January Newsletter


2024 Annual Meeting

Congratulations to the newly elected and re-elected Conservancy Directors, including Rob Fleming, Steve Gendler, R. Scott Hanson, Susan Jacobson, Federico Mignozzi, Nancy Newman, Deborah Popky, and Paul Toner by Membership vote.

New Directors: Robert

New Directors: Robert “Rob” Fleming, R. Scott Hanson, and Federico Mingozzi.

Each Director brings a wealth of experience and passion for Chestnut Hill, contributing to the Conservancy’s mission in various capacities. Rob Fleming, a respected landscape architect; R. Scott Hanson, a senior scholar in Urban History; and Federico Mingozzi, a biotechnology CEO, will undoubtedly enrich our initiatives.

Congratulations to the reelected 2024 Historic District Advisory Committee (HDAC),  Richard Bartholomew, Patricia Cove (chair), Shirley Hanson, Matt Millan, Miles Orvell, William O’Keefe Jr., Deborah Popky, William Webster, and Randy Williams.

We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the members who participated in person at Norwood-Fontbonne Commons and joined us virtually for the 2024 Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 18. Special thanks to our hosts at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy for facilitating a successful gathering and Riley Beetner for providing a brief update on Norwood-Fontbonne’s plans.

For more details on our Board of Directors, visit chconservancy.org/board. Explore the HDAC at chconservancy.org/hdac.

Celebrating Outgoing Directors


Outgoing Directors: Carolyn Adams l. (with Emilie Lapham r.), Richard Bartholomew, and Nancy Dickson.

During our Annual Meeting, Board President Eileen Javers recognized our outgoing Directors, Carolyn Adams, Richard Bartholomew, and Nancy Dickson.

Carolyn Adams, a dedicated Board member since 2008, has played many key roles, including Secretary and Collections Chair. Her impactful journey began as a volunteer, and she continues to lead the Collections Committee, making transformative contributions to our exhibits. Beyond the Conservancy, Carolyn’s diverse experiences include roles as an Art Reference librarian and IT consultant. We are so glad and grateful that she will remain active on the Conservancy’s Collections, Programs, and Space Analysis committees.

Richard Bartholomew joined the Board in 2021 but has been integral to many of our community efforts for years. He is a retired architect and city planner with 45 years of expertise. Richard serves on the Program Committee, represents us at the Chestnut Hill Community Association, and contributes to public programs. His dedication to the community is evident through his continued involvement in various committees, including the Historic District Advisory Committee.

Nancy Dickson, also a Board member since 2021, brings a passion for historic architecture and preservation. Chair of the Conservancy’s Building Committee, she also actively contributes to the Collections and Preservation committees. Her expertise in systems engineering has been invaluable for database and mapping projects. Before joining, Nancy and her husband protected and renovated their historic home in Chestnut Hill. As an Archives volunteer, she retrieved 22 years of Chestnut Hill Local photographs, enriching our collection. Nancy’s ongoing dedication as an Archives volunteer reflects her unwavering commitment to the Conservancy’s mission.

We are so grateful for their hard work and dedicated leadership.

Annual Appeal Success – Thank You!

At the Conservancy, we understand the shared desire within our community to preserve our architecture, strike a harmonious balance between development and conservation, embrace sustainable living, and delve into the richness of our histories. Your support has been the driving force behind turning these aspirations into advancing our mission.

We are thrilled to share the results as the curtains close on another successful year-end campaign. Our community’s unwavering support propelled us to raise $59,262.39, surpassing our initial goal of $55,000!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our dedicated staff and Board Members, with special recognition to Diane Drinker and Nancy Newman, who led the Major Gifts Committee with unparalleled guidance and support.

We sincerely thank Bill McLaughlin and Judy Xie for their generous matching gift during our year-end campaign. Their dedication played a crucial role in ensuring the success of this fundraising effort.

Thank you to all of our generous Annual Appeal Donors!


Community Gathers to Save the Train

Our transit faces a $240 million shortfall, risking severe cuts. The Chestnut Hill West Rail line, Chestnut Hill East line, and bus services are in jeopardy. Let’s urge Harrisburg to allocate the $900 million surplus to SEPTA.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Zoom meeting on Tuesday, January 23, to see how we, with our neighbors, can organize and advocate for saving the Chestnut Hill West Line, hosted by our friends at West Mt Airy Neighbors. Click HERE to watch the Community Meeting.

Here is what you can do to help Save the Train:

          • Sign the petition and forward it to neighbors and friends.
          • Call and email Governor Josh Shapiro (717-787-2500).
          • Tell Governor Shapiro to include funding public transit as a top priority in his February 6 budget address.
          • Share your personal stories about the impact of potential closures and reduction in services.
          • Volunteer to help distribute signs.
          • Rally and Ride on Sunday, January 28, at 10:00 AM.
The Chestnut Hill Conservancy is proud to be a part of the Save the Train Coalition.

Follow us on social media to learn more about the history of public transit in our area with #SeptaSaturday.

Stay up to date with news coverage by clicking HERE.

Visit savethetrain.org to learn more.


February Program – “The Philly Tree Plan”


Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

On Thursday, February 22, virtually via Zoom, join us for Discovering Chestnut Hill: “The Philly Tree Plan,” with Erica Smith Fichman, Acting Manager of the Urban Forestry Unit at Parks & Recreation, at 7:00 PM. Tickets: Conservancy Member Admission $15.00, Non-Member Admission $25.00)

This talk will introduce you to the Philly Tree Plan, a ten-year strategic plan for the equitable planting and care of Philadelphia’s urban forest.  Learn about the state of Philadelphia’s urban forest and how it has changed over the past ten years, how the Philly Tree Plan was created and what residents had to say about their urban forest, what the Plan recommends, and the progress that has been made since its release in 2023.

Erica has spent her career connecting people with plants.  As the Acting Manager of the Urban Forestry Unit at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, she oversees many projects, including the TreePhilly Community Forestry program, street and park tree planting and maintenance, and emergency tree work.  She was also the project lead for the Philly Tree Plan, a 10-year strategic plan for the equitable growth and care of Philadelphia’s urban forest, released in 2023.

Register here

Celebrating National Seed Swap Day – January 28

Tomorrow, January 28, is National Seed Swap Day, which recognizes the cultural and communal aspects of gardening. Connecting with nature takes root through the beautiful tradition of collecting and sharing seeds, fostering a sustainable and vibrant ecosystem.

Swapping seeds with friends and neighbors is a way to grow your own food and an opportunity to recycle and propagate native plants. Our Programs and Communications Manager, Chrissy, has been actively engaged in seed swaps with friends for years. She finds they are a great way to plan what will sprout for the next season. They offer a fun,  enriching experience that brings together communities and cultures and promotes sustainable gardening practices.


Comptonia peregrina; Sweetfern

We invite you to share your seed swap stories by emailing us. Perhaps we will feature your story in future communications!

Don’t miss out on participating in a free Native Plant Seed Starting Workshop with our friends at TTF Watershed on Saturday, February 10! Register HERE and learn how to cultivate native plants to enhance your green space. TTF Watershed partnered with Penn State Extension Master Gardeners and Elkins Park Library to offer this free workshop. Click HERE to learn more about Landscaping with Native Plants.

From the Archives


This wintry view of the Chestnut Hill Water Tower was captured circa 1910, with newly-built houses on Ardleigh Street in the snow.

The City of Philadelphia’s water system did not extend to Chestnut Hill in 1859 when the Chestnut Hill Water Company built this tower. Water was pumped from a reservoir, where the Water Tower Recreation Center field is today, to the tank at the top. This created water pressure when it was released.

In 1904, the Philadelphia Water Department began pumping treated water to Chestnut Hill from the Schuylkill River via another reservoir, making this pumping station obsolete. In 1917, a storm destroyed the wood tank, leaving the tower as it appears today.

Click HERE for more photographs from our Archives, or even look for your house.

Sponsorship Opportunities


Sarah Mazzie announcing Chubb pledging to be the Conservancy’s lead sponsor in 2024!

If you are interested in sponsoring the Conservancy in 2024, contact our new Development Manager, Ashley Via Maass. Learn more about Ashley next month in our February monthly newsletter.

Events Calendar 
        • Thursday, February 22, Virtual, via Zoom. Discovering Chestnut Hill: “The Philly Tree Plan,” with Erica Smith Fichman, Acting Manager of the Urban Forestry Unit at Parks & Recreation, at 7:00 PM. Register HERE.
        • Saturday, March 9, Chestnut Hill Conservancy (8708 Germantown Avenue). Ask the Experts “Energy Retrofitting Your House,” with Chris Wilson of Unique Indoor Comfort at 1:00 PM. Registration coming soon. 
        • Thursday, April 10, Virtual, via Zoom. Ask the Experts “Rainwater Management at Home,” virtual program with Hap Haven at 7:00 PM. Registration coming soon. 
Support the Conservancy

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy is dedicated to safeguarding our neighborhood’s distinct character through three core pillars: historic architecture preservation, green open space conservation, and curating our community’s historical archive.

Your support enables us to carry out this vital work in our community.



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Great architecture is in our nature.

215-247-9329 | 8708 Germantown Avenue, Phila., PA 19118 | info@chconservancy.org 

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