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  • Shawmont Station

    Shawmont Station 7700 Nixon Street, Philadelphia, PA, USA Owner: SEPTA Status: Structural improvements began in 2023 Visitors to the station are urged to be cautious. Access to the property is not permitted and parking is not available below Shawmont Ave. If you do visit, park on Shawmont Ave and walk down -- but be careful crossing the tracks as this is a working train line. History The following timeline was created by John Johnstone, Historian, Shawmont Station Advocate, RMWHS member. __________________ 1825 - Nathan Nathans, Center City Philadelphia lawyer, purchases land bordering Schuylkill Navigation Company's Towpath, along the Schuylkill River at a Sheriff's Sale, in Roxborough Township, above the Flat Rock Dam, formerly owned by the Criedlands. 1826 - After returning from England, Architect, William Strickland writes his "Reports on Canals, Railways, Roads, and Other Subjects", made to the Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of Internal Improvement. The Schuylkill Navigation Company completes laying their Schuylkill Turnpike between Domino Lane in Roxborough and Montgomery County, previously known as The Pebble Road. Nathan Nathans builds his vacation home on a small section of land between the Schuylkill Turnpike and Towpath, close to the Schuylkill River. 1827 - The Schuylkill Navigation Company maps it entire system between Schuylkill County PA, and Philadelphia, including prior land purchases for their towpath, as well as mapping their turnpike roads and bordering buildings. Visible on map is Nathan Nathans' country home. 1830 - Nathan Nathans sells his land and vacation home to John Wise, local Miller, but remains legal executor of Mr. Wise's estate. 1832 - The Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad operate Philadelphia's first passenger train between 9th& Green Streets, Philadelphia, and Germantown, utilizing Mathias Baldwin's steam locomotive, "Old Ironsides". 1833 - Architect William Strickland and Engineer Henry Campbell design the Norristown branch of the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad and construction begins. 1834 - Horse-drawn passenger trains operate from 9th and Green Streets to Manayunk on a set of single tracks, while tracks are laid northwest to Norristown. Nathan Nathans sues the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Railroad, for damages associated with laying tracks in front of John Wise's house. 1835 - The Norristown Branch is completed, and passenger trains make their way to Norristown. Nathan Nathans loses lawsuit to Railroad, and John Wises' house and property are sold to Henry Croskey, local Lumber Merchant and Passenger Railway Enthusiast. Mr. Croskey creates a runoff stream leading to the Schuylkill River on his property during his lumbering process and names it "Green Tree Run". He also builds an access road between the Ridge Turnpike in Upper Roxborough and the Schuylkill Turnpike and names it "Green Tree Lane". He names his newly acquired house by the Railroad, "Green Tree Station", which he facilitates for passenger service and freight service for his lumbering business, while using the Schuylkill Navigation Company for lumber transport as well. At Green Tree Station, Mr. Croskey houses Schuylkill Navigation Company workers overnight, who load large shipments of lumber onto barges, making it a "mixed use" building. 1836 - Engineer, Henry Campbell designs and sells steam Engines to the Railroad for the Norristown Branch. Freight branches are extended to the Plymouth Limekilns from Conshohocken and to a King of Prussia Quarry from Norristown. Campbell's poorly designed engines easily de-rail on grades and sharp curves. Mathias Baldwin produces more engines for the railroad, and steam engines fully replace horses on the Railroad. The Norristown Branch becomes double-tracked to facilitate high traffic. 1837-1840 - Henry Croskey continues to purchase nearby land for his lumbering business and builds his new homestead on a hill above Green Tree Station. He is noted to have made vast improvements to the area and to have facilitated the Railroad, Turnpike and Waterway, consistent with Pennsylvania's Internal Improvement plan. Both the Coleman and Crawford stagecoach companies start transporting passengers from the Ridge Turnpike to Railroad stations on the Norristown Branch. 1842 - The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad open passenger and freight service between Broad and Cherry Streets, in Philadelphia and Pottsville, PA, with a branch to Port Richmond, on the Delaware River, for coal transport. Their Main line runs along the West Bank of Schuylkill River, opposite to the Norristown Branch of Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad. 1843 - The Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad combine freight and passenger services with the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, with mutual access to the Delaware River docks at the foot of Noble Street, from the 9th and Green Street terminus. Henry Croskey opens a second business at the Railroad dock, utilizing the Railroad for lumber transport between Green Tree Station and the Delaware River. The Schuylkill Navigation Company loses revenue to the Railroads, which run from the Coal Regions in five hours, as opposed to the Navigation Company, taking six days. 1850 - A freshet causes flooding from the Schuylkill River and the Flat Rock Bridge below the Flat Rock Dam, between Lower Merion and the Schuylkill Turnpike, is destroyed. To facilitate travel close to the two points, a ferry is operated upstream between Rose Glen Station in Gladwyne, and Green Tree Station. 1853 - Henry Croskey moves to Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, though his lumbering business is maintained in Roxborough. Mr. Croskey becomes a leader in planning for intercity, public rail transportation. 1857 - Henry Croskey sells Green Tree Station and grounds of approximately seven by ten perches, to the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad, for one dollar. He also sells his estate above Green Tree Station to Thomas Shaw, inventor, who would invent several permanent improvements for the Railroads. The University of Pennsylvania begins having boat races on the Schuylkill River, between Green Tree Station and Spring Mill, through to the early Twentieth Century. The Railroad builds a freight station across the tracks. 1870 - The wealthy Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, who permanently leases the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad, absorb a financially troubled Schuylkill Navigation Company. Green Tree Station receives several upgrades to include a tin, fireproof roof with remodeled chimneys, an addition to house a permanent Station resident, its central doorway & stairway are removed and replaced with a bay window, housing a telegraph. Windows facing its platform are converted into doorways, one of which for a waiting room. Scored concrete is painted white and its passenger platform roof replaced. 1873 - With the Pennsylvania Railroad having a station in nearby Chester County, also named "Green Tree", Green Tree Station in Philadelphia County, is changed to "Shawmont", named after nearby resident and inventor, Thomas Shaw. 1874 - Henry Croskey opens and is President of the horse-drawn Ridge Avenue Railway, operating from North Philadelphia into Roxborough and Barren Hill, which eventually becomes electrified in 1884 - The Pennsylvania Railroad opens their Schuylkill Branch for service, which parallels the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad's Norristown Branch and Main Line, between Manayunk & Pottsville, PA, with through service to Wilkes Barre. They also open their own Shawmont Station, 300 feet north of the Philadelphia & Reading's. 1894 - Thomas Shaw develops an inclined railway to travel between Manayunk and Roxborough, but it never materializes. 1909 - The Brendel Family moves into Shawmont Station as permanent tenants/station masters. 1916 - The last freight barge travels down the locks of the Schuylkill River, though the locks remain open for recreational use. 1921 - The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad close passenger operations on the West Side of the Schuylkill River, below Bridgeport, and use that section exclusively for freight. The Norristown Branch is used for all local and express passenger trains between Philadelphia's Reading Terminal and Reading/Pottsville/Williamsport Lancaster/Harrisburg/Gettysburg/Shippensburg. The ferry between Rose Glen Station and Shawmont Station is closed. 1929 - The shutters on the windows of Shawmont Station are removed and put into storage. Scored concrete on front façade is replaced with flat concrete. 1940 - All locks along the Schuylkill River are closed. No recreational boating is permitted between Shawmont and East Falls. 1950 - The Reading Railroad cuts back passenger service from Williamsport to Shamokin. 1960 - The Pennsylvania Railroad cuts back passenger service from Norristown to Manayunk. Their circa 1884 Shawmont Station is removed, though that line continues to carry freight. 1963 - The Reading Railroad cuts passenger service to Shamokin and Harrisburg. Other than local commuter trains, the only express trains travelling Reading's Norristown Branch are to Reading and Pottsville. 1972 - Though Hurricane Agnes causes flooding along much of the Schuylkill River, Shawmont Station is spared. 1974 - Shawmont Station receives its last paint job. 1976 - Conrail takes over the Reading Railroad's passenger operations. 1979 - SEPTA takes over Conrail's passenger operations and the Norristown Branch becomes the R6 line. SEPTA extends Pennsylvania Railroad's Schuylkill Branch ¾ mile to Ivy Ridge from Manayunk and tracks North of that completely close for freight service, following abandonment by Conrail. Abandoned tracks above Port Royal Avenue in Shawmont are paved over into a bike path to Valley Forge. 1981 - SEPTA cuts back passenger service from Pottsville to Norristown. 1986 - SEPTA cuts back Pennsylvania Railroad's Schuylkill Branch from Ivy Ridge to Cynwyd and a new Ivy Ridge Station is put on the R6 Norristown Branch, one mile south of Shawmont. 1991 - Shawmont Station is no longer a scheduled stop, but a whistlestop. Its waiting room is closed. 1995 - Shawmont Station is no longer a whistle stop but remains occupied. 2008 - Through the work of Historian John Johnston and Preservation Architect William Breard, Shawmont Station is placed on Philadelphia's Register of Historic Places, as the oldest passenger railroad station in America. The effort required the personal collection of documents and materials from across the state. 2013 - The last of the Brendel's descendants, move out of Shawmont Station, after occupying the Station for 104 years. SEPTA decides to have the Station restored and submits historical railroad documents to John Johnstone. 2014 - Research and documents show that Shawmont Station, originated as an 1826 country house, and is not only the oldest passenger railroad station in America, but also the oldest building owned by any railroad, in the World. *2021 - SEPTA calls for bids for the restoration work needed at Shawmont. *2023 - The $1.26M structural rehab to shore up the building began on January 18 by Contractor Donald E. Resinger. *Updates added by Georgie Gould Gallery of Photos Restoration Photos by Amanda Robinson, SEPTA Project Manager Additional Items 1884-08-20 Philadelphia Inquirer 2008-02-23 Phila Daily News 1885-06-19 The Times

  • Bethany Lutheran Cemetery

    Bethany Lutheran Cemetery 378 Martin Street, Philadelphia, PA, USA Owner: Lutheran Church of SE Pennsylvania Status: This is a historic cemetery and no longer open for new burials. Visitors should see the sign posted on the cemetery gate. No pets are permitted. History German-speaking Lutherans of the Roxborough, Manayunk, Wissahickon area organized the Bethany German Lutheran Church (Bethanien Kirche) in 1845. The cemetery located at 378 Martin Street was opened in 1847 and the last burial took place in 1955. While the precise number of individuals buried in the cemetery is not known as the records have been lost, there were 73 grave markers that were transcribed and added to However, the actual number buried in the cemetery plot is likely several times that given the size of the cemetery, growth of the congregation, and the number of deaths that would have occurred over the 104 years. RMWHS Archivists found evidence that at least than 9 Civil War soldiers are buried at Bethany Cemetery. Ongoing research will be done by RMWHS to add what is known of others buried here. If you have burial records, newspaper articles, obituaries or documentation of someone buried at Bethany, please share the information with RMWHS. Gallery of Photos ​ ​

  • Leverington Cemetery

    Leverington Cemetery Lyceum Ave & Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128, USA Owner: Leverington Cemetery LLC Status: This is a historic cemetery that is still accepting new residents. Visitors are welcome during daylight hours when the front gate is open. Please watch your step -- old graveyards tend to have uneven ground and more than a few groundhog holes. History In 1703, Elizabeth, the 13-year-old daughter of Wigard Levering, was the first to be laid to rest on this land. Dozens of other Leverings would eventually join her as would their descendants, neighbors, and thousands of residents not only from the 21st Ward, but from across Philadelphia and Montgomery County. In the 320 years since Elizabeth's death, the cemetery was known as the Roxborough Burial Grounds and eventually the Leverington Cemetery -- taking its name from the area named in deference for the founding Levering families in the area. Memorials Revolutionary Soldiers Memorial Civil War Soldier Memorial Map A map of cemetery has been provided below. Burial Records & Resources Burial records & resources are available through , , and . If those resources do not provide the information you are looking for, you can contact RMWHS . Please note, you should check the online resources first as a courtesy to our volunteer archivists. Volunteers Welcome Each Spring members of the community are invited to participate in Clean-up & Planting Day. Volunteers and local groups come spend a few hours one Saturday doing minor weeding and landscaping projects as well as tending to the planters and cradle beds. If you are interested in helping, join/watch the Friends of Leverington Cemetery on Facebook for details on the date (which is typically in mid-to-late April). Adopt a Cradle Grave If you are interested in adopting a cradle grave, contact RMWHS . A few of our members organize weeding, planting, and occasional watering of a number of the cradle graves throughout the cemetery. We appreciate your assistance in help in beautifying one of our most treasured landmarks. Gallery of Photos Map ​

  • Landmarks

    Local Landmarks Additional landmarks will be added as they are completed. If you have images you'd share or would like to help us create a profile for this section, please contact us. RMWHS welcomes volunteers. Shawmont Station Shawmont Station is the oldest surviving passenger station in America and the oldest building owned by any railroad, in the World. It was a schedule stop until 1991 and then a whistle stop until 1995. Structural restoration began in 2023. Read More Leverington Cemetery Since the first recorded burial in 1703, more than 12,000 souls have been laid to rest on this land during the last 320 years. The residents of Leverington Cemetery include some of the first settlers of the area, Revolutionary soldiers massacred at Woods' Barn as well as soldiers from every war since, and the generations of people who played a part in building the communities around it. Read More Bethany Lutheran Cemetery The cemetery opened in 1847 and was a part of the churchyard for the first Bethany German Lutheran Church (Bethanien Kirche) which was erected here in 1850. After a fire destroyed the wood church, a new one was built nearby and this land was used exclusively for burials which continued here until 1955. The cemetery holds an untold number of early German immigrants and at least 9 Civil War soldiers. Read More

  • Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society - Philadelphia

    FYI - Due to the extreme heat, dangerous air quality, and torrential downpours we have experienced this summer, the completion date for the restoration of Shawmont Station has been pushed back to end of September (weather permitting). See details on restoration. | See historic timeline & photos of restoration progress. Peek at the Progress photos by Amanda Robinson, SEPTA Project Manager See the Hidden City Phila Article Shawmont Station Renovations Have Begun After what felt like a dreadfully long wait to many locals concerned with the state of Shawmont Train Station, the structural rehabilitation of historic landmark began on January 18, 2023. ​ SEPTA and Contractor Donald E. Resinger anticipate the completion date for the work to be sometime in July 2023 (obviously barring any unforeseen issues in the renovation, severe weather issues, etc.). The scope of the work includes replacement of joists, roofing, decks, windows, doors, and more in order to shore up the structure. ​ Photo by Leonard Gryn Photo by Georgie Gould Work is being done Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.; however, because the structure is extremely close to active railroad tracks, working at night will be required on occasion to ensure safety. ​ When the structural improvement work is done, and the building is sound, it will still not be ready for occupation/use. At that time a tenant will be sought to occupy the station. Whoever wins the bid process to occupy the spot will be responsible for completing any additional work they require to have it meet their organization/business needs. Other "retired" stations in the Philadelphia area have become coffee shops, cafes, used bookstores, offices, etc. The new tenant will be responsible for ongoing upkeep. Photo by Georgie Gould Rehab Progress to be Posted on Our the new Shawmont Station profile in Local Landmarks (see announcement on new web section below) provides: ​ photos of the progress an image gallery of the station past & present newspaper clippings and articles a historic timeline by John Johnstone, Historian ​ If you have news clippings, photos, or documents you think should be added to the profile, please contact us. ​ John Johnstone, Historian & Shawmont Station Advocate ​​​Visitor Warnings: If you decide to stop by and see the progress in person, you are urged to do so with great caution. No admittance to the property is allowed. There is no parking at the station -- park on Shawmont Ave, take your valuables, lock your car, and watch your step. Stay alert -- this is the realm of cyclists and they can appear suddenly and silently. Stay off tracks -- trains run regularly and they come through quickly. Take a Peek Inside the Station... ​ NBC ran a story that takes you inside for a glimpse at the building and gives you a taste of the history. ​ If you have photos or video of Shawmont Station past, present, or while work is in progress, share them with RMWHS. We'd be delighted to see them! DONATION S REQUESTED RMWHS preserves local yearbooks, class photos , and school publications wit hin the 21st Ward. Our collection is used for ge nealogical and local history research ... and we need more. Yearbooks. Photos. Publications. Any school. Any year. Any condition. Contact us . Levering School Shawmont School St John the Baptist High School Levering School 1/3 1876 Centennial Exhibition - No Small Feat A Recent Donation to RMWHS Archive Inspires a Look Back at the Centennial The 1876 Centennial Exhibition and the first World's Fair held in the United States was a colossal undertaking even by present day standards. Few people today truly appreciate the scope and scale of the international event held here 147 years ago -- but one RMWHS archivist hopes to change that by exploring the details of a recent donation to the RMWHS Archives far more closely. Read more. ​ New RMWHS Artifact ​ Includes more than 25 images from RMWHS, Library of Congress, and Free Library of Philadelphia ​ See More Special thanks to Pastor Jake Rainwater and the Epic Church for placing the Roxborough Baptist Church poster and other items into RMWHS' care. The donated items include church books, hymnals, photos, negatives, membership records, correspondence, publications, cemetery records, burial records, maps, and more. We Love Old Photos! Precisely 92 years after it was snapped on the streets of Roxborough, this gem of a photo found its way to RMWHS. ​ Finding an old photo like this one waiting for us in our email is the delight of an archivist's day -- and even more so when it's this undeniably cute. ​ RMWHS thanks Ken Gilbert and family for the donation which was added to the RMWHS Archive Image Collection to preserve it for the future. ​ If you have a photo (or a stack of photos) you think we should see, have, know about, contact us. We take digital or printed photos as well as slides, negatives, etc. We can even scan most images and return the originals if need be. ​ Have a safe and happy summer! Memorials of the 21st Ward RMWHS has launched a new web section -- Memorials of the 21st Ward -- which provides a listing of the 8 memorials within our area and includes a photo gallery of each. Each memorial page will be expanded in the months and years to come as images and newspapers clippings (both new and historic) are added. ​If you would like to contribute an image or information for any of the memorials, please contact us . Also, if we have missed a public memorial within the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon area, please let us know. ​ Each of the memorials is open to the public and all visitors (including service animals) are welcome. We remind all visitors to be respectful not only to the memorial and grounds, but of the others who may be there remembering loved ones lost, for whom these special places were created to honor. ​ ​Explore the Memorials of the 21st Ward. RMWHS thanks all who have served. RMWHS Note Cards To share a bit of local history and raise funds to help support our preservation and outreach activities, RMWHS is offer a set of 8 note cards for $10. The back of each card features facts or info about the photo or its significance. Each note card set contains 8 envelopes and 2 copies of each of the following 4 images: American Stores Co on Green Lane Empress Theater on Main Street Historic Staircase Between Rox & Mynk Henry Avenue Bridge & Wissahickon Creek Each note card is approximately 4.25 x 5.5 inches, was printed on a high quality not card stock to ensure a clear image, and is blank inside. ​ If you are interested in getting note cards, look for the RMWHS tent at the next community event or send us an email if you don't want to wait to get them -- we'll let you know were you can pick them up! Local Landmarks RMWHS has launched a new web section -- Local Landmarks . This section provide a profile on significant buildings and sites within our neighborhoods that will include a history, photo gallery, and more. ​ Currently we have only 3 online but more will be added as volunteers step forward to help. If you would like to contribute photos, newspaper clippings, or help research/write the history of a local landmark, please contact us . ​ Some of the landmarks are open to the public to visit. However, there are a few that are privately owned. Please be respectful of our neighbors, their property, and the special places in our community, ​ ​ Explore Local Landmarks

  • History Hub | RMWHS

    RMWHS History Hub ​​ Sections below will grow, merge, and change as additional content is added and this website evolves. ​ Topics to Explore Historic Districts Images & Image Collections Yearbooks Artists & Authors Maps & Self-Guided Tours Topics to Explore Up Memorials of the 21st Ward Discover Houses of Worship ​ This section is in development Local Landmarks Discover We have more topics to write about and welcome volunteer assistance. Contact us to learn more. Our Historic Districts Up Ridge Avenue Roxborough Historic District Discover Main Street Manayunk Historic District ​ This section is in development Upper Roxborough Federal Historic District ​ This section is in development Victorian Roxborough ​ This section is in development Images & Image Collections Up ​RMWHS Web Images - Details Revealed View the individual images used on the RMWHS website, get the details, and learn more about our local history. Explore Port Royal Horse Stable A beautiful image collection of horses, riders, events, and playful moments at the farm. Discover Yearbooks Up 2022 The images you submitted of local people, places , and events during 2022 . View 2023 Watch for updates Submit your local images View Artists & Authors Up Claude Clark World-Renowned Artist, Educator, & Roxborough High School Graduate Celebrate We have more topics to write about and welcome volunteer assistance. Contact us to learn more. Maps & Self-Guided Tours Up Historical Maps Explore 1304 Steps of Our Town Explore

  • RMWHS | About Our Website

    (as of May 8, 2023) Web Visitors from Near & Far ​ While Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society is a small organization located within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we've got web visitors from across the U.S. and around the world. Want to Contribute? ​If you would like to contribute images, or content, or have ideas for the RMWHS website, please contact us . ​ CANADA British Columbia New Brunswick Ontario Quebec ​ MEXICO ​ CENTRAL AMERICA Guatemala ​ CARIBBEAN Cayman Islands ​​ EUROPE England France Greece Ireland Italy Netherlands North Macedonia Norway Poland Portugal Scotland Serbi a Sweden Ukraine AFRICA Kenya Togo ​ ASIA China India Indonesia Philip pines ​ AUSTRALIA VISITORS FROM 47 STATES Alabama Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana ​ Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Missouri Mississippi Montana Missouri ​Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island ​South Carolina Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington Washington DC Wisconsin Wyoming We've yet to have visitors from Alaska, Nebraska, South Dakota.

  • RMWHS | RMWHS in the News

    RMWHS In the News If you are aware of a newspaper, magazine, website, or other source that has written about, quoted, or mentioned RMWHS, please let us know. 2022-07-29 -- Community invited to help shape RMWHS Image Collection ​ 2021-02-07 -- RMWHS celebrates Black History Month with a spotlight on artist Claude Clark ​ 2020-12-13 -- R MWHS Launches New Website 2020-11-17 -- RMWHS looks ahead into the digital age 2020-02-24 -- Natural Selections: Manayunk and Manatawna: Our Lenape Place Names 2019-09-10 -- Get the picture with special session of Roxborough Manayunk Historical Society 2018-11-17 -- New sign dedicated at Leverington Cemetery in Roxborough 2018-03-14 -- Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society dedicated to preserving the past 2017-11-15 -- NATURAL SELECTIONS: Proposed city council bill — ‘more than just a moratorium’ for Roxborough area 2017-09-20 -- Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society presentation to focus on Schuylkill Navigation 2017-06-28 -- Annual Roxborough Independent Day Parade to step off Tuesday 2017-05-18 -- Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society speaker to discuss new Museum of the American Revolution 2017-04-18 -- Filmmaker to share history documentary with Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society 2016-06-03 -- NATURAL SELECTIONS: Plymouth Meeting struggles with possible loss of piece of history 2015-11-13 -- NATURAL SELECTIONS: Save the Shawmont Station 2015-07-02 -- A Tribute to Samuel Lawson, Founder of the Local Independence Day Parade of Churches and Sunday Schools 2015-05-22 -- NATURAL SELECTIONS: Why is Ridge Avenue there? 2015-04-14 -- Historical Society to discuss Upper Roxborough 2015-03-11 -- Upcoming historical society meeting discusses Civil War 2014-11-07 -- Talking historical homes at the next RMWHS meeting 2014-09-02 -- Talking about Lincoln's relationship 2014-08-19 -- Historical Society receive articles on Mt Vernon Church 2014-07-03 -- A Tribute to Samuel Lawson, Founder of the Local Independence Day Parade of Churches and Sunday Schools 2014-04-16 -- Discussing the famous inventors of Our Town 2014-04-15 -- Save Our History 2014-03-27 -- Historical Society showcases vintage WWI & WWII posters 2012-12-11 -- Judgement on the Bunting House to come by week's end 2012-11-02 -- Spirits abound in Hermit's Glen 2012-09-26 -- UPDATED: Bunting House receives 30-day reprieve from demolition, negotiations on future still continue 2012-09-24 -- UPDATED: Residents want historic building saved from wrecking ball 2012-06-29 -- A history of Our Town's parade 2011-09-01 -- RMWHS releases new book ‘Roxborough’ (Arcadia Press) 2010-09-21 -- Vintage baseball 2010-09-21 -- No namby pamby players: vintage ballists recreate old time baseball 2010-08-13 -- A treasure trove of memories 2010-02-03 -- Thinking first and then acting out : Manayunk-raised artist Claude Clark 2009-11-17 -- A celebration of thanksgiving and history 2009-04-22 -- RMWHS hosts tour of Founders Hall at Girard College 2009-03-18 -- Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society receives a real gem 2009-02-25 -- Celebrating 150 years of God & service 2009-02-18 -- Now accepting applications for ‘Mr. Nick Award ’ to honor RMWHS’ Nicholas G. Myers 2009-02-11 -- Knowledge is for all time essay contest 2008-11-12 -- Historical Society meeting talks sports 2008-07-09 -- A new sign commemorates 1777 Woods Barn massacre 2008-07-06 -- Shawmont Train Station now a city landmark (Register of Historic Places) 2008-03-26 -- 'Liberty or Death' at the RMWHS 2008-02-20 -- 'Knowledge is for all time': Mr. Nick Myers award essay contest returns 2008-01-09 -- Landmark 22 foot Garner Mural moves out 2007-12-05 -- Celebrating 100 years of linking lives 2007-11-21 -- Historical society makes history (RMWHS 40th Anniversary) 2007-11-21 -- David Young speaking at society anniversary meeting 2007-07-04 -- Remembering Wood's Barn : A Revolutionary War Tragedy 2005-11-09 -- A new and improved archive room for RMWHS 2005-07-06 -- Fourth of July is a tradition in Roxborough. 2004-04-21 -- Beauty found at reservoir 2003-05-07 -- Professional musician has done it all 2003-05-01 -- Another disease epidemic is recalled 2003-04-18 -- Young man makes movie on 21st Ward 2001-10-10 -- The Civil War sentinel has returned to cemetery post ​

  • RMWHS | In Memoriam

    In Memoriam ​ We thank the family, friends, and loved ones, who have made an In Memoriam donation to RMWHS for their generosity. The individuals honored by the donors are listed below and have been recorded the In Memoriam remembrance book in the RMWHS Archive. You do not need to be a RMWHS member to be honored or to donate. Donations of any amount are accepted. ​​RMWHS is a 501(c)(3) public charity. ​Funds generated from In Memoriam donations will be put toward preservation, restoration, and/or beautification projects in our neighborhoods. This may include our local cemeteries and war memorials. We thank you for your generosity. ​ Contact us if you wish to honor someone by making an In Memoriam donation . ​ Remember Honor Celebrate Received in 2023 Miriam McCurdy Mary Longaker Keely Everhart Bert Laudenslager* ​ Received in 2022 Jack Fasy Robert & Edith Yarnall* ​ Received in 2021 Paul Walter Russell Ripka Jo Cauffman* Helen Wong Frank & Mary Trimborn Nick Gilbert* ​Ted Lada* Mary Ann & William Buchanan ​ Received in 2020 Robert & Edith Yarnall* ​Harry A. Olson* Wendy Weight ​ *RMWHS Member

  • RMWHS | Meetings & Events

    Meetings & Events ​ Beginning in 2023, the RMWHS calendar will be designed to provide a mix of in-person and Zoom-based meetings, events, tours, activities, etc. The date, time, location, and format of the meeting will vary. ​ This less rigid schedule is a departure from our traditional calendar and will allow us more flexibility to align our activities with community events, venue and speaker availability, museum hours, host organization scheduling, and other opportunities we might otherwise miss. ​ Efforts to live stream in-person events via Zoom and/or record for replay options will be made within reason. Some meetings and events on the schedule will be specifically designed and planned for a Zoom virtual meeting. There are some topics that will better lend themselves to this format like a presentation with photos, videos, or an interactive feature such as surveys, quizzes, or voting. ​ The RMWHS calendar will be posted on this page in the Fall and updated as needed. Additional notices and updates will be directly emailed to all current members. If you wish to get email notifications about RMWHS activities, we'd love to have you as a member. Membership fees are modest and support our ongoing efforts to preserve and promote local history, art, and culture. ​ For more information about the calendar, membership, or if you'd like to speak or present to the group, please contact us. ​ Georgie Gould, President, RM WHS ​ NOTE: A ll in-person meetings currently r equire masks be worn covering nose and mouth at all times to protect our more at-risk members. The mask requirement is RMWHS policy and is not negated by venue rules . Did you miss these? Become a member! July 26, 2023 - Executive Planning Committee Meeting In-Person Meeting at the Roxborough Library May 17, 2023 - Philadelphia Canoe Club In-Person Meeting at PCC +Zoom recording & Replay Private club located in last standing mill on the Wissahickon extended a very rare invite for the chance to come see and learn about the mill and the nonprofit Wissahickon Mill Organization. April 26, 2023 - Textile Historian Jade Papa, Professor & Museum Curator, Thomas Jefferson University Zoom Meeting & Repla y A special peek into the storerooms of the Textile and Costume Collection, housed on Thomas Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia) University’s campus. It included some highlights of the collection’s extensive holdings with particular attention to those that speak to the surrounding neighborhood’s history of textile manufacturing. ​ March 29, 2023 - RMWHS Fundraising Meeting Zoom Meeting & Replay March 15, 2023 - Members Meeting Zoom Meeting & Replay With with so many new members, an introductory virtual meeting provided a background on the group, its focus, and opportunities to get involved. And, as this was the first virtual meeting, it allowed long-time members who had not yet tried Zoom to get a feel for it and hear about the "New Plan" for meetings and activities as well as have a chance to meet new and distant members in a virtual setting. ​ November 16, 2022 - Showcase of N ew Donations In-Person Meeting at Roxborough Library A 25-foot long display of new donations -- including antique and vintage maps, photos, posters, artwork, historic documents/letters/manuscripts, and much, much more -- were on display for members to explore. Items donated spanned from 1702-1956 and some have national appeal and are being considered for a display by the National Parks Service at Valley Forge and Independence Mall. ​

  • RMWHS | Details on Historic Banner Images

    RMWHS Website Images The changing images in the RMWHS website have generated questions -- Who is in that photo? What building is that? When was the photo taken and where? And the most common question: How can I stop the images from changing so I can study them better? ​ To address the questions, the individual images have been provided below with some details and a few links to help you discover more about the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon area. If you have more questions about the images, contact us . Likewise, if you can identify any of the faces in the group shots, please contact us . ​ ​Shawmont Station is the oldest surviving passenger train station in America. ​ Built in the 18 20s , the building became a train station a decade later and was in use until 1991 and was whistle stop until 1995. In 2008, Shawmont was placed on Philadelphia's Register of Historic Places, as the oldest passenger railroad station in America. Owned by SEPTA, the unused building fell further into disrepair until January 2023 when $1.2M of structural renovations began. ​ For more see the Shawmont Station historic profile in our Local Landmarks section. ​Valley Green Inn , built in 1850, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the area as photos of it grace many local interest and travel sites. Originally it was named Edward Rinker's Temperance Tavern after the man who built it in 1850. Today, Valley Green is one of the last remaining roadhouses and taverns that had once dotted the banks of the Wissahickon in the 19th Century. ​ Pencoyd Iron Works 1884 - This photo was donated by the family of George Maurice Miller (Miller is standing on far left in a short hat with beard and mustache). ​ Born in 1864, Miller graduated from Lehigh University at the age of 16 in 1880. He was approximately 20 years old in this photograph. Miller was said to have been a very hard worker. ​ On November 14, 1900, he purchased the building near the intersection of Ridge, Righter & Hermit from the Adams family to live in. The house had formerly served as a City Poor House. This image of the ​Schuylkill Bridge was taken during construction in May 1925. It is one image in a series currently on display in the RMWHS Archive. ​ Other photos in the series include the stripping beam forms, removing the centers, the underside of the bridge, and a group shot of the construction crew and other team members. The crew shot is a particular favorite of visitors to the Archive for the clarity of the image, range of expressions, and the playfulness of one prankster in the group. The Rag Girls at Hamilton Paper Mill were responsible for sorting old clothing, sailcloth, ropes and other bits of discarded fibrous materials that were used in the production of paper. The sorting of these "rags" directly determined the type and quality of paper that was made in any given batch. It was a dirty and sometimes dangerous job as the materials sorted could carry germs, disease, and pests. ​ Can you identify anyone in this photo? If so, please let us know. This Restaurant was located at 4147-49 Main Street Manayunk which became the New Umbria Baptist Church following the church's move from Umbria to Main Street several decades ago. While the brick front was refaced with white stucco long ago, the distinct arched window and door openings remain to this day as does the keystone accent featured at the top of each rounded arch. ​ The Roxborough Reservoir Preserve (formerly Upper Roxborough Water Reservoir) on Port Royal and Lare provided this most tranquil view in March 2020. The 35-acre water basin was created in the 1880s to supply water to the growing Roxborough population but today is a nature preserve and part of our city's park system. A trail circles the preserve and is enjoyed regularly by walkers, bikers, birdwatchers, and photographers alike. ​ To learn more about the history and the transformation, see the RDC's 2019 news story: Roxborough Reservoir Preserve is One of Philadelphia’s Hidden Gems . ​This image of the Main Street Market in Manayunk is dated to the 1920s as was determined by the bags of salt located behind the clerk. This particular brand only used that label in the early 1920s. Little else is known about this market, the clerk, or the reason he posed for the photo. ​ Like the image below, the section shown here accounts for less than 1/4 of the original photograph. It was cropped tightly on the clerk and counter to allow us to show the detail of the scan. The full-size scan allowed archivists to study the products on the shelves and estimate the date the image was taken. ​Chas. E. Lentz Garage was located at 6655 Ridge Avenue. This image is only a small part of the original photo and accounts for about 1/4th of the overall image. The full photo shows cars parked along Ridge Ave on the left. And to the right, much of the house is visible. However, like the photo above, the the drastic cropping of the original image was necessary to highlight the details. In fact, the scan of this image is such a high quality, the bolts on the wheels are visible when it is viewed at full size. ​The William Levering School was built as a one room school house in 1748 and named for the man who donated the land. The first school was built of logs and was used not only for a school, but also for a church and political meetings. The school expanded and was rebuilt a number of times, but William Levering School was finally closed in 2013, after 265 years of educating the children of our community. ​ Can you identify anyone in this photo? If so, please let us know. We appreciate your feedback. Contact us.

  • RMWHS | Contact Us

    June 1 - August 31 Summer Hours and Vacations have our volunteers available on a limited basis. ​ If your message is time sensitive -- put "URGENT" in the subject line. We will do our best to expedite a response. ​ Thank you and have a safe and happy summer! CONTACT US We welcome your questions, suggestions, ideas, and feedback. Research Notice RMWHS may be able to provide the answer to a specific question or identify/recommend resources (books, maps, city records, genealogies, etc.) that could be of aid to you. However, we cannot take on large research projects for you. ​ GENERAL QUESTIONS - You must ask a specific questions. Examples are: When did the Manayunk Club burn down? Where was the Indian Hotel located? Do you have any info on the unusual symbols used by Kelpius and the monks? Do you know of any reports of Roxborough being hit by a Tornado? VITAL RECORDS - We don't have a registry of vital records or a computer database to search -- we recommend or for these . (These are also good for census and military records.) BURIAL LOCATIONS - Always check www.findagrave .com first for burial. If you can't find info on someone you believe to be buried in either the Leverington Cemetery or the Roxborough Baptist Burial Ground, our archivists might be able to help. Be sure to include all relevant details to identify that individual ( full first-middle-last name, date of birth, date of death, spouse's name). We don't need or want the entire tree -- it will slow us down if you overwhelm us with too much. FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH - We cannot research everyone in your family tree. Pick a key individual, married couple, siblings, etc. as the focus of your inquiry. Provide the full name(s), date of birth, date of death, and any details you have that will help. Ensure your question is concise, clear, and complete. For example: My grandfather Bernard Clack graduated from RHS in 1952 -- do you have the 1952 RHS yearbook or any RHS class photos for 1950-1952? He might show up in a baseball photo. Privacy & Use - Your personal information will be protected in accordance with the RMWHS Privacy Policy. However, the research done by our volunteer archivists/genealogists is property of RMWHS and may be shared/discussed with other RMWHS members, visiting students, researchers, etc., at the discretion of RMWHS archivists/genealogists. ​ Credit, Citation, & Copyright - You may also share/discuss the results of the research RMWHS provides but any credits, citations, and/or copyright notes on any materials we provided to you must remain including third-party citations. Contact us if you have questions. ​ Donations - Donations for our efforts are very appreciated. Our volunteers work without pay and all monies donated will be used for continued preservation of the Archive and expanding/enhancing our efforts to share our history with the community. ​ RMWHS and its archivists reserve the right to decline any requests that would unduly tax our volunteers' time or are beyond the scope of RMWHS focus and resources. ​ We will not share your personal contact information beyond the RMWHS team member or fulfillment partner that needs to address your inquiry or research request. RMWHS Privacy Policy. Select all that apply: This is feedback only - no response is necessary. Please send me membership info. Please contact me about making a donation. I would like research assistance. I have read the Research Notice and accept the terms. Submit Thank you for your interest in the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Early 19th Century

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Early 19th Century Despite the explosive growth in Manayunk in the first half of the nineteenth century, Roxborough remained during these decades a linear village along Ridge Road with an economy based largely on agriculture and milling. However, many Roxborough farms were diversifying, supplementing their incomes with stone quarrying, lumbering, and other commercial activities. Real estate advertisements offer a window into activities in Roxborough. In 1836, a 40-acre property near the six-mile stone on Ridge Road was offered for sale. It included a three-story stone house, a stone barn with stabling for four horses and 12 cows, a grain house, cart house, poultry house, hog house, corn house, two apple orchards, and a “kitchen garden, well set with Strawberries, Raspberries, &c. [from which] 170 quarts have been picked in one day.” The property included several acres of timber and “quarries of excellent turnpike stone.”66 In 1839, “a valuable small farm,” a 57.5-acre property on “the Philadelphia and Norristown turnpike road” at the western edge of Roxborough Township, was offered for sale. It included a stone dwelling, “a good large barn with stabling sufficient for eight cows and four horses,” an apple orchard, three springs, and land “in a good state of cultivation and all under good fence.” The property also included “3 acres of good young thriving timber” and “a good Stone Shop, formerly occupied as a Weaver Shop.”67 Also in 1839, a 33-acre farm, “situate on the Ridge Turnpike Road, in Roxborough township, nearly opposite the Sorrel Horse Tavern,” was offered at public sale. The advertisement declared that the “land is in a good state of cultivation and has a body of valuable timber.”68 Hinting at changes, an 1844 advertisement offered a 22-acre farm in Roxborough Township “on a public road leading from Ridge pike to Flat Rock Bridge and Manayunk,” that, in addition to the usual stone house, barn, and spring house, included “a stream of water running through the Farm, sufficient for steam machinery.”69 At about the same time that the farm was advertised with a water source sufficient for steam machinery, omnibus lines connecting Roxborough and the City of Philadelphia with reliable, relatively inexpensive, daily transportation were initiated.70 A line was established in 1840 with omnibus service every day but Sunday leaving Amy’s Hotel in Roxborough at 8:30 a.m. and returning to Roxborough from the Black Bear Inn on S. 5th Street near Market Street at 3:30 p.m. The fare was 20 cents (Figure 26).71 A line was established in 1842 with omnibus service leaving the Sorrel Horse Inn in Roxborough for the City of Philadelphia via Wissahickon, Falls of Schuylkill, and Laurel Hill at 6:30 a.m. and returning to Roxborough from the Merchants’ Exchange at 3rd and Walnut Streets at 1:45 p.m. The fare to Roxborough was 25 cents.72 While the first of the two omnibus lines was named the Farmers’ Line, its primary customers would not have been farmers, who carted their fruits, vegetables, and meats to market in wagons. Instead, the riders would have been a new breed of Roxborough residents who had frequent and sometimes daily business in the city. While the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad had facilitated commuting from Manayunk and the lowest reaches of Ridge Road to the City of Philadelphia as early as the mid 1830s, the omnibus lines of the early 1840s opened up all of Roxborough to commuting.73 Describe your image The introduction of the omnibus lines on Ridge Road in the early 1840s indicated that Roxborough, which had been a farming and milling community for nearly 150 years, was transitioning. As early as 1839, the beginnings of suburbanization were evident in Roxborough. That year, Charles Jones and T. Mason Mitchell advertised development lots for sale on Green Lane, just off Ridge Road, that were measured in square feet, not acres. The 50-foot wide lots, which were between 150 and 250 feet deep, were promoted as having attractive views, a healthful environment, convenient to the railroad and turnpike, and in the proximity of several churches and the Village of Manayunk. The advertisement promised: “The Lots will, when built upon, be sufficiently large for handsome gardens attached to each. This, on viewing the neighborhood, will prove a desirable and safe investment to many persons, either for summer or permanent residences.”74 The advertisement made no mention of barns, meadows, fruit trees, spring houses, or other farm accoutrements. The development lots on Green Lane were intended for commuters, who walked to Manayunk or took the train or omnibus to the city. They may have been the first suburban housing lots laid out in Roxborough Township. Although the omnibus lines and suburban house lots portended changes coming to Roxborough, Charles Ellet’s Map of the County of Philadelphia from Actual Survey of 1843 indicates that Roxborough remained a linear village running along Ridge Road (Figure 27). The map clearly shows that, outside of densely developed Manayunk, Roxborough Township was sparsely populated with few roads running east and west off the main spine. The Ellet map of 1843 identifies the main commercial and institutional sites in Roxborough. It depicts four inns, all on Ridge Road: the Leverington Hotel near Green Lane, Roxborough Hotel at Gorgas Lane, Buttonwood Tavern at Livezey’s Mill Lane, and Sorrel Horse Tavern above Ship Lane. The 1843 map depicts three manufacturing facilities associated with the textile industry: the Gorgas Cotton Factory on Gorgas Lane at the Wissahickon Creek; Haley's Dye Works on Gorgas Lane; and Rees' Print Works on Eliza's Lane. The map calls out five mills along or near the Wissahickon: Wise’s Mill and Livezey’s Mill on the upper Wissahickon; a spice mill and the Rittenhouse Paper Mill at the confluence of the Wissahickon with Paper Mill Run; and Robinson's (misspelling of Robeson’s) Mill on the Wissahickon at the crossing of the Ridge Road. The map notes the Roxborough Poorhouse in the Old Plow Tavern on Ridge Road below Shur's Lane. It calls out the Baptist Church as well as the German Reformed Church at Ship Lane. The German or Dutch Reformed Church was founded in 1835 and transitioned to the Roxborough Presbyterian Church in 1854. The map identified a schoolhouse at the intersection of Wise’s Mill Road and Livezey’s Mill Lane. The school, known as the Heiss or Yellow School House, was established in 1812. The map called out the hall of the Roxborough Masonic Lodge, No. 135, located on Ridge Road at Shur's Lane. The fraternal organization had been founded in 1813.75 An 1851 inventory of tax-exempt property in Philadelphia County listed all such properties in Roxborough, again portraying the rural area as sparsely populated. The 1851 inventory included the Roxborough Baptist Church and Burial Ground, Dutch Reformed Burial Ground, Lutheran Church, a volunteer fire brigade called the Good Intent Engine Company, the poorhouse or almshouse, three schoolhouses, and two tollhouses associated with the Ridge Road Turnpike.76 Like Ellet’s map of 1843, John Levering’s Plan of the Township of Roxborough of 1848 depicts Roxborough as a linear village along Ridge Avenue, but also shows the very beginnings of suburban development along Green Lane as well as High Street (Lyceum Avenue).77 Houses on relatively small lots on a grid of streets first appear in Roxborough on the 1848 map. Suburban development was occurring along Ridge Avenue as well, especially in the lower section near the Wissahickon railroad station and other transportation options. For example, in 1850, a real estate advertisement offering a property at the corner of Ridge and Hermit Lane (now 559 Righter Street) extolled its easy access to transportation. “The situation is high and healthy, with a daily communication to and from the city, by Stages passing the door, or by Omnibuses connecting the Railroad at Wissahickon Railroad Bridge, and half a mile therefrom, and within half a mile of the Manayunk Steamboat Landing, affording an hourly conveyance to of from the city—thereby making it a desirable private Country Residence, or for a man of business, whose location is in the city.”78 While men of business may have commuted to Manayunk for managerial positions in the mills as early as the early 1840s, by 1850, men of business were living in Roxborough and commuting to the business center in the heart of Philadelphia. Describe your image As Roxborough began its transition in the 1840s from a farming and milling community to a suburb for the industrial area flourishing at nearby Manayunk, several institutions were established to support the growing population. In 1841, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Roxborough Lodge, No. 66, was established. The fraternal organization erected a hall at the northwest corner of Ridge and Lyceum. The Roxborough Lyceum, an educational organization that housed a consortium of libraries, was chartered in 1854 and erected a building on Ridge across from the Odd Fellows Hall in 1856. The Lyceum became the Roxborough Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia in 1896. The German Lutheran Church was established in 1845 at Pechin and Martin Streets, on the boundary of Manayunk and Roxborough. The current church at the site dates to 1902. The Ridge Avenue Methodist Church was established in 1847. The first Methodist services were held in Yellow School House, before a church building was erected at Ridge and Shawmont. St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church was established in 1859 and a large church complex on Ridge near Shur's Lane was begun in 1862, when the sanctuary cornerstone was laid. The Church was consecrated 1863 and a tower added in 1871. The church was enlarged and a parish building constructed in 1874. The church was enlarged again in 1885 (Figure 32). Farther to the north, St. Alban's Episcopal Church was established in 1859 and a church building was erected on Fairthorne, just off Ridge, in 1861. In 1854, the City and County of Philadelphia were consolidated, ending more than a century and a half of independent government in Roxborough Township and incorporating the emerging suburb into the City of Philadelphia. With the consolidation, the newly annexed portions of Philadelphia were divided into wards. Roxborough comprised part of the 21st Ward, which included Roxborough, Manayunk, and Penn Township (East Falls and Allegheny West). In 1860, the 21st Ward had a population of 17,159. Samuel Smedley’s Atlas of the City of Philadelphia of 1862 shows that during the decade leading up to the Civil War, Leverington had emerged as a neighborhood in its own right within Roxborough, with twelve blocks of suburban development bounded by Ridge, Krams, Manayunk, and Martin on the west side of Ridge and more subdivision and construction along Leverington on the east Ridge (Figure 28).79 Describe your image This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 66 Public Ledger, 3 December 1836, p. 3. 67 Public Ledger, 19 January 1839, p. 4. 68 Public Ledger, 30 October 1839, p. 4. 69 Public Ledger, 24 December 1844, p. 4. 70 Stagecoaches had traveled Ridge Road since the eighteenth century. For example, in 1834, a stagecoach line ran regular service between the City of Philadelphia and Norristown, leaving the City at 3:00 p.m. daily and arriving in Norristown “early the same evening,” and leaving Norristown for the City at 7:00 a.m. An announcement of the line noted that “Passengers will be taken up and set down in any part of Philadelphia or Norristown.” Philadelphia As It Is (Philadelphia: P.J. Gray, 1834), p. 125. 71 Public Ledger, 14 November 1840, p. 3. 72 Public Ledger, 7 July 1842, p. 3. 73 Competing with the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad for commuters to Manayunk, J.W. Funck offered a combination rail and boat service to Manayunk as early as 1848. He operated railroad passenger cars from 3rd and Willow Streets to Fairmount, where passengers connected with a steamboat to Laurel Hill and Manayunk. The service ran at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. and then every 30 minutes from 1:30 p.m. through the afternoon. See Public Ledger, 21 June 1848, p. 4. 74 Public Ledger, 24 April 1839, p. 1. 75 Horace H. Platten and William Lawton, The History of the Roxborough Masonic Lodge, No. 135 (Philadelphia: The Centennial Committee of the Roxborough Masonic Lodge, No. 135, 1913). 76 Elihud Tarr, Memorial of the Commissioners of the County of Philadelphia to the Legislature upon the Subject of the Laws Exempting Certain Property from Taxation, Together with a Schedule of Exempt Property (Philadelphia: The County Commissioners, 1851). 77 John Levering, Plan of the Township of Roxborough with the property holders' names &c. Manayunk, published by M. Dripps, 1848. 78 Public Ledger, 26 July 1850, p. 4. 79 Samuel L. Smedley, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1862). Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Boundary and Description

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Boundary and Description Boundary Description The Ridge Avenue Roxborough Thematic Historic District is comprised of 188 tax parcels, each of which is defined by metes and bounds description in its deed. A list of the 188 tax parcels comprising the district can be found in the district inventory. Description Topography The northwestern section of Philadelphia including Roxborough is located in a geological region known as the Piedmont Upland Section of the Piedmont Province. The bedrock in Roxborough is primarily mica schist but becomes trap rock with veins of serpentine stone at the northwest along the Montgomery County line (Figure 1). 1 Roxborough is located on a steep ridge formed by the Wissahickon Creek to the east and the Schuylkill River to the west. The ridge runs from the confluence of the Schuylkill and Wissahickon at East Falls or the Falls of the Schuylkill northwest for approximately five miles, where it crosses into Montgomery County. Historically, streams drained the land on the ridge, running east to the Wissahickon and west to the Schuylkill. Most of the streams have been culverted. Ridge Avenue, the primary thoroughfare in Roxborough, leaves East Falls at the confluence of the Schuylkill River and the Wissahickon Creek, runs up a steep slope more than 200 vertical feet to the top of the ridge, and then along the ridge to the northwest into Montgomery County. The section of Ridge Avenue between the Wissahickon Creek and the Montgomery County line is approximately five miles in length. The highest point along Ridge Avenue is approximately 420 feet above sea level, in the stretch between Cathedral Road and Manatawna Avenue. Built Environment The area along and around Ridge Avenue in Roxborough between the Wissahickon Creek and the Montgomery County line is primarily a residential corridor with a commercial core from Martin Street to Hermitage Street and several traditional, shopping center, and strip mall commercial developments scattered throughout (Figure 2). Most buildings are detached and semi-detached, but some are row buildings. With the exception of a few institutional buildings, nearly all structures along the corridor are three stories or shorter. The residential buildings are both single and multi-family. Most, but not all, properties include some green space. Ridge Avenue is a major, two-lane thoroughfare for most of its length in Roxborough, but expands to six lanes west of the intersection with Henry Avenue. Most of the buildings included in the Ridge Avenue Roxborough Thematic Historic District were historically and are currently used for residential purposes. Many of the others are commercial or mixed-use commercial and residential. The district includes five churches, some with cemeteries, one stand-alone cemetery, one public park, one school building and one former school building, and several institutional buildings (Figure 3). Describe your image This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 1 Charles Edward Hall, The Geology of Philadelphia County and of the Southern Parts of Montgomery and Bucks (Harrisburg: The Board of Commissioners for the Second Geological Survey, 1881). Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Queen Anne Architecture

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Queen Anne Architecture The Queen Anne style was the dominant style of domestic building in the United States from about 1880 to 1900; and persisted with decreasing popularity through the first decade of the twentieth century. The style was named and popularized by a group of nineteenth-century English architects led by Richard Norman Shaw. The name is rather inappropriate, for the historical precedents used by Shaw and his followers had little to do with Queen Anne or the formal Renaissance architecture that was dominant during her reign between 1702 and 1714. Instead, they borrowed heavily from late medieval models of the preceding Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. The half-timbered Watts-Sherman House built in Newport Rhode Island in 1874 is generally considered to be the first American example of the style. A few high-style examples followed in the 1870s and, by the 1880s, the style was being spread throughout the country by pattern books and one of the first architectural magazines, The American Architect and Building News. Large-scale manufacture of pre-cut architectural details and the expanding railroad network by which they were shipped aided in the growth and popularization of the style. 108 ​ Queen Anne buildings are generally comprised of multiple, intersecting volumes, resulting in more complex forms than their predecessors. These asymmetrical, complex forms are created by combining various volumes including cross gables, engaged towers and turrets, steeply pitched roofs with irregular shapes, and bay windows. Queen Anne buildings often include decorative brick or stonework, ornate gable detailing, shaped slate or wood shingle patterning, large porches with complex woodwork, multi-paned windows with clear and colored glass. ​ The twin buildings at 6222 and 6224 Ridge Avenue, which date to about 1885, are excellent examples of the Queen Anne style as applied to semidetached buildings and have some detailing that might be better classified as the Stick style, a variant or close relative to Queen Anne (Figure 37). The three-story buildings are stone at the first floor, and fish-scale shingles at the second floor and mansard. The shingles create a vibrant pattern of light and shadow. The dormers in the mansard have highly unusual hoods or crowns supported by large brackets. The cornice is also supported by brackets and features fish scales. The second-floor windows are double hungs with small and large panes in the upper sash. The porch has turned posts with arched latticework panels between them. Other buildings in the saw-tooth row of twins also have Queen Anne features, but none characterize the Queen Anne style with the exuberance of those at 6222 and 6224 Ridge Avenue. Describe your image The house at 5535 Ridge Avenue, with its corner turret topped by a conical cap and finial, is another good example of the Queen Anne style. In addition to the turret, the mansard roof, bracketed dormers, and wrap-around porch all characterize the style. The house at 6904 Ridge Avenue is likewise an example of the Queen Anne style, owing to its turret, oversized dormer, and wrap-around porch. This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 108 Drawn from Virginia & Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), p. 262-268. Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Federal Architecture

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Federal Architecture The Federal style of architecture, which emerged after the Revolutionary War, is closely related to the earlier Georgian or Colonial style, but Federal buildings are lighter and more delicate than their predecessors, which were generally weighty with stout detailing. Like the earlier houses, Federal houses are generally side-gabled, two-story, symmetrical boxes. Wissahickon schist remained the predominant building material, but the stone was sometimes faced with stucco. The Federal style was employed in Roxborough Township from the 1780s through the 1820s. ​ The Levering-Jones House at 6341 Ridge Avenue, which also served for a short time as the General Washington Tavern, is an excellent example of the Federal style (Figure 20). Built about 1796 by William and Martha Levering, the house was converted to a tavern in the early nineteenth century. It was later converted back to a residence and was the boyhood home of prominent historian Horatio Gates Jones Jr. The house was restored to its original appearance in the twentieth century. Its side-gable, symmetrical façade, pedimented door surround, and pedimented dormers with Gothic windows are all hallmarks of the Federal style. ​ The Starne-Smick House at 7552 Ridge Avenue, built about 1795, is another good example of a Federal style house in Roxborough. Although without the high-style embellishments of the Levering-Jones House, the Starne-Smick is a large, well-preserved, significant example of the style. The Joseph Ozias House of 1811 at 7953 Ridge Avenue is another example of a well-preserved Federal style house. The cut-stone front façade with quoins at the corners is an interesting feature of this otherwise modest residence. Describe your image This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Native Americans

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Native Americans Prior to the European settlement, Native Americans from the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Nation inhabited the area that the settlers named Roxborough. A Native American trail predating William Penn and his establishment of Pennsylvania, known as the Perkiomen Path, ran along the line of what is today Ridge Avenue. The Perkiomen Path connected the area around the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers where Penn later established Philadelphia with the Native American village at Manatawny, now Pottstown, and lands farther to the west. Like Ridge Avenue, the trail ran up from the Falls of the Schuylkill, along the ridge rising between the valleys of the Schuylkill River and the Wissahickon Creek, and into what is now Montgomery County. 2 Through his surveyor Thomas Holme, William Penn purchased the land between the Schuylkill River and Pennypack Creek, including the area that would become Roxborough, from a group of Lenni Lenape leaders in July 1684 (Figure 4). Although Swedes and other Europeans had settled in the Delaware Valley in the mid seventeenth century, it does not appear that any Europeans had established permanent settlements in the Roxborough area prior to the 1684 purchase. Describe your image This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 2 Paul A. W. Wallace, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1965; reprinted, 1998), p. 127-128. Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Ridge Road

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Ridge Road In 1686, before Europeans settled Roxborough, Mary Farmar, the widow of Major Jasper Farmar, discovered large deposits of lime on her 5,000-acre estate in Plymouth Township, Montgomery County. In 1687, the residents of Plymouth Township petitioned the Court of the Quarter Sessions to lay out a roadway from Philadelphia to the Township to transport the lime, which was valuable as a building material, especially in a city where brick construction would become predominant. The residents of Plymouth Township again petitioned the Court of the Quarter Sessions “to grant them a common Cartway or Road to extend from Wissahickon Mills [where the Wissahickon flowed into the Schuylkill] up into the Perkioming Creek” [in Collegeville] in March 1706. That same year, surveyor Thomas Fairman certified that he had laid out the road as ordered by the Court. In June 1706, the Court directed Fairman to survey the road leading from the City of Philadelphia at 6th and Sassafras (Arch) Streets to Wissahickon Mills so that it could be confirmed. In 1707, Fairman reported to the Court that he had surveyed the road, which had existed but had not been confirmed. In 1709, the road was extended from Collegeville west to Manatawny (Pottstown). Ridge Avenue was known by many names during its first century including the Great Road, King’s Road, Wissahiccon Road, Plymouth Road, Manatawny Road, and Reading Road. Describe your image At several points during the eighteenth century, in 1723, 1753, 1786, and 1797, the route of the Ridge Road from the western bank of the Wissahickon to the top of the ridge, where Ridge, Righter, and Hermit intersect today, was shifted to ease travel up the steep hill. By the end of the eighteenth century, this section of the Ridge Road was established on its current line (Figure 9). 20 Describe your image To help orient travelers, milestones marking the distance from the City of Philadelphia were placed along Ridge Road in the middle of the eighteenth century. On 12 August 1768, Jacob Hiltzheimer noted in his diary that he “Went up the Wissahockon Road to set milestones.” 21 A Plan of the City of Philadelphia and Environs Surveyed by John Hills of 1808 identifies the locations of some of the milestones along Ridge Road. The Milestone 6 was located immediately west of the bridge across the Wissahickon. Milestone 7 was located near the intersection with Rittenhouse Lane, now Walnut Lane. Milestone 8 was located near the current intersection on Ridge Avenue and Gates Street. Milestones 9, 10, and 11 were not depicted on the map, but would have been located west of Domino Lane, at Port Royal Avenue, and at the Montgomery County line, respectively. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the milestones on Ridge Road were used like addresses. For example, in 1837, the National Gazette advertised a farm for rent “on the Ridge road, near the eight mile stone… The location of this property is on the most elevated part of Roxborough, and for salubrity and fertility cannot be excelled by any in the vicinity of the city.” 22 In 1841, John Parker and David Millar offered a $2 reward for “a brown COW, some white on her forehead with large horns,” which had strayed away “in Roxborough township, Ridge Road, near the seven mile stone.” 23 Ridge Road was an important trade route, providing access to the interior of Pennsylvania and beyond. Freight was hauled in Conestoga wagons (Figure 10). James Logan, secretary to William Penn, appears to have coined the term Conestoga wagon in 1717. Logan ran freight wagons between Philadelphia and the Conestoga Valley in Lancaster County. In 1787, Benjamin Rush described the Conestoga wagon as "a large strong waggon covered with linen cloth is an essential part of the furniture of a German farm. It is pulled by four or five large horses of a particular breed, and will carry 2000 to 3000 pounds." The Conestoga wagon’s curved shape prevented cargo from shifting as it traversed rough terrain. The large, broad wheels allowed the wagon to maneuver in ruts and mud. Rush noted that, during the fall harvest season, "on the road between Philadelphia and the Valley you'll see 50 to 100 [Conestoga wagons] a day." Wagon traffic was significant. More than 10,000 wagons made the trip to Philadelphia annually by 1775. Convoys sometimes included as many as 100 wagons on a single train. As historian David McCullough has noted: the crowds and noise [in the center of eighteenth-century Philadelphia] seemed overwhelming … on market days, Wednesdays and Saturdays, when German-speaking country people came rolling into town in huge farm wagons loaded with produce, live chickens, pigs, and cattle. The “thundering of coaches, chariots, chaises, wagons, drays, and the whole fraternity of noise almost continually assails our ears,” complained a visiting physician. [Continental Congress] delegate Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island counted one day seventy farm wagons on Market Street. 24 Describe your image As the population expanded westward, Conestoga wagons leaving Philadelphia took one of three main routes: over the Appalachian Mountains to Pittsburgh where the freight was then shipped downriver into the Ohio Valley; along the National Road connecting Baltimore and Frederick, Maryland with Wheeling, West Virginia and eventually to Vandalia, Illinois by 1852; and down the Great Wagon Road through the valley of Virginia into North Carolina. Wagoners with horse-drawn Conestoga wagons carried supplies and finished goods westward on three-to four-week journeys and returned with flour, whiskey, tobacco, and other products. In addition to the long-distance trade, wagoners moved cargo locally and regionally, hauling agricultural products, lumber and other building materials, and various other goods. Shipping companies, like Philadelphia’s Inland Transportation Office, hauled “Goods, Mdze. &c., by waggons to … Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Lancaster, and all other parts of the Western Country” (Figure 11). 25 As one witness reminisced: When Conestoga wagons roamed the highways of Pennsylvania before freight trains appeared, Ridge road was the direct route to and from that astonishingly fat region, the Schuylkill Valley. From Berks, Lebanon, and Montgomery poured an endless string of Conestogas, hauled by great horses -- often four to a team. Down that valley poured the output of America’s first iron works. At certain seasons Ridge road was white with lime wagons from the kilns about Bridgeport. Indeed, a great part of the city’s bread and butter flowed down the Ridge. 26 Describe your image Inns and taverns along Ridge Road provided food and shelter for travelers. The first, the Leverington Hotel, was erected in 1731 at what is now the southeast corner of Ridge Ave. and Leverington Street. It was demolished by real estate mogul Albert M. Greenfield in 1925. 27 Located at the top of the steep hill at the eastern edge of the ridge, where Ridge, Hermit, and Righter intersect today, the Plough Tavern was constructed in 1746. After housing travelers on the Ridge Road, the building was used for many purposes including as an almshouse and church. It was abandoned in 1925 and demolished in 1937. 28 The Sorrel Horse Tavern, located on Ridge Road above Port Royal, was erected in 1785. When it sold in 1867, the “valuable hotel property, known as the ‘Old Sorrel Horse Tavern’” was described as “a 2½-story stone house, 4 rooms and a large hall on the first floor, 4 rooms on second floor, and 3 rooms on third floor; a large stone barn, stabling and shedding sufficient to accommodate 30 to 40 horses, ice house, and 3 wells of never-failing water.” 29 In 1878, the Sorrel Horse Inn was described as “once famous, but now empty.” 30 The tavern was used by the Roxborough Passenger Railway Company, but eventually demolished. During the eighteenth century, Ridge Road was poorly maintained and passage could be difficult, as is evidenced by this account by the Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt: On the twentieth of April [1795] Mr. Guillemard, Caleb Lownes, and myself, set out on horseback from Philadelphia, through Ridge Road, on our way to Norris Town. This road, like all the public roads in Pennsylvania, is very bad, for provision is brought to that city from all parts in large and heavy laden wagons. The constant passage of these wagons destroys the roads, especially near the town, where several of them meet. Ridge Road is almost impassible. 31 In response to the poor travel conditions, the Ridge Turnpike Company was founded to improve Ridge Road (Figure 12). Chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 30 March 1811, the company was authorized to sell 1,500 shares of stock at $50 per share and to build a macadamized road, not less than 40 feet, nor more than 60 feet in width, from the intersection of 10th and Vine Streets at the edge of the City of Philadelphia to the bridge over the Perkiomen in Montgomery County. The Company was also responsible for all of the road’s maintenance and repairs. 32 Construction of the 23½-mile road was completed in 1816 at a cost of $7,500 per mile. The Ridge Turnpike was never profitable, in part because of the competition of the nearby Germantown Turnpike, which also led to the Perkiomen Bridge, and in part because teamsters avoided the steep grade up the ridge to the west of the bridge over the Wissahickon. In 1825, the Ridge Turnpike Company collected about $10,000 in tolls, but faced about $10,000 in expenses. That year, the company paid no dividends and carried about $140,000 in debt. 33 The numbers of Conestoga wagons in the United States increased year after year until the 1830s, when canals began competing with them for freight hauling. In the east, railroads replaced Conestoga wagons and canals by the 1850s. However, the prairie schooner, a lightweight, flat variant of the Conestoga wagon, carried pioneer settlers from Missouri to the West Coast. And the Conestoga wagon remained in use on farms in Pennsylvania well into the twentieth century (Figure 13). Describe your image This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 20 See Joseph S. Miles and William H. Cooper, A Historical Sketch of Roxborough, Manayunk, Wissahickon (Philadelphia: G. Fein & Co., 1940). P. 17-19. 21 Joshua L. Bailey Jr., “Old Milestones about Philadelphia, Illustrated,” Bulletin of the Friends’ Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 9, no. 2, November 1919, p. 46-62; Jacob Cox Parsons, ed., Extracts from the Diary of Jacob Hiltzheimer: Of Philadelphia. 1765-1798 (Philadelphia: Wm. F. Fell & Co., 1893), p. 15. 22 The National Gazette, 2 February 1837, p. 3. 23 Public Ledger, 27 September 1841, p. 3. 24 David McCullough, American History E-book Set (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), n.p. 25 See, for example, advertisements for the Inland Transportation Office, National Gazette, 27 December 1823, p. 2; National Gazette, 9 January 1824, p. 3. 26 Inquirer, 9 April 1929, p. 10. 27 “Northwest Expect Realty Boom Soon,” Inquirer, 19 July 1925, p. 55. 28 “Famed Inn Must Go,” Inquirer, 25 October 1937, p. 17. 29 Inquirer, 30 October 1867, p. 8. 30 “An Old Tony Weller: The Tales He Tells of the Coaching Days of Yore, The Times, 3 May 1878, p. 1. 31 Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Travels through the United States of North America, the Country of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, with an Authentic Account of Lower Canada (London, 1797), vol. 1, p. 2-3. 32 “Ridge Avenue Passenger Railway Company v. City of Philadelphia,” July 15, 1897, The Atlantic Reporter 37 (May 5-August 25, 1897): 910. 33 Donald C. Jackson, “Turnpikes in Southeastern Pennsylvania,” in Judith A. McGaw, ed., Early American Technology: Making and Doing Things From the Colonial Era to 1850 (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994), p. 232-233. Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | During and After the Civil War

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District During and After the Civil War During the Civil War, manufacturing generally and textile manufacturing specifically flourished in Manayunk and throughout Philadelphia, creating great wealth and effecting great change. “In Philadelphia, which was perhaps the largest center of manufacturing in the country, 58 new factories were erected in 1862, 57 in 1863, and 65 in 1864; and the building inspectors reported that those erected in the last-named year were generally very large.”84 In Manayunk, for example, Sevill Schofield’s carpet and yarn mill, which made blankets for the Union Army during the Civil War, employed 32 and was capitalized at $15,000 in 1860, but, by 1870, employed 314 and was capitalized at $200,000.85 As industrial Manayunk burgeoned, the managerial class, which ran the mills, pushed up the ridge into Roxborough, building their residences beyond the dirt and noise of the factories and the crowded rowhouses of the millworkers. As the mills expanded, traffic between the city and northwest Philadelphia increased. The section of Ridge Road running through North Philadelphia, just outside the downtown, began to be called Ridge Avenue in the 1850s. By the 1860s, the name Ridge Avenue began to be used in Roxborough. An advertisement in the Inquirer in July 1861 for “Country Boarding at Roxborough … for the Summer, in a private family, on Ridge avenue, above the sixth mile stone” may be the first use of the name in print to refer to the section of the road in Roxborough.86 The Ridge Avenue passenger railway line was started in 1858 and became fully operational the next year. It ran from Arch Street at N. 2nd Street to Manayunk by way of Ridge Avenue. The Ridge Avenue Passenger Railway Company was on formed 8 March 1872 by the consolidation of the Girard College Passenger Railway Company, which was incorporated in 1858, and the Ridge Avenue & Manayunk Passenger Railway Company, which was incorporated in 1859. Under a proviso in the charter of the Ridge Avenue Passenger Railway Company of 1872, the railway company purchased the Ridge Turnpike Company for $15,000. Subsequently, the Court of Quarter Sessions freed the turnpike from toll, signifying that the thoroughfare was transitioning from a country road into a city street.87 The Roxborough Passenger Railway Company was chartered on 15 April 1869, granting it the right to construct a trolley system from the Wissahickon Station on the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad line to the Sorrel Horse Tavern north of Port Royal or Ship Lane. Train travel to northwest Philadelphia increased as well. In 1847, 69,443 passengers passed through the Wissahickon and Manayunk stations of the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad. By 1860, the annual ridership at the two stations had jumped to 211,883. By 1870, the annual ridership had more than doubled during the ensuing decade, climbing to 455,542.88 Describe your image On 9 April 1873, the state legislature chartered the Manayunk & Roxborough Incline Plane and Railway Company, authorizing it to construct and operate a standard streetcar line powered by “horse or dummy engine” on Ridge Avenue from the Wissahickon to Barren Hill in Montgomery County. The new company was also authorized to construct and operate “an inclined plane from any point on Levering Street, in Manayunk, to extend to the top of the hill in Roxborough … and to run and haul cars by a stationary steam engine up and down said inclined plane.”89 The novel inclined plane proposal was celebrated. “This will be something new for this city, it being the first road of its kind that has ever been built here. … At first undoubtedly the timid ones will be afraid to patronize the new road, but after they have learned that the inclined planes in the western part of the State have been in operation for a long time without a single accident … they will ride up and down in the queerly shaped cars with the same feeling of comfort and security that they now experience in a street car.”90 Despite the enthusiasm for the novel technology, only the standard streetcar line on Ridge Avenue was constructed. The inclined plane up Levering Street from Manayunk to Roxborough was never built. Describe your image On 14 April 1868, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved a measure to take much of the land bounding the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia as an addition to Fairmount Park to ensure the protection of the purity of the water and the preservation of the beauty of its scenery. Over the next several decades, the Fairmount Park Commission acquired more than 2,000 acres of land in the creek valley and systematically demolished most of the industrial facilities as it returned the Wissahickon Valley to its natural appearance. In the 1930s, the Works Project Administration, a New Deal agency, demolished the remaining mill buildings, removing the last traces of what had been one of the most industrialized landscapes of eighteenth-century America and constructing rustic buildings for recreational uses.91 ​ At about the same time the City began acquiring the valley of the Wissahickon Creek to protect the Schuylkill River’s water quality, it also began construction of a reservoir system in upper Roxborough. By the end of the 1850s, the Philadelphia Water Department determined that the northwestern section of the city, including Roxborough, Manayunk, and Chestnut Hill, would need to be served by its own water works. The high ground in this area was far above the reach of existing reservoirs in the city, which supplied water by gravity. Wells in populated areas were becoming unpalatable and in many cases unhealthy. “Manayunk and Roxborough [contain] a population numbering about twelve thousand,” Henry P.M. Birkinbine, chief engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department, wrote in a report to City Councils on 8 September 1859. “Of these, at least three thousand are operatives employed in the different factories. This part of the city is much in need of a supply of water for culinary, manufacturing and sanitary purposes, and for protection against fire, as the property in the manufactories is of great value, and now almost entirely without protection against fire…. From the dense population of parts of the district, the wells have become so contaminated, that the water in but few of them is now fit for culinary purposes. The necessity of a supply for manufacturing and mechanical purposes is evident.” Birkinbine proposed a water works along the Schuylkill, with a pumping station above the Flat Rock Dam at Shawmont and reservoirs located higher up the steep banks of the river, which would provide water by gravity through distribution mains in the streets. This system would serve not only the immediate vicinity, but other areas of the city as well. Construction began on these works after the end of the Civil War, with the pumping station at Shawmont completed in 1869. The steam-powered pumps forced water uphill into a reservoir (about 366 feet above city datum) located at present-day Eva and Dearnley Streets in Roxborough. To increase the capacity of the Roxborough Works and allow water to flow by gravity to a larger part of the city, the pumping station on the Schuylkill was expanded in the 1890s, and a much larger reservoir was built higher up the ridge (the Upper Reservoir, about 414 feet above city datum), along Port Royal Avenue about a block from Ridge Avenue. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the City constructed slow-sand filter plants at the Lower and Upper Roxborough Reservoirs. Once it went into operation citywide in 1909, the filtration system greatly reduced the incidence of water­borne diseases such as typhoid fever, which had been transmitted by the untreated (and sometimes sewage-tainted) river water. By the 1940s, rapid-sand filters began to supplant slow-sand filters as the technology of choice for water purification systems. By the early 1960s, filtration plants elsewhere in the city had been updated with this new technology as well as other automation features. More efficient and powerful electric pumps also meant that water could be delivered to the highest parts of the city from other pumping stations and reservoirs. “Unsuited to the needs of a modern city, the [Roxborough] water works were rapidly becoming obsolete and their capacity was too limited to meet future community growth,” stated the 1962 annual report of the Water Department. That year, the pumping station and two filter plants were closed down, and the upper reservoir was drained of its 147 million gallons. Today, underground storage basins at the Upper and Lower Roxborough sites are now filled by the pumps of the Queen Lane plant.92 Describe your image The City Atlas of Philadelphia by G.M. Hopkins clearly shows that Leverington had emerged as an identifiable suburban residential district by 1875 (Figure 33).93 West of Ridge Road, between Levering Street at the south, Leverington Avenue at the north, and Manayunk Avenue at the west, a highly developed suburban neighborhood of large detached and semi-detached houses was nearly built out by 1875. East of Ridge, large suburban houses were depicted on the 1875 map on Leverington and other streets. Smaller suburban houses, primarily twins, were evident on Dupont, Monastery, Roxborough, and other streets extending east from Ridge. In 1875, large estates including those of Dr. William Camac and J.V. Merrick occupied southernmost tip of the ridge in the Wissahickon neighborhood, mirroring the grand estates across the valley, on the southern bank of the Wissahickon along School House Lane. Little had changed in the remainder of Roxborough, which persisted as a linear village along Ridge Road surrounded by farmers’ fields. The 1875 map depicted the Wissahickon & Barren Hill Horse Railway running the length of Ridge Road out into Montgomery County, with a horse car barn west of Port Royal or Ship Lane, at the former Sorrel Horse Tavern. The population of the 21st Ward grew considerably in the late nineteenth century, from 13,861 in 1870; to 18,699 in 1880; to 26,900 in 1890; to 32,168 in 1900.94 In the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, much of the remaining open land adjacent to Manayunk in the Wissahickon and Leverington sections of Roxborough, south of Fountain Street was subdivided and built upon, primarily for residential use. For example, by 1885, large single and twin Second Empire houses lined Sumac and Rochele in the Wissahickon neighborhood, provided elegant housing for managers associated with Manayunk’s textile mills and the Pencoyd Iron Works, which was located across the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County, but linked to Roxborough by bridges. However, large pockets of open land remained south of Fountain, especially to the east of Ridge Avenue. Commercial and institutional buildings were primarily located on Ridge Avenue. To the north of Fountain Street, Roxborough remained a linear village along Ridge Avenue with zones of denser development around Shawmont Avenue and Manatawna Avenue. Away from Ridge Avenue, north of Fountain Street, the land continued to be farmed as it had for nearly 200 years. ​ During the decades after the Civil War, numerous religious and other institutions were established in the Leverington and Wissahickon neighborhoods of Roxborough to support the growing population. The Central Methodist Episcopal Church was established on Green Lane west of Ridge Avenue in 1870. The Leverington Presbyterian Church was established in 1878 and consecrated its first church building at Leverington and Ridge in 1880. The Wissahickon Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1882; the congregation consecrated its church building at Terrace and Salaignac Streets in 1883.95 The Wissahickon Baptist Church, on Terrace near Dawson, was established in 1884 at a mission chapel. The church building was erected in 1889.96 St. Stephens Episcopal Church at the corner of Terrace and Hermit was established in 1886 from a mission that was formed in 1871. The Talmage Reformed Church at Pechin and Rector was formed in 1889. Wissahickon Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Ridge and Manayunk was organized in 1892 and the church building was completed in 1894. The Galilee Baptist Church, an African-American congregation, incorporated in 1899 and constructed a church building to designs by architects Kennedy & Kelsey at the corner of Roxborough Avenue and Mitchell Street in 1901.97 During this period, only one church was established to the north, in the sparsely populated rural section of Roxborough; the Manatawna Baptist Church on Ridge Avenue was established in 1872.98 ​ In addition to churches, several religious-based social service agencies were established in the southern sections of Roxborough during the late nineteenth century. St. Timothy’s Working Men’s Club and Institute was founded in 1872 to provide social and educational opportunities for working men. The club’s building, located at the intersection of Ridge Avenue, Terrace Street, and Vassar Street, was designed by architect Charles M. Burns Jr. and completed in 1877 (Figure 34). It included a library with reading and billiard rooms. The club hosted baseball and cricket teams and offered free night classes in mechanical drawing, engineering, and chemistry. The club ceased operations in 1912 owing to declining membership. The Roxborough Home for Women was established in 1887 on East Leverington to provide housing and support for Protestant women. The Memorial Hospital and House of Mercy of Saint Timothy's Church, Roxborough opened in 1890. By 1896, the name was changed to St. Timothy's Memorial Hospital and House of Mercy, Roxborough and, in 1920 to the Memorial Hospital, Roxborough. Located at Ridge Avenue and James Street, the hospital was built on land and with funds donated by J. Vaughan Merrick. The hospital was under the control of St. Timothy's Protestant Episcopal Church until 1920.99 Describe your image As George W. and Walter S. Bromley’s Atlas of the City of Philadelphia of 1895 shows, Manayunk and Lower Roxborough, south of Fountain Street, continued to be densely developed during the later nineteenth century as a suburban residential district for people employed in Manayunk and downtown Philadelphia. Commercial activity in Roxborough was primarily confined to Ridge Avenue. Away from Ridge Avenue, Upper Roxborough as well as the eastern reaches of Lower Roxborough along the Wissahickon, which were inaccessible to commuters, remained open land.100 Describe your image In the late nineteenth century, Henry Houston, a wealthy businessman and real estate investor with connections to the Pennsylvania Railroad, began to acquire large tracts of open land in Upper Roxborough.101 Houston also held large tracts of land in Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill and had built the Philadelphia, Germantown & Chestnut Hill Railroad (now the Chestnut Hill West line) in the 1880s to provide easy access to the land west of Germantown Avenue for suburban development.102 About 1890, Houston and others began promoting a suburban commuter rail line in Roxborough to open the rural land for suburban development. In July 1891, William F. Dixon, a paper manufacturer, City Councilman, and 21st Ward powerbroker was granted a charter for the Roxborough Railroad Company, which authorized it to build a line 10 miles long from the Philadelphia, Germantown & Chestnut Hill Railroad line at Chelten Avenue and Pulaski Street in Germantown, across the Wissahickon, through the eastern and northern reaches of Roxborough, and into Montgomery County, where it would connect with the Trenton cut-off (Figure 35).103 As Dixon explained, the railroad was intended to “open up a territory of the city which is now virtually isolated, and one which is badly in need of railroad facilities.”104 Survey work and negotiations for the right-of-way were initiated in the summer of 1891. In 1892, the Pennsylvania Railroad, which also operated the Philadelphia, Germantown & Chestnut Hill Railroad, agreed to manage the Roxborough line. The railroad project, however, hit several snags including property owners who “demanded exorbitant prices” for their land. Evidencing the troubles, the police were called to prevent the railroad from breaking ground in 1893.105 The project languished. In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad abandoned the Roxborough Railroad project because “it was finally determined that the costs of the right of way would be far in excess” of $80,000, the amount the railroad had agreed to pay in 1892. Charles E. Pugh, the First Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, explained to Philadelphia’s Mayor John Reyburn that “the advent of electricity has made the trolley car the proper medium for doing this character of work, and the facilities of the steam railroads, already very crowded, should be depended upon for taking care of long distance travel.”106 This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 84 Emerson Fite, Social and Industrial Conditions in the North during the Civil War (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1910), p. 94-95. 85 Cited in Table 8.1 in Philip Scranton, Proprietary Capitalism: The Textile Manufacture at Philadelphia, 1800-1885 (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1883), p. 296-297. 86 Inquirer, 13 July 1861, p. 5. 87 “A Defiant Corporation,” Inquirer, 12 June 1888, p. 2; “The Ridge Line Leased,” The Times, 1 July 1892, p. 1; “The Ridge Line Leased,” The Times, 19 August 1892, p. 1. 88 Cited in Table 2-2 in Jeffrey P. Roberts, “Railroads and Downtown: Philadelphia, 1830-1900,” in William W. Cutler III and Howard Gillette Jr., eds., The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Philadelphia, 1800-1975 (Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 41. 89 Laws of the General Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania Passed at the Session of 1873 (Harrisburg: Benjamin Singerly, 1873), p. 883-884. 90 “Proposed New Railway from Manayunk to Roxborough,” Inquirer, 25 April 1874, p. 2. See also “New Passenger Railway,” Inquirer 12 August 1873, p. 2; Inquirer, 4 January 1875, p. 6; Inquirer, 9 September 1893, p. 2. 91 David R. Contosta and Carol Franklin, Metropolitan Paradise: The Struggle for Nature in the City ­Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020 (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's University Press, 2010). 92 Adapted from Adam Levine, “Watershed History: Roxborough Water Works,” Watersheds Blog, Philadelphia Water Department, 19 May 2011. 93 G. M. Hopkins, City Atlas of Philadelphia, Vol. 2, Wards 21 and 28, 1875. 94 In 1867, the former Penn Township portion of the 21Ward, with School House Lane as the dividing line, was split off to form the 28th Ward. Act of 14 March 1867, §1, P.L. 460. Population numbers from: John Daly and Allen Weinberg, Genealogy of Philadelphia County Subdivisions (Philadelphia: City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, 1966), p. 100. 95 “Wissahickon M.E. Church,” Inquirer, 30 October 1883, p. 2. 96 Inquirer, 11 January 1889, p. 7. 97 “Baptist Church Can Incorporate,” The Times, 29 December 1899, p. 3; “The Latest News in Real Estate,” Inquirer, 24 November 1900, p. 15; “New Church to Cost $13,000,” The Times, 3 December 1900, p. 11. 98 Inquirer, 18 May 1872, p. 2. 99 “A Generous Gift,” The Times, 19 March 1890, p. 6; “The Merricks’ Munificent Gift,” Inquirer, 12 June 1890, p. 5. 100 George W. & Walter S. Bromley, Civil Engineers, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: G.W. Bromley and Co., 1895), plates 32-34. 100 George W. & Walter S. Bromley, Civil Engineers, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: G.W. Bromley and Co., 1895), plates 32-34. 101 On Henry Houston, see J.M. Duffin, A Guide to the Henry Howard Houston Estate Papers, 1698-1989 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, The University Archives and Records Center, 1989). 102 The Philadelphia, Germantown & Chestnut Hill Railroad was incorporated on 2 January 1883 and 6.75-mile line between Germantown Junction and Chestnut Hill was constructed in 1883 and 1884. 103 “William Dixon’s Railroad,” Inquirer, 18 July 1891, p. 3; “Surveys for a New Road,” Times, 23 July 1891, p.4; “The New Trenton Cut-Off,” Inquirer, 10 September 1891, p. 4; “Roxborough’s Railroad Extension,” Inquirer, 11 September 1891, p. 8; “Roxborough’s New Railroad,” Inquirer, 29 October 1891, p. 4. 104 “Councils’ Committee at Work: The Roxborough Railroad Seeking a Route,” Times 11 September 1891, p. 6. 105 “A Railroad Checked,” Inquirer, 17 May 1893, p. 2. 106 “Roxborough Line Will Not Be Built,” Inquirer, 25 June 1910, p. 7. Top of page

  • RMWHS | RARHD | Turn of the Century

    Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District Turn of the Century Although the Roxborough Railroad failed to provide access to the rural sections of Roxborough for suburban development, the construction of the Walnut Lane Bridge over the Wissahickon in 1907 and 1908 did better connect Roxborough to Germantown and open the way for development of the open land overlooking the valley (Figure 38). Until the bridge opened at the dawn of the automobile era in 1908, traveling between Germantown and Roxborough required the steep descent into the gorge and the equally steep climb out of it, an extremely difficult task in the era of horse-drawn carriages and wagons. Constructed by engineers of the City of Philadelphia, the concrete arch bridge, the longest single-span masonry arch in the world when completed, was considered an engineering marvel.109 While the Walnut Lane Bridge offered a convenient connection to Germantown, Roxborough’s boosters still wanted a direct connection to burgeoning North Philadelphia and to the downtown beyond that did not require negotiating the steep hill up the Ridge from the Schuylkill or the deep Wissahickon gorge. The Henry Avenue Bridge, which carries Henry Avenue over the Wissahickon and Lincoln Drive, was contemplated as early as 1912 as part of a subway extension plan, but was not implemented for nearly two decades. By the time it was implemented, the automobile had supplanted all other forms of transportation. After many years of planning and false starts, the bridge was designed by prominent engineers Ralph Modjeski and Frank Masters in collaboration with renowned architect Paul Cret in 1927, constructed in the early 1930s, and completed in May 1932. At the same time, Henry Avenue was extended from East Falls, across the Wissahickon, and through Roxborough to Ridge Avenue in the Andorra section. The wide, four-lane boulevard, which runs along the western boundary of the Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park, was designed for automobiles, not horses or trolleys, and opened the remainder of Roxborough for suburban development. Although the mass transit facilities were built into the bridge, no transit line was run along Henry Avenue and the bridge’s transit facilities were never used. Even before the bridge was completed, real estate agents were marketing suburban homes along Henry Avenue. For example, in 1927 real estate agents Mason & Bruhns advertised an “exceptional home ‘In the Open Suburbs of Philadelphia,’ 613 Walnut Lane at Henry avenue, adjoining the Wissahickon Valley and proposed golf course. New Henry Avenue Bridge will enhance value.”110 Describe your image In 1907, while the Walnut Lane Bridge was under construction, Fowler & Kelly published an aerial view of Roxborough from West Laurel Hill Cemetery drawn by Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (Figure 39). The bird’s-eye, which includes the incomplete Walnut Lane Bridge, depicts Roxborough, with its dense suburban development in Wissahickon and Leverington and its open rural land to the north and east, in its final moments before the automobile would forever alter development patterns and the built environment in the lower northwest section of the city. Describe your image ​Figure 39. Thaddeus Mortimer, Birds Eye View of Manayunk, Wissahickon-Roxborough from West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1907, published by Fowler & Kelly, Morrisville, Pa., 1907. This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Sections: 1 Intro and Nomination Form 2 Boundary and Description 3 Statement of Significance 4 Native Americans 5 Patent Holders and Early Settlers 6 Ridge Road 7 Early Roxborough 8 Georgian and Colonial Architecture 9 During the Revolutionary War 10 Federal Architecture 11 Development of Manayunk 12 Greek Revival Architecture 13 Early 19th Century 14 Gothic Revival Architecture 15 Italianate Architecture 16 During and After the Civil War 17 Second Empire Architecture 18 Queen Anne Architecture 19 Turn of the Century 20 Conclusion and Bibliography 109 Contemporary accounts of the Walnut Lane Bridge also include “The Walnut Lane Bridge Across the Wissahickon Valley,” The Press, 27 April 1907; “Bridge Over the Wissahickon Creek and Its Main Span,” Public Ledger, 11 July 1907; “Bridge False Work Collapses; One Dead,” Public Ledger, 28 December 1907. On the design and construction, see George S. Webster, “Annual Report of the Board of Surveys,” in Second Annual Message of John E. Reyburn, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia ... for the Ending December 31, 1908 (Philadelphia, 1909), II, 328-329; George S. Webster and Henry H. Quimby, “Walnut Lane Bridge, Philadelphia,” Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 35, no. 6 (August 1909): 587-625; “The Walnut Lane Bridge, Philadelphia,” Engineering Record 54, no. 20 (17 November 1906): 542-544; “Moving the Centering of the Walnut Lane Arch at Philadelphia,” Engineering News 58, no. 7 (15 August 1907): 168; “The Walnut Lane Bridge, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia,” Engineering Record 56, no. 9 (31 August 1907): 222-226; J.A. Stewart, “The New Bridge Over the Wissahickon at Philadelphia,” Scientific American 97, no. 22 (30 November 1907): 392-393; George Maurice Heller, “The Design of the Centering for the 233-Ft. Arch Span, Walnut Lane Bridge, Phila., Pa.,” Proceedings of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia 25, no. 3 (July 1908): 257-278; “The Effect of Temperature on the Walnut Lane Concrete Arch,” Engineering News 62, no. 15 (7 October 1909): 376; “Walnut-Lane Bridge, Philadelphia, Pa.,” The Builder 98, no. 3516 (25 June 1910): 727-730; “The Largest Single-Span Concrete Bridge in the World,” World To-Day 15 (December 1908): 1293; Frederic Blount Warren, “The Walnut Lane, Philadelphia, Bridge: A Majestic Concrete Structure,” Scientific American Supplement 66, no. 1715 (14 November 1908): 306. 110 Inquirer, 27 November 1927, p. 69. Top of page

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