William Penn Grant to Help Chestnut Hill Preserve What’s Special About It

Wissahickon Valley | By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA (Wissahickon Valley, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wissahickon Valley | Photo by InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With a new name and fiftieth anniversary to celebrate, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy (CH Conservancy) is having quite the new year.

And now, the CH Conservancy has even more to be happy about: the center just received funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Watershed Protection program for its joint project with the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA).

The grant will support CH Conservancy and CHCA in their “Residential Conservation, Preservation and Development Study,” which aims to determine issues and priorities for preserving privately owned residential property and open space in the Chestnut Hill community, particularly the Wissahickon watershed.

“The watershed is really beautiful, but it’s also not a healthy strain with the development we have now,” says CH Conservancy executive director Lori Salganicoff“There is a great deal of new development that is possible within the watershed, and in order to protect its health, we are seeking to moderate the amount of new construction.”

According to Salganicoff, there is a lot of interest in the Chestnut Hill area as a whole because it has remained relatively free of development thus far.

“Chestnut Hill is a part of Philadelphia that is unique in its architectural integrity and its integration of open space with this architecture,” Salganicoff says. “The development that has happened here over time has been about thoughtful architecture integrated with green space. The work that we’re doing is to help understand what is significant architecturally and from the perspective of the Wissahickon watershed. We want to protect that and help manage change.”

CH Conservancy and CHCA hope that this study will allow for a community-wide conversation about what residential issues exist in Chestnut Hill, and which of these issues should be prioritized most.

The study is currently underway and will continue through May. It is being headed by a Steering Committee made up of volunteers chosen by CHCA.

CH Conservancy and CHCA are not alone in their venture, either. They have assistance from the Natural Lands Trust, Philadelphia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Friends of Wissahickon.

Salganicoff hopes to identify private properties that are currently unprotected from developers.

“The grant is meant to help us protect privately owned space,” she says. “Rather than have our organization run after people who don’t do what we think is ‘the right thing,’ we want to help shape what is significant and character-defining here, protect it, and help create tools around managing future development.”

On April 21, CH Conservancy will hold “Visionaries’ Roundtable: Preservation & Change in Chestnut Hill,” a public program where some of the project’s results will be revealed. On May 11, the Steering Committee will have its final meeting.

This collaborative study is happening prior to and in preparation for the Upper Northwest District Plan, a part of the Philadelphia2035 development plan set to begin in the fall of 2017 affecting Chestnut Hill, Germantown, East Germantown, Blue Bell Hill, West Mount Airy and East Mount Airy.

“We want to understand what we have here and what we value, so we can begin to educate the community about what is vulnerable before this city-led public planning process happens,” Salganicoff says. 

Only time will tell how this project will benefit the Chestnut Hill community.

Jawdropper of the Week: New Old Money in Chestnut Hill for $1.945M

3 Valley View Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

3 Valley View Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

Trompe l’oeil is a French term for an artistic practice that makes the viewer think she is looking at one thing when she’s actually seeing something else altogether. (The literal English translation is “fool the eye.”)

This week’s Jawdropper is a trompe l’oeil masterpiece that looks like an old Main Line chateau but is actually a very modern home in Chestnut Hill. Read more »

Live Large On Top of The Hill for $1.275M

1 W. Hartwell Ln., #4G, Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | Images from The Sivel Group

1 W. Hartwell Ln., #4G, Philadelphia, Pa. 19118 | Images from The Sivel Group

Chestnut Hill’s One West condo is a double first for the elevated Philadelphia neighborhood: The first new residential construction on Germantown Avenue and its first new mixed-use project in 30 years.

“Living over the store” has never looked as elegant as this, though. This two-bedroom, three-bath condo combines the latest features and a modern layout with neotraditional design in a single package that’s sure to delight you, your friends and your family.

In addition to an open-plan living/dining room and kitchen, this unit features a nicely outfitted master suite, a huge 346-square-foot terrace accessed via French doors from the living room, and a guest bedroom with its own en suite bath and terrace access. Read more »

Inside the Increasingly Rough-and-Tumble Philadelphia Quidditch Scene

Photo | Isabella Gong Photography

Photo | Isabella Gong Photography

They hurtle toward each other, six per team, cleats sloshing with mean vigor on the ground still wet from the morning sprinklers. The quickest, most audacious head toward midfield where an under-inflated volleyball and three dodgeballs await. They jostle violently for the balls but only with one hand. The other must always – always – hold on to the broom.

Unfortunately, magic broomsticks do not exist on earth. So they carry three-foot-long PVC pipes between their legs instead, one hand latched with the desperate clasp of a bull rider.

A few minutes before the match began, a small swarm of dragonflies circled this field on 31st and Chestnut next to the train tracks. But in the minds of the athletes playing competitive Quidditch on this warm afternoon in July, they may as well be flying too. Dodgeballs are now caroming off people so hard that spectators wince from the sidelines. Hit in the face? No matter. Get off your broom and touch your goalposts. Play on. If you have the volleyball, you sprint toward your opponent’s three plastic hula hoops, spinning, juking, jumping, passing. Avoiding tackles and dodgeballs, all with one simple goal: shoot that volleyball through the hoop. A few minutes in, the red team scores. Seconds later, an agile speedster wearing a baby blue North Carolina jersey and a white headband takes the volleyball and runs the length of the field. He weaves through a sea of red, a cheetah with tunnel vision, now only 20 feet away from goal. He’s unstoppable. Until he crashes into the meaty outstretched arm of a red player and crumples to the ground.

“Brooms down!” The whistle of the referee fills the summer air. PVC pipes drop.  Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A More Stately Manor in Lafayette Hill

741 Thomas Rd., Lafayette Hill, Pa. 19118 | Photos by Herb Engelsberg via The Sivel Group

731 Thomas Rd., Lafayette Hill, Pa. 19118 | Photos by Herb Engelsberg via The Sivel Group

Does the home whose rear portico you see above call to mind images of country clubs or mansions from the movies?

If it doesn’t, maybe you haven’t been watching the right movies, for this beautifully restored 1920 center-hall Colonial is so photogenic it hurts.

Designed by Robert McGoodwin and built for Andorra Nursery owner William Harper, “Andorra House” is the beneficiary of a top-to-bottom renovation that has both restored and renewed its original historic details and updated it for today’s way of life, with plenty of gracious spaces for everyday living and entertaining. Read more »

Greylock Estate Up For Sheriff’s Sale

A mortgage holder is forcing the vacant Greylock mansion at 209 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. into sheriff's sale. Conservation and preservation easements attached to the property may prove a stumbling block to a successful transaction, however. | TREND Image via Estately.com

A mortgage holder is forcing the vacant Greylock mansion at 209 W. Chestnut Hill Ave. into sheriff’s sale. Conservation and preservation easements attached to the property may prove a stumbling block to a successful transaction, however. | TREND Image via Estately.com

Greylock, the English Jacobean Revival-style mansion Pittsburgh steel magnate Henry Laughlin built as his retirement home in Chestnut Hill in 1909, is being auctioned off to pay back taxes and at least one foreclosed mortgage at a sheriff’s sale scheduled for Nov. 1.

The home, located at 209 W. Chestnut Hill Ave., has been vacant for “a number of years,” according to Lori Salganicoff, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society (CHHS). Its last occupant was a nonprofit organization that used the mansion as its office.

The sale has as its goal paying off $90,000 in back taxes plus the arrears on a mortgage held by a limited liability company that acquired the loan from its originator, Nova Bank. The stated opening bid for the property is $237,300. Read more »

First-Time Find: So You Want To Live in Chestnut Hill?

7814 Devon St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19119 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

7814 Devon St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19119 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

Chestnut Hill’s fans and defenders take great pains to point out that the neighborhood doesn’t really deserve its reputation as Pennsylvania’s answer to Greenwich, Conn. They point to the social-reformist impulses of one of its primary developers, George Woodward, and note that there’s actually a wide range of fine homes at various price points available in the neighborhood.

Critics scoff. Then a resident comes along to drop evidence in our lap.

The evidence is this handsome updated 1920s rowhome on Devon Street at the base of the hill. Located on a quiet residential street not far from Cresheim Valley Drive, this end-of-row unit boasts many features you’ll find on homes listing for much more than this one does. Read more »

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