a resident of the Nevil Home for the Deaf and Blind, Elwyn, are youngsters from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Germantown: (l. to r.) Kevin Ferrell, Ebony Golden, Sonia Santiago. Eight and nine year olds from PSD have been visiting the 38 Nevil residents during the past year and developed a wonderful relationship with them.”

From our friends at the Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel - a piece of Germantown history!
08/04/2023

From our friends at the Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel - a piece of Germantown history!

Shopping, anyone?
Gift Box from Allen's Department Store. Covered in beige, lightly line-textured paper with line images of historic buildings of Germantown interspersed with the store name logo "Allen's" - the Germantown store was located at Chelten Avenue and Greene Street. It opened in 1927 and closed in 1979.

Buildings: Germantown Friends Meeting, Grumblethorpe, Stenton, Ottinger House, Germantown Academy, Christopher Sauer House

[Some of the sites featured on the box are open for tours in Historic Germantown!]

Here is what the corner of Germantown and Chelten avenues looked like, in 1921. The view is down Germantown Avenue from ...
07/26/2023

Here is what the corner of Germantown and Chelten avenues looked like, in 1921. The view is down Germantown Avenue from Chelten. The imposing bank building partially visible at the far left was the site of Walgreen’s Pharmacy; for years the site was the home of Rowell’s department store.
(Plus contemporary views circa 2015 and Google Street View)

Cows! 🐮 In the Old German Township! Circa 1894 photograph taken of cows lounging about at the Hartwell Farm in Chestnut ...
07/14/2023

Cows! 🐮 In the Old German Township!
Circa 1894 photograph taken of cows lounging about at the Hartwell Farm in Chestnut Hill. The exact perspective of the view shown in this photograph is unclear, but the golf course of the St. Martin’s Cricket Club would be built at about this time in the open space to the right. For years, A. Hergesheimer operated his Golf View Dairy at this farm. The barn still stands; it was later converted to a residence at 601 West Hartwell Lane.

This photograph taken around 1900 of the remains of Wissahickon Avenue/ Township Line Road north of Allen's Lane, shows ...
07/06/2023

This photograph taken around 1900 of the remains of Wissahickon Avenue/ Township Line Road north of Allen's Lane, shows a small trail in the middle of the old right of way beckoning one forward. The exact perspective shown in the photo is unclear; it could be towards Allen's Lane, with Cresheim Creeek behind the photographer, or from Allen's Lane, back towards Cresheim Creek. A stone wall built from Wissahickon Schist at is visible at the left, and a wood fence at right.


Search more images from the collection:
https://germantownhistory.catalogaccess.com/

This 1913 photograph shows a milk depot of Abbott’s Dairies, located at 16-22 West School House Lane (now the approximat...
01/13/2023

This 1913 photograph shows a milk depot of Abbott’s Dairies, located at 16-22 West School House Lane (now the approximate location behind the Wells Fargo Bank on Germantown Avenue). This depot was just one of many Abbott’s had all over the City.

Hansell’s Dairies was the largest local dairy. It had offices and a plant at 5758 Keyser Street. There was also Paramore Farms, a long-since demolished farm within present-day Awbury Arboretum that was one of the earlier dairies selling and distributing milk in glass bottles around the turn of the 20th century.

This picturesque photo is included in one of local historian Edwin C. Jellett’s “Wissahickon Anthology” scrapbooks, as w...
01/07/2023

This picturesque photo is included in one of local historian Edwin C. Jellett’s “Wissahickon Anthology” scrapbooks, as was captured by photographer John Redles in 1906. The view was taken along present-day Lincoln Drive just a bit north of the bridge of the former Reading Railroad’s branch to Norristown spanning the Wissahickon Creek. At the far left are the relatively newly-installed “Hundred Steps” leading up to Freeland Avenue, with houses on Retta Street faintly visible at right center. Note what appears to be a newly-installed fence along the pedestrian path crossing the photograph. Well maintained paths, streets, and associated features were typical of those found in Fairmount Park in the early 20th century. This scene remains relatively similar today, with the greatest exception being that the house in the center of the photograph has long since been demolished.

To see other images of Jellett’s photographs he took all over the Wissahickon and Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill as well as images of scrapbook pages from his many scrapbooks, visit here: www.germantownhistory.org

12/30/2022
Isn't it a good time for chocolate? How about some historic chocolate? Asher’s Candies, formerly at 5537 Germantown Aven...
12/20/2022

Isn't it a good time for chocolate? How about some historic chocolate?
Asher’s Candies, formerly at 5537 Germantown Avenue. Founded in 1892 by Chester A. Asher, the confectioner moved to Germantown in the early 1900s, where it remained until relocating to Souderton, Montgomery County, in 1998. Shown here are some of the employees of the store, with owner Jack Asher (in baseball cap) just before the store relocated.

With the arrival of the first day of Hanukkah, it’s a perfect day to post a photograph of a Hanukkah past. Shown here is...
12/18/2022

With the arrival of the first day of Hanukkah, it’s a perfect day to post a photograph of a Hanukkah past. Shown here is a photo published in the December 10, 1987 issue of the Chestnut Hill Local. When published, it included the caption “Preparing for the Germantown Jewish Center’s Hanukkah bazaar on Sunday, December 13, are (from left to right) Missy Danner, Sarah Friedman, Sarah Fenster, Hannah Fenster and Dana Bazelon. The bazaar will be staged at the Jewish Centre, Lincoln Drive and Ellet St., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.” Happy Hanukkah!

The photo shown here and thousands of others are available online at
https://germantownhistory.catalogaccess.com/

♥️⭐🎉
12/10/2022

♥️⭐🎉

🎄❄️💚Our next contributor for our holiday contributor posts is Alex Bartlett from Historic Germantown! Alex is a librarian, historian, and archivist. Alex is a self-described “history nerd,” with interests in archeology and old bottles and glassware. He said that growing up in Germantown is what initially stimulated his enthusiasm toward historical documents and objects

From Alex - “Greetings from my front steps in Ewing, NJ (after putting up this year’s decorations).”

We are so thankful to have Alex on our team to write up his many interesting and well researched historical articles about Philadelphia and notable Philadelphians. Keep an eye out in the new year for more!!! 📖🥂✨❤️

Happy St. Nicholas Day! Celebrated each year on December 6, in honor of the third-century saint, who some credit as the ...
12/06/2022

Happy St. Nicholas Day!
Celebrated each year on December 6, in honor of the third-century saint, who some credit as the inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus. Shown here is a Belsnickel held in the collections of the Germantown Historical Society- a Pennsylvania Dutch doll from the mid-19th century- which celebrates the traditions of Santa Claus and “St. Nick.” Notice the tin miniatures he is bearing- perfect gifts for young children!

  A piece of historical Germantown ephemera related to John Trower (African American entrepreneur, caterer, investor, an...
12/01/2022

A piece of historical Germantown ephemera related to John Trower (African American entrepreneur, caterer, investor, and philanthropist) from the collection of the Germantown Historical Society.

Written 142 years ago today (December 1, 1880), this receipt was signed by John Trower to H. Burgen for chicken salad, fried oysters and raw oysters with a total of $12.00.

Thank You!
11/30/2022

Thank You!

11/30/2022
11/30/2022

To Donate: https://bit.ly/3HceTf5

We are 3/4 of the way to our GOAL. Please consider a donation in helping us reach our GOAL. Thank you for your support.

From 'A Souvenir of Germantown'
"Members of the cast of "Sleeping Beauty" produced during 1913 by The Germantown Education Association which was organized in 1910 purposely to encourage co-operation among our High and Other School Graduates."

11/29/2022

To Donate: https://bit.ly/3HceTf5

Reading Buildings Like Documents with Joy Huntington:
An interview with ACLS Leading Edge Fellow Joy Huntington, appointed to Historic Germantown for the project "Decolonizing Historic Germantown: Re-Framing Sites, Collections, Landscapes, and Museums," a collaboration with PPEH. Huntington speaks to Mia D'Avanza about her research into Germantown's early 20th century history as a site of Black businesses and culture using 1913's "A Souvenir of Germantown" booklet.

[From Penn Arts & Sciences/ Penn Program in Environmental Humanities] Read the full Interview Here: https://bit.ly/3EMymjl

11/29/2022

To Donate: https://bit.ly/3HceTf5

From 'A Souvenir of Germantown'
"Thomas E. Meehan Public School. Pulaski, Penn and Newhall Streets. About 35 years old, exact year not known. Present building erected 1901, and named in honor of Thos. Meehan, a Sectional School Director who labored hard for this school."

Info from the National Register of Historic Places for the nomination of this historic building:
"This is one of the schools designed during the early twentieth century during the interim period between the resignation of Joseph W. Anschutz and hiring of H. deCourcy Richards as Chief Designer of schools. The one man who assumed many of the design burdens was Lloyd Titus, who employed the stone Colonial Revival appearances espoused by his predecessor, Anschutz. This building, a small structure in the heart of Southwest Germantown, is a small school designed to alleviate overcrowding from a neighboring school, the Daniel L. Keyser School, and therefore only had four classrooms. It stands as one of the few buildings designed with a central front entrance." (Written circa 1987)

Now home to the Pentecostal Faith Assembly Church

"A Souvenir of Germantown" is a publication in the archives of the Germantown Historical Society!
11/29/2022

"A Souvenir of Germantown" is a publication in the archives of the Germantown Historical Society!

Check out the latest newsletter from Historic Germantown - it highlights a recent gift to the collection of the Germanto...
11/18/2022

Check out the latest newsletter from Historic Germantown - it highlights a recent gift to the collection of the Germantown Historical Society!

Events & Info You Don't Want to Miss!   Snow Fall on Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion (circa 2012)   Historic Germantown   End of the Year | 2022 As we enter the end of 2022 and the holiday season, what are w

  This was the old Wingohocking Creek in East Germantown. Until the mid-19th century, the creek supplied power to many m...
11/17/2022

This was the old Wingohocking Creek in East Germantown. Until the mid-19th century, the creek supplied power to many mills located along its banks, including the Fisher’s mill complex, a part of which is shown here as it appeared around 1880. However, as the century progressed, portions of the creek were relocated into the city’s sewer system, much of it existing under present-day Belfield Avenue. By around 1910, almost the entire creek had been diverted into sewer lines and today, only a small, spring-fed branch of it exists above ground, along the south side of Washington Lane in Awbury Arboretum. As for the Fisher’s mills, they stood in the approximate location of the intersection of East Logan Street and Belfield Avenue.

View More Images at:
https://germantownhistory.catalogaccess.com/

Check out Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground in this vintage photo from GHS!
09/13/2022

Check out Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground in this vintage photo from GHS!

"In honor of the arrival of the new school year, it is a great time to reflect on the history of some of the schools in ...
09/04/2022

"In honor of the arrival of the new school year, it is a great time to reflect on the history of some of the schools in our area, many of which have survived for generations. We do so with this photo montage showing some of the schools, and highlighting their connections to our history and community."

Looking back on Germantown's long tradition of learning

Shown here is a page from one of the scrapbooks in the collections of the Germantown Historical Society showing the The ...
08/24/2022

Shown here is a page from one of the scrapbooks in the collections of the Germantown Historical Society showing the The Hood Cemetery also known as the Lower Burial Ground, at 4901 Germantown Avenue. The photographs show the Cemetery as it appeared around 1900. Forty-one Revolutionary War soldiers are buried here, as well as those from the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The iconic stone entrance to the Hood Cemetery was donated by William Hood in 1847. He is buried in the Cemetery, and it bears his name in honor of his donation.

07/29/2022

Nominations are Open for the 2023 Hall of Fame - We are in the planning stages for 2023 and are seeking nominations for new inductees.

The Hall of Fame celebrates the achievements of individuals who have contributed to the rich cultural history and community of our beloved "Old German Township" (Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill). Our honorees embody the extraordinary skills and talents that significantly contribute to the civic, educational, and artistic fabric of our community.

Please consider nominating someone today!
Deadline for Submission 9/1/2022
Click on the link to make your nomination: https://bit.ly/3Sc4ra7

07/02/2022

"Busting Blockbusting" - German Township history article from the Archivist/Librarian at the Germantown Historical Society, Philadelphia in the The Local

Read the Article Here: https://nwlocalpaper.com/busting-blockbusting

06/07/2022

Hall of Fame Auction Highlight: Private Dinner for Nine at "Springbank"
Enjoy a catered dinner for nine guests in the dining room of "Springbank" - a remarkable house in what is now Mount Airy with a colorful history of phases of construction and ownership. The original house dates back to circa 1730 and was expanded upon over the years, including by architect Frank Furness circa 1880.
Learn more and BID at the Hall of Fame! Get your Tickets - https://bit.ly/3NsdSzH

Photo: Germantown Historical Society, Philadelphia

110 years ago on April 15, 1912 the RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner operated by the White Star Line, sank in the ...
04/15/2022

110 years ago on April 15, 1912 the RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner operated by the White Star Line, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK, to New York City.

A number of Philadelphians lost their lives that day, but some survived, including a wealthy woman from Germantown.

"Charlotte Cardeza filed the single largest claim for loss of property against the White Star Line...she eventually received $8,750..."

You can read about her background as well as see a listing of the items that she filed a claim for from the White Star Line (published Spring 1998). https://bit.ly/3xCCbWi

And for more on the Titanic and Charlotte with photos of their original suites and other places on the ship, check out this article from the NW Local from 2021: https://bit.ly/3JJ0p3B

We hope you will join us!https://bit.ly/3vp8l6Q
02/28/2022

We hope you will join us!
https://bit.ly/3vp8l6Q

How has class, race & space intersected with political economy in urban education to create unequally resourced schools within one district

When the houses of Pelham were built in the 1890s, one feature of the houses is that they received steam heat from a ste...
02/04/2022

When the houses of Pelham were built in the 1890s, one feature of the houses is that they received steam heat from a steam plant, which was located on the south side of Hortter Street between Pelham Road and the railroad tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s line to Chestnut Hill- now SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West line. Shown is the interior of the plant as it appeared around the turn of the 20th century. It is unclear how long the plant remained in operation; by the 1970s, it was in a state of ruin. The lot of the old steam plant was subdivided in the mid-1980s, and houses at 350-362 West Hortter Street were then built there.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

Given the snowfall we received last weekend, it seems appropriate to show a snowy scene from the past. Shown is the “Spa...
01/31/2022

Given the snowfall we received last weekend, it seems appropriate to show a snowy scene from the past. Shown is the “Sparrow Jack” house at the northwest corner of Germantown Avenue and Upsal Street as it appeared in the late 19th century. Though the photograph is undated, it may have been taken of the aftermath of the Blizzard of 1888, as the lack of trolley wires in the photo- which were installed in the mid-1890s- suggests the photo was taken before then.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

This rather cold and desolate view of the “other” Walnut Lane Bridge- that spanning the Monoshone Creek/ Paper Mill Run ...
01/24/2022

This rather cold and desolate view of the “other” Walnut Lane Bridge- that spanning the Monoshone Creek/ Paper Mill Run and Lincoln Drive- captures the essence of this time of year perfectly. The date of construction of this bridge is unclear, but it was likely built by around 1880. However, by the arrival of the Great Depression, the bridge had been allowed to decay unchecked for years, and it became clear that a new bridge was in order. However, the Depression had drained the City of its financial resources, and the bridge remained closed for approximately 15 years before a new one was opened to traffic in 1951. Unfortunately, the superstructure quickly started to show signs of failure, and a new one was built in 1990. This photograph facing north on Lincoln Drive taken by local historian Edwin C. Jellett shows the old Walnut Lane Bridge as it appeared circa 1910.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

There is nothing like a pop of color to ring in the New Year! This detail shot was taken in 1989, of a 1956 Pontiac conv...
01/03/2022

There is nothing like a pop of color to ring in the New Year! This detail shot was taken in 1989, of a 1956 Pontiac convertible on display- complete with burger, side of fries, and 16-ounce Coke- at the Germantown Lions Club’s antique auto show and flea market, held at what was then the Philadelphia College of Textiles, now a part of Jefferson University.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

This photograph taken around 1985 of 4300 Germantown Avenue is one of a series of photographs taken in association with ...
12/31/2021

This photograph taken around 1985 of 4300 Germantown Avenue is one of a series of photographs taken in association with a Philadelphia Redevelopment Corporation project, and includes photos of buildings slated for rehabilitation along Germantown Avenue in Nicetown. For comparison, a recent photo obtained from Google Street Views is also included. The building is now the home of the Nicetown Community Development Corporation. Note that the back portion has been removed, presumably during renovation.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

Just around the corner from the Bruner Livery Stable (featured in last week’s Throwback Thursday post) was George Weiss’...
12/27/2021

Just around the corner from the Bruner Livery Stable (featured in last week’s Throwback Thursday post) was George Weiss’ coal office and yard, shown as it and the surrounding buildings appeared around the turn of the 20th century at the approximate location of 5715 Germantown Avenue. The photograph illustrates the high value of real estate along and in proximity to Germantown Avenue. As Germantown Avenue underwent a period of intense (re)development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, gaps between earlier houses were often filled in with commercial development. However, creating a solid wall of buildings would run the risk of cutting off access to rear portions of properties- those behind the stores on Germantown Avenue. Weiss- or a previous owner- used the solution of keeping an open alley to the rear of his property for access, while simultaneously building a second story over the alley.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

Though undated (and reversed!), this view taken from a daguerreotype shows the Bruner Livery Stable on the unit block of...
12/24/2021

Though undated (and reversed!), this view taken from a daguerreotype shows the Bruner Livery Stable on the unit block of East Price Street. According to Philadelphia city directories of the 1860s, Henry Bruner had his hotel right around the corner, on Germantown Avenue, and lived a couple blocks down Price Street, at number 207 (renumbered 316 in the mid-1890s). The signage visible on the building includes a directional sign (visible on the wall, to the left of “STABLE”) for Germantown Avenue, and “TEMPERANCE… GERMANTOWN” and “RALLY FOR OUR COUNTRY” on the picket fence visible immediately above the carriage, the latter perhaps being in association with the Civil War.

The photograph shown here and thousands of others are available online at https://germantown.pastperfectonline.com/ It’s a great way to spend some time reliving Germantown memories at home!

Address

5501 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA
19144

Opening Hours

Tuesday 9am - 1pm
Thursday 1pm - 5pm

Telephone

(215) 844-1683

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