May Newsletter

A Preservation Month Victory!

The Philadelphia Historical Commission has unanimously voted to add the main building of the Chestnut Hill Women’s Center at 8811 Germantown Avenue, to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places!

Read about the building’s history and significance in the nomination HERE.

The Historical Commission accepted a compromise crafted by the Conservancy and the Temple Health – Chestnut Hill Hospital that protects the main, Germantown Avenue volume of the building (all facades and roofs of the colonnaded central portion and its wings), but not the rear ell or the carriage house.
Adaptive reuse of historic sites sometimes requires the loss of some non-primary historic fabric, and this compromise provides the hospital with the ability to sensitively expand and modernize while retaining the publicly visible main part of the historic building. The building will thankfully continue provide an important softening transition from residential to institutional.
This means that any discussion of a likely future rear addition would focus more on the impact of any new construction on the building as viewed from Germantown Avenue, and less on the loss of that rear ell.  The hospital may yet retain the handsome carriage house, but its condition, location, and disuse made flexibility with that building a priority for the hospital.

Chestnut Hill Hospital CEO Rich Newell (second from left) celebrates the newly protected Women’s Center with Councilperson Cindy Bass (center) and  Bill Webster, Eileen Javers, and Lori Salganicoff.       

Congratulations, and thanks to all who contributed time and treasure to help us protect this important historic resource to be adapted and modernized.  We are glad for this confirmation that the public benefits of health and historic preservation are both possible.

Historic Preservation in Northwest Philadelphia


Photo: Bradley Maule.

A recent article by Francesca Chapman of the Chestnut Hill Local titled “NW Philadelphia: Unprotected and Vulnerable,” highlights the vital work of local preservationists, including our own Lori Salganicoff and co-founder Shirley Hanson. Historian Oscar Beisert and Woodmere’s Bill Valerio are also featured among the many heroes working tirelessly to protect the rich history and architectural heritage of Northwest Philadelphia. Lori emphasizes the importance of recognizing and preserving our historic buildings before they are lost to time and development pressures.

Shirley Hanson, has been a pioneering force in local and regional historic preservation, joining forces with others to research and catalog thousands of properties in Chestnut Hill. Her work, along with that of Richard Snowden and Jefferson Moak, led to the neighborhood’s addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 – one of the nation’s largest historic districts at the time.

The National Register listing is honorary, offering no protections from demolition or radical alterations. Philadelphia is the least protected among the nation’s major metropolitan areas, with only a small percentage of properties listed on the city’s Register of Historic Places. Although Chestnut Hill has a higher percentage of protected historic properties than the city’s average, this gap in protection puts many historic buildings at risk.

In the mid-1980s to document and celebrate the area’s extraordinary architectural heritage, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society (now the Conservancy) researched and produced an inventory of over 2,700 buildings, virtually every building in Chestnut Hill. As a result, the National Park Service recognized Chestnut Hill as a National Historic District for its unique development history, community significance, and wide-ranging examples of American architecture and cultural landscape. Despite this achievement, many historic buildings remain at risk without comprehensive protection, highlighting the need for an ongoing, thorough inventory to safeguard the city’s historic assets.

During this National Historic Preservation Month, we reflect on both the successes and losses in our ongoing battle to preserve the unique character and history of our community. The Chestnut Hill Conservancy continues to advocate for stronger protections and awareness, working with local groups and city officials to safeguard our architectural heritage.

Read the full story by Francesca Chapman HERE to learn more about the efforts and challenges of preserving Northwest Philadelphia’s historic landscape.

Spring Gala – Honoring Charlie Dilks 

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s sold out Spring Gala on Saturday, June 8, will honor Charlie Dilks, a man whose commitment to conservation has significantly impacted the community. Held on the grounds of a historic Norman-style home with conserved land in Wyndmoor, the gala will recognize his contributions to preserving the area’s natural and important historical resources.
Inspired by his naturalist mother, Charlie’s passion for the environment began in childhood, exploring the Wissahickon Valley and discovering a new species of crab in 1962 named for him: Prehepatus dilksi . His journey has been distinct by significant contributions to environmental health and sustainability. Charlie’s vision led to the creation of the “Catalyst” program, funding a full-time easement manager at the Conservancy to protect and manage conservation easements. His leadership and commitment have greatly enhanced the organization’s capacity to preserve our natural resources, and the beloved Wissahickon.

As the Conservancy celebrates Charlie’s contributions, we reflect on his enduring commitment to conservation through various organizations, including Natural Lands, Friends of Fairmount Park (now the Fairmount Park Conservancy), Pennsylvania Environmental CouncilThe Schuylkill Center, and Friends of the Wissahickon.

Be on the lookout in next week’s Chestnut Hill Local for a longer feature on Charlie.

The Spring Gala is SOLD OUT, but if you are unable to attend and would like to make a donation in Charlie’s honor to further the work he has dedicated his life to, click here to make a donation.


Banking on Great Preservation

During May’s Preservation Month, Chestnut Hill Conservancy is shining a spotlight on one of the area’s beloved historic building with an inspiring stories of preservation.

One such building is 8527 Germantown Avenue, constructed in 1928 for the Germantown Trust Company’s Chestnut Hill Branch. Designed by noted architect Arthur Brockie, this Colonial Revival-style building retains a remarkable wealth of historic architectural features.

One such building is 8527 Germantown Avenue, constructed in 1928 for the Germantown Trust Company’s Chestnut Hill Branch. Designed by noted architect Arthur Brockie, this Colonial Revival-style building retains a remarkable wealth of historic architectural features.
Originally held by Germantown Trust, the building later housed the First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company, and most recently, Wells Fargo Bank. Since Wells Fargo left in 2022, many have wondered about the building’s future.

Read more about the history and significance click HERE.

Approaching its 100th anniversary, the building was bought last winter by MEH Investments, who will be sensitively renovating it for Chase Bank. Recently nominated by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy for the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, 8527 Germantown Avenue remains a cherished treasure in our built environment – and will continue to serve as a bank!

Help Shape Pennsylvania’s Next Historic Preservation Plan

The Conservancy is glad to participate in the development of Pennsylvania’s next statewide historic preservation plan through the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO). As part of this effort, PA SHPO is engaging with stakeholders across the commonwealth to identify goals and action items for the new plan.

One of the tools they are using to gather information is a wikimap, an easy-to-use online crowdsourcing platform. This tool allows sharing success stories and challenges related to historic preservation. The map will be available through the end of this month.

They are seeking three types of information:

        • Preservation Success: Examples of successful projects involving older and/or historic places.
        • Preservation Challenge: Examples of projects where historic/cultural resources face challenges.
        • Local Business: Information from small business owners who have established their businesses in historic spaces or communities.

To contribute, zoom in on the desired location on the map, click the “Drop a Pin” icon, and provide detailed information. You can access the wikimap here: PA Preservation Plan 2024. Your input is invaluable in shaping the future of historic preservation in Pennsylvania!

Supporting the Expansion of PA’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit

The Conservancy is proud to be a member of the PA Historic Tax Credit Coalition, working alongside Preservation Pennsylvania and the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. Together, we support Senator Saval and Representative Farry’s efforts to expand the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

Investing in historic rehabilitation projects has a significant economic impact. A $1 million investment generates 6.4 direct jobs and 5.6 indirect jobs in Pennsylvania, surpassing the job creation rates of any other industry, including the gas industry. Strengthening this tax credit program will not only preserve our state’s rich history but also boost local economies and create jobs.

Join us in advocating for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Tax Credit to preserve our heritage and boost local economies. Click HERE to learn more about the effort and what you can do.

Partner News

Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) will begin construction on the Valley Green Run Restoration and Pedestrian Bridge Project next Tuesday, May 28.Screenshot%202024-05-23%20122607.png

The scope of work includes:

          • Stabilization and reconstruction of approximately 240 linear feet of stream channel and streambank on Valley Green Run Construction of a 200-foot-long elevated pedestrian walkway
          • Stormwater infrastructure improvements and hardscaping along the existing trail connecting Valley Green Road parking area to the northern approach of the new pedestrian walkway
          • In order to undertake a project of this scale and ensure public safety, Valley Green Road, below the intersection of Wolcott Drive will be closed for the duration of the project. Construction is anticipated to last 6 months and be complete by the end of 2024.

For any additional questions or concerns, click HERE or email capitalprojects@fow.org.

While project construction will be an inconvenience in the short term, the longstanding concerns for park visitor safety and the environmental impacts of erosion will be addressed here with enduring solutions that will improve health of and access to Wissahickon Valley Park overall.

Historic Germantown to Honor Steve Kurtz


Steve Kurtz (far right) with John Carr, Joe Anton, Charlotte Pietzman, Bill Spiegelmeyer, Patricia Cove, Heidi Shusterman, and John McCoubrey during the “Spring Home Improvement Contest” in 2004. Chestnut Hill Conservancy Archives.

On Friday, June 7, the Conservancy is happy to support the Historic Germantown Hall of Fame gala which will honor our mutual friend Steve Kurtz, founder of Kurtz Construction Company, esteemed historic preservationist, colorful storyteller, and dedicated community volunteer. Steve’s significant contributions to the quality of life in Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill exemplify the spirit of our community. Congratulations to Steve, and best wishes to Historic Germantown in celebrating his remarkable achievements and supporting their vital work.

From the Archives


In honor of the arrival of Memorial Day on Monday, May 27, this photograph originally published in the Chestnut Hill Local captures a Memorial Day service held in 1997 at the Butler World War I memorial at Germantown Avenue and Mermaid Lane.

Giving a seven-gun salute at the memorial were (from left to right) James McCafferty, John Gilligan, Tom Cunningham, John Curry, Tim Alexander, Joe Deissler, and Dan Crilley. We thank you for your service to our country.

Tim Alexander, a beloved friend and dedicated community member, recently passed away. His contributions and kindness touched many lives, leaving a lasting impact on all who knew him.

To see more photographs like the one shown here, go to chconservancy.org/archives.

Remembering Edith Dixon


Edith Robb Dixon (far right) at the Conservancy’s Perennial Fete in 2017, pictured with Kim Sheppard and Gerard Strenger. 

Edith Robb Dixon passed away on May 18 at the age of 91, following a brief illness. A dedicated Philadelphian, she also cherished her time in Winter Harbor, Maine, and Palm Beach, Florida.

With her late husband, Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr., Edith was active in community life, attending events, working on boards, and volunteering. She served on the boards of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Abington Jefferson Hospital, the Society of the Four Arts, the Schoodic Institute, and the Hill at Whitemarsh. Edith’s philanthropy spanned healthcare, education, the arts, environmental preservation, and she was a supporter of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy.

In 2016, the restored 19th-century historically significant farmhouse “Dixon Meadow House,” named for Edith Dixon, was formally dedicated and now serves as a learning center for preserve and meadow management and the headquarters of the Whitemarsh Foundation. Kim Sheppard, President of Whitemarsh Foundation, said, “Edie provided key visions for the creation and subsequent growth of the Whitemarsh Foundation, wholeheartedly embracing all that we did to bring that vision to reality. Her unwavering dedication and fervent support were instrumental not only in our Foundation but in many others. We are all better for her wisdom and guidance.”

A memorial service and reception will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 East Chestnut Hill Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118.

In the News

Events Calendar 

        • Saturday, June 8Spring Gala. SOLD OUT.
        • Stay tuned for the fall programs calendar. Coming soon!
Support the Conservancy

If you’re interested in volunteering for future Conservancy programs and events, contact Programs and Communications Manager Chrissy Clawson.


In addition to supporting our work, did you know that members receive special benefits like discounted admission to programs and free research in the archives? Join today!


Your support is a commitment to celebrating and sustaining the history, architecture, and open green space of Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities in the Wissahickon Watershed.



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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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