Preservation Awards

Spotlighting preservation projects that deserve community recognition

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Preservation Recognition Awards honor outstanding projects within the Chestnut Hill National Register Historic District (virtually all of Chestnut Hill). Each award recognizes a project that is a striking gift to Chestnut Hill today – and far into the future — and an inspiration for others as they care for their own buildings. These awards help to express our gratitude to those who cherish our historic and architectural resources.

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Preservation Recognition Awards will honor projects in the following categories:

  • Preserving / protecting historic resources (in the built or natural environment),
  • Historic building restoration, rehabilitation or adaptive reuse, or
  • Good stewardship of an important building.

Eligible projects will be within the boundaries of the Chestnut Hill National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places (virtually all of Chestnut Hill) and substantially completed by December 2017. All projects must be carried out according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

This is a great way to give deserved recognition to your firm, a local business, or your wonderful neighbors for the lasting contribution they’ve made to historic Chestnut Hill!

The deadline for submissions has passed. Awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting, Sunday, January 7 at 4pm at St Paul’s Parish Hall.

2016 Preservation Awards Applaud Community Members’ Exceptional Care

By Shirley Hanson, founding director of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy

Inside Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s historic Wissahickon Inn building on January 8, 2017, the annual meeting of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy (formerly Historical Society) attracted a large and energetic audience of Chestnut Hill enthusiasts. The organization’s new name, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, was announced at this meeting, reflecting all three core areas of activity over the past 50 years of its existence: architecture preservation, land conservation, and collection of the Chestnut Hill and Wissahickon Archives.

A highlight of the annual meeting was the Preservation Recognition Awards, which applaud the exceptional work undertaken by community members to keep the historic resources of the Chestnut Hill National Historic District (virtually all of Chestnut Hill) well preserved and functional. This year we honored five extraordinary projects. Each was carried out according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. And each is a striking gift to Chestnut Hill and an inspiration for others as they care for their own buildings.

Here we go behind the scenes with the awardees.

In 1999, the forlorn building at 8836 Germantown Avenue called out to Jeanne and Philip Connolly for help. At that time, the structure, built in 1850, housed classrooms and three residences. Over the next 17 years, the Connollys uncovered hidden features; removed walls, ceilings, and hallways not part of the original house; and replaced and restored original elements.

The restoration work began with meticulous research. Patricia Cove, of Patricia Marion Cove Architectural Interiors and Design, contributed her knowledge and experience to the journey. Today the Connolly’s care attests to the structure’s original glory as a single-family home adorning Germantown Avenue.

We also honored Deborah R. Popky and George L. Popky, MD, for the rehabilitation of their historic home’s roof. Its new copper elements literally shine on Chestnut Hill! “After much thought and investigation,” the Popkys said, “we decided it was important to us to honor the original house and replace the roof as intended.” That meant obtaining enough red slate for the entire roof. (To their dismay, they discovered that former roofing work included painting grey slate red to imitate the original. “When the paint wore off the roof became unsightly!”)

Halstead Roofing, based in Oreland, PA, was chosen for the project. They located the red slate and carried out the roofing work with impressive attention to detail. We celebrate with the owners the visual excitement of their two unique older homes. Their commitment to careful craftwork, prized materials, and imaginative design will stand out far into the future.

Next, a look at the Willow Grove Avenue Bridge. There the Philadelphia Department of Streets tackled the challenge of “replacing a severely deteriorated, structurally deficient bridge that is also integrated into an existing SEPTA commuter train station.” You may, like me, smile happily every time you cross the new bridge.

Here are just a few of the reasons why we admire the results. Multiple times during the project, the Streets Department in collaboration with PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration engaged the community for input. In addition, the Streets Department sought and obtained approval from the Philadelphia Art Commission, the city’s design review board. The new bridge, situated within the Chestnut Hill National Historic District, meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Comprised of locally quarried Wissahickon Schist stone, the existing foundations for this project were reused for the third time in approximately 120 years.

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy also singled out the rehabilitation of the 3-foot high, curving brick retaining wall on St. Martin’s Lane. Accepting this award for the owners were the project team of Matt Millan, principal of Matthew Millan Architects in Chestnut Hill, and Mario Galli and Mike Wentzel, from Jamison Masonry in Oreland.

Here’s Mr. Millan’s description: “By 2015, sections of the wall were collapsing, and other areas were in danger of overturning.” Much of the wall was beyond repair, and “a total of 380 feet of retaining wall would need to be replaced.” He explained, “For the rebuilt portions of the wall, providing structural integrity and water management were high priorities along with matching the historic character of the existing construction.”

The project, he revealed, “was complicated by weather delays unmarked utilities, traffic control along a busy road and intersection and limited work and layout areas.” But now the wall stands strongly as a distinguished and appreciated landscape feature of Chestnut Hill.

Finally, the Conservancy honored “Brinkwood,” a private home in Chestnut Hill, for the preservation and stewardship of its porch, façade, and carved gable. Dennis Meyer, Chris Meyer, and Don Coleman of Dennis F. Meyer, Inc. accepted the award for the owners. Picture this one small aspect of their care: A gable 35 feet off the ground – not easily accessible — included rotted, cracked, and missing moldings. The center window was falling apart. Numerous coats of old paint and caulk hid the intricate details. The firm’s approach began with cataloging every little piece of the gable and laying each one on plywood, the same way it was installed on the wall.

The cedar shakes on the outside of the house were replaced with clear heart red cedar. Half of the carved molding band that adorns the fascia had fallen into disrepair and required replacing. Chris Meyer explained, “We recreated molds in our shop and reproduced exact castings of the highly detailed fleur-de-lis and continuous wreath moldings.” The Conservancy thanks the experts at Dennis F. Meyer, Inc. for their patience, know-how and care and the owners for their extraordinary commitment to Brinkwood.

The Conservancy is grateful to all award winners for contributing continuity and incredible beauty to our lives today, and future generations. These varied projects respect Chestnut Hill’s past, invigorate its present, and promise its future.

Read about 2015 and 2014 awarded projects in the Chestnut Hill Local.

Then-President of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy Board, Randy Williams, awardees Philip and Jeanne Connolly, and Board members Patricia Cove and Shirley Hanson
Randy Williams, and awardees George Popky, and Deborah Popky
Philadelphia’s Streets Department was recognized for its exemplary restoration of the Willow Grove Avenue Bridge
Matthew Millan Architects and Jamison Masonry collected an award for their complete rehabilitation of the curved wall on St. Martin’s Lane
Don Coleman, Chris Meyer, and Dennis Meyer gave new life to an extraordinary carved gable on a Chestnut Hill historic home