The Future of Hiram Lodge

Plans to rebuild after devastating fire

The fire that devastated the historic Hiram Lodge building at 8425-27 Germantown Avenue has left many wondering about the future of this significant work of architecture in the middle of our “main street.” With the roof all but gone, and the steamy-looking remains of El Quetzal’s wares visible through the few remaining intact windows, the building stands strong as a testament to the sturdiness of well-built masonry structures. This, and the Masonic organization’s expressed interest in rebuilding, leave us hopeful.

The Conservancy has offered to help the Lodge with every aspect of rebuilding – evaluation, planning, fundraising, etc. We are in touch with Lodge representatives, and will soon know more about how they wish to receive any assistance. If you, or your business, would like to participate somehow in any of this, please contact us at

The Chestnut Hill Local has done some excellent reporting on this; click these links to read articles about the August 16th fire, and the Lodge’s plans to rebuild.  If you are not subscribed to the Local, you can do so HERE.

About the building

The building was completed in 1889 as a Romanesque Revival building with a hipped roof, two front cross-gables, an arched entrance, and two storefronts.

Now the home of Hiram Lodge 81, the building was constructed as the Knights of Pythias’ Preservation Lodge 46. The exterior of the building underwent numerous changes in the early 1900s, including alterations to the facades of the storefronts and the addition of fire escapes. The most changes occurred in 1960, when the front façade was “colonialized” during a program to rebrand Chestnut Hill’s business district as a “horizontal department store.”

The building’s architect, George T. Pearson, designed more than a dozen Significant buildings in Chestnut Hill, including several at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the Keewaydin complex, and many other residences throughout the community. Most, like this building, are considered to be Significant historic resources in the Chestnut Hill National Register Historic District, but are not listed on the Philadelphia Register.

Inside the Archives

Hidden treasures from our collection

The summer has been a busy time for the Chestnut Hill Conservancy Archives team, which cataloged a whopping 386 donated blueprints of floor plans generously donated by Bowman Properties, ranging from approximately 1924-2011. Some examples include a blueprint from 1949-1950 of plans to subdivide and build on the area where Cherokee Street intersects with Hartwell Lane; the plan proposed for the extension of Cherokee Street through to St. Andrew’s Road, and for the installation of a traffic circle/ roundabout at the Cherokee Lane/Hartwell Lane intersection.

Other plans include those associated with the projects of William McDowell, including those of houses he designed for Moreland Circle in the early 1960s. The plans were found by Bowman Properties, LTD employees in the old Eichler and Moffly real estate office on Bethlehem Pike, and were donated to the Conservancy last March. We are so grateful to have them!

Interested in seeing any of these plans? Please contact our Archivist, Alex Bartlett at to set up an appointment to come into the office and review them, and to take a look at our other amazing new accessions! You can also peruse our online photo collection for images that are part of our collection.

Easements and Conservation

Summer is an essential time for the Conservancy’s Easement Program.  Property wners have donated conservation and preservation “easements” on 51 properties to the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, with the expectation that the Conservancy will work with them and all future owners to ensure their protection.  If you wish to

Every summer, our Conservation and Easements Manager visits our eased properties to meet this . As the organization that oversees the easements, it is our duty to ensure the protections and provisions outlined in each easement are being followed so our community remains the historic, green, urban village we all fell in love with.

Even though we’ve been able to place easements on 51 properties encompassing over 100 acres and 22 façades, there are still hundreds of acres in Chestnut Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods that are most vulnerable for development. These identified areas are environmentally sensitive and have the greatest impact on the Wissahickon watershed. We are committed to doing what it takes to ensure stormwater runoff does not threaten all those that depend on the Wissahickon watershed while we also uphold the unique character and historic architecture of the area.

If you have questions about steps you can take to conserve our community or placing an easement on your own property, please contact Emily Schricker, Conservation and Easements Manager at

A (fiscal) year of growth & protection

We’d like to take a moment to share some of the incredible successes we’ve made over the past one. With the support of our dedicated members and supporters were were able to:
  • Secure our 50th AND 51st Easements preserving more open space and historic architecture – now totaling more than 100 acres and 22 façades;
  • Acquire an astounding diversity of new treasures into the Archives collection, ensuring the history of our area is preserved for generations;
  • Proactively protected significant architecture – like Yellowstone at 8720 Germantown Avenue, and Maguire Hall at 9001 Germantown Avenue
  • Awarded the Shirley Hanson Founders Award to the McCausland Family at the location of our very first easement;
  • Held our Preservation Celebration, raising vital funds and reconnecting with friends and neighbors at another beautiful eased property.

We still have much work to do to ensure our incredible community and are looking forward to all the wonderful things we can do together in the months and years ahead.

Support the Conservancy!

If your membership is up for renewal or you are looking to join us, you can make your contribution by mailing a check to our office or using a credit card online. You also can make a donation at any time throughout the year. Please do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions about your membership.

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Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118