Monday, October 29, 2012

Charming (and Historic) Chestnut Hill

During my recent trip to Philadelphia, I managed a Saturday morning breakfast in Chestnut Hill, one of the loveliest spots in and around the city.  It is quaint, charming, very close in but yet far enough out not to feel like you are in the city.  And Chestnut Hill has an illustrious history too!

The village of Chestnut Hill served as a gateway between Philadelphia and the nearby farmlands. During the late 18th century, the area was one of many summer vacation spots due to its higher elevation, 400–500 feet (120 to 150 m) above sea level, and cooler temperatures than the historic Center City. Chestnut Hill is still stereotypically known as one of the more affluent sections of Philadelphia.

Chestnut Hill (along with many other towns and farmlands of Philadelphia County) became part of the City of Philadelphia in 1854 when the County and the City became completely coterminous. In the same year, the Chestnut Hill Railroad opened, making an easy commute to and from Center City.

 The neighborhood contains a wide variety of 19th and early 20th century residential buildings by many of the most prominent Philadelphia architects.  The photo below is Inglewood Cottage, a Gothic Revival "villa" built in 1850 designed by famed American architect Thomas Ustick Walter, the fourth architect of the U.S. Capital.  This was one of the first summer homes built in and around Chestnut Hill. 

 (Wikipedia Photo)
This photo is Boxly, a Mantle Fielding designed home that was built for Frederick W. Taylor who died in 1915.  Taylor was a well known "efficiency expert" (who knew?) who purchased the property in 1901.  He used the construction of the house as a laboratory to test his theories of labor efficiency.  He even developed efficiency theories for playing golf, tennis, even planting boxwoods.  (Can you imagine living with this guy?)
Only the left side of Boxly remains in existence today.

 (Chestnut Hill Historical Society Photo)

So my brief period in Chestnut Hill was spent walking down the main shopping area (where we had breakfast) and window shopping (it was early).   Here are few photos I was able to take, mostly of windows but I want to go back!  Great color block dresses!

We saw this cute bakery but dined somewhere else.

Can you see this window display?  Very equestrian!

This is from the Philadelphia print shop. Great source for old etchings!

Another really cute sign!

The area is simply charming but I love all the history of Philadelphia.  Let's hope the area is not hit too hard by the impending storm.  Stay warm and safe.  We are being spared so far in this part of Virginia but I am afraid we will get snow!  Happy Monday and happy Halloween too!

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