Preservation Advocacy

Balancing beneficial development with protection of architectural and environmental resources

Below: If houses like this, one by one, were lost, Chestnut Hill would quickly become a very different place. The Chestnut Hill Conservancy catalyzed a community movement in 2016 that turned a developer’s planned demolition — of this T. P. Chandler-designed house of high architectural significance — toward preservation and sensitive redevelopment. (photo: Emily Cooperman)

The Chestnut Hill built environment is rare and remarkable

 

Chestnut Hill has a rich tradition of architectural diversity, beginning with 18th-century houses, barns, and mills. After the Revolutionary War, Federal architecture of the village gave way to a myriad of Victorian styles.

Nearly every notable architect practicing in Philadelphia over the past 170+ years is represented in Chestnut Hill — from the early Italianate Victorian designs of Samuel Sloan, to the exuberant Queen Anne buildings of the G. W. & W. D. Hewitt firm; from the groundbreaking, European influenced work of Wilson Eyre, to the exquisitely designed country houses of Mellor, Meigs & Howe; and from the ornate classical design of Horace Trumbauer, to the early modern works of Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi.

Equally notable is the imaginative interweaving of nature throughout the built environment. For over 140 years, the Houston and Woodward families have provided Northwest Philadelphia with hundreds of acres of sustainable open space as an integral part of their real estate developments.

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy leads the efforts to protect this extraordinary architectural and environmental heritage and ensure that Chestnut Hill continues to thrive as a special place.

 

Of the 2,700 buildings recognized as part of the Chestnut Hill National Register Historic District — a predominantly honorary distinction — only 90 are actually listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and protected by the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Of the 400 acres identified by Friends of the Wissahickon as high-priority conservation areas in Chestnut Hill, only a quarter is protected by conservation easement. Increasing these protections is part of the fundamental work being done by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, in partnership with owners, neighbors, and supporters!

If you are interested in helping with advocacy efforts to prevent unnecessary destruction of intact resources in your neighborhood by rallying your neighbors into an effective coalition (with our guidance), please contact Executive Director Lori Salganicoff: lori@chconservancy.org or 215-247-9329 x 201.