The Resource Center

Do you need to find someone who can repair your slate roof? Someone who can figure out the wiring in your early twentieth-century house? Want to know how to make your old windows open smoothly again? Need a place to find a doorknob that matches the rest of the doorknobs in the room? Just curious about when your house was built or what it looked like? The Resource Center at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society may have the answer for you.

Maintaining an older building can present the homeowner with special challenges, but it can also be highly rewarding. The Resource Center can help you to find solutions to preserve your home for yourself and for the future.

Finding a contractor who speaks the language of preservation can often be difficult. With an older house, the preservation, maintenance, and repair of the original materials is usually the best solution in the long run, both economically and for the preservation of the building. We have compiled (and continue to add to) a list of contractors, consultants, suppliers, and other professionals who understand older buildings and their surroundings, and can help you to find solutions that meet your needs while preserving the special character of the building for you and future generations.

For the do-it-yourselfer, the Resource Center can provide information that can make tackling a project easier. Our lists also include an extensive list of suppliers of materials, tools, and products that are appropriate for older buildings. Whether you need a custom-made door or a single knob, or if you need a product that can safely remove old lead-based paint or a way to tell what the appropriate colors for new paint might be, the Resource Center can point you in the right direction. We can also help you to find resources that can help you to learn specialized techniques for repairs and maintenance and give you advice on what to be aware of before starting on a project in an older home.

The Resource Center can also provide you with a wide range of information on other topics, as well. We have technical information from the National Park Service on specific issues concerning the rehabilitation and maintenance of older buildings. If you are thinking of renovating a commercial or rental property, there is material on Federal tax credit programs for historically-appropriate renovations. For the homeowner, we can guide you to resources for insurance, energy conservation, environmental concerns and many other issues faced in an older home.

If you are interested in the history of your building, the Resource Center can help, as well. Most of the buildings in Chestnut Hill were catalogued in 1985 for the nomination that put the area on the National Register of Historic Places, so we can tell you when the building was built and, often, who the developer, architect, or original owners were. Our collection of architectural reference materials can also help you to place your home within the broader stylistic and cultural trends of the time in which it was built. The historical society’s archives may also have other materials—drawings, photos, etc.—that may help you trace your home’s history. If not there are a wide variety of other resources—local, regional, and national—that we may be able to help you find.

So, if you have questions about how to approach a project in your home, we hope you’ll find an answer here. You can also contact us by e-mail and we can, of course, also be reached in person at the Historical Society’s home at 8708 Germantown Avenue, or by phone at 215 247-9329.

We hope that the center will prove to be a useful resource for building owners in our historic neighborhoods. The center is still a work in progress, so if there are resources that you know of that you think would be helpful to add, please let us know.