CH Conservancy’s protection of 8224 Germantown Avenue moves forward
As we have all seen across the City, development pressure is now greater than ever. Many new projects would demolish existing older buildings and seek to replace them with the largest buildings and slightest open space allowed under current zoning. Our community is physically defined by streetscapes of pedestrian-scale architecture set in the collective “shared landscapes” of neighbors’ open space. The current push to fill parcels with maximized new buildings, especially when historic buildings are lost, increasingly erodes our community’s character. Adapting and updating existing buildings is also much more sustainable than teardown redevelopment.
Many were dismayed to hear the conceptual proposal, presented at a recent public meeting, to demolish the home at 8224 Germantown Avenue and replace it with a similar but larger home.
We are proud to report that the Designation Committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission recommended approval of the Conservancy’s nomination (and protection) of 8224 Germantown Avenue to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
If the Philadelphia Historical Commission approves this recommendation, the existing home would be protected, but could still be tastefully expanded and updated in a way that preserves the building and streetscape. Many historic buildings have been altered in this way – enlarged with rear additions, with interiors substantially renovated for contemporary needs.
A Brief History
The two-and-a-half story house at 8224 Germantown Avenue was built between 1885 and 1889 for Harriett Detweiler and Caroline Detweiler Hammond. The sisters were born and raised in Chestnut Hill by a family counted among the area’s earliest settlers. These two older, single women chose to share resources and commissioned this house between other family properties to live in and help raise grandchildren.
The house was constructed between two of Chestnut Hill’s earliest buildings, also built by the family (the 1744 Cat Clinic at 8220, and the former home at 8226 built ca.1796). All are included as Significant resources in Chestnut Hill’s National Register Inventory. The buildings represent the spatial development within Chestnut Hill among generations of family members – a practice of deeply-rooted families in Chestnut Hill whether or not they were members of the social elite.
This house and those like it scattered throughout the neighborhood evolved into a defining style of the built environment of Chestnut Hill: sturdily constructed but not overwhelmingly large houses in a diversity of styles, on relatively small lots that have an important visual connection both to the street and to their neighbors.
When 8224 was built 130 years ago as infill between existing buildings, it was done in such a way that complemented, but didn’t match, its neighbors. Change has always been happening here, and will continue. The Conservancy envisions Chestnut Hill as a green, vibrant, historic urban village that respects and celebrates its historic resources and open space; takes advantage of the social and economic value of historic preservation; and prioritizes harmony and enduring quality in new development.
This brief history was excerpted from the Philadelphia Register Nomination prepared by Architectural Historian Amy Lambert. To read more about the history and significance of 8224 Germantown Avenue, nomination HERE.
  • August 4 – Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment public meeting
540 W. Moreland Avenue (Keewaydin) subdivision appeal
Please attend if you are interested! Zoom link to attend HERE.
  • August 5 – Historic District Advisory Committee Public Meeting 6:30pm. Register HERE for a Zoom link to attend
Always feel free to contact us with any questions about the Conservancy, our programs and events, or your membership at
Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118