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Dog Days of Summer

July 31, 2013

Since we are now approaching the dog days of August, we thought we would bring you some dog-related photos and objects from the Germantown Historical Society’s very own collection.

Here is an old photo of the Boltz family from Germantown with their family dog Ben, 1890.

A close-up of Bobby, an adorable Jack Russell terrier that belonged to the family of Marriott C. Morris. Morris was a well-known philanthropist and photographer of Germantown who lived on Walnut Lane. Photographed by Marriott C. Morris, 1927.

A small toy dog made of wood covered with cotton batting. Dark gray colored head. From the 19th century.

Miniature porcelain dog with a whiteware body colored gray. Painted red collar with painted gold bells, darker ears and muzzle, curved tail. Possibly from the 19th century.

Historic Germantown: Swimsuit Edition

July 18, 2013

For years, people have been beating the heat over the summer by hitting beaches and pools. Here are some old Germantown swimsuits from our collection found in the attic of the Germantown Historical Society.

Dark blue wool bathing suit. Sleeveless top. Shorts with button fly and white webbing belt with a metal buckle. From M&H Sporting Goods Co. in Philadelphia. Dated 1910-1930. Possibly donated by Mrs. R.H. Parham.

Knee-length navy blue cotton “games suit” with white tape decoration at neck and sleeves. 6 buttons on front and pleating at belt. Dated 1915-1940. According to its label, from John Wanamaker, which had locations in Philadelphia, New York, and Paris.

Yellow and white check bathing suit with embroidered black and blue butterflies scattered on the fabric. Dated “Mid-20th Century”. Label reads “Cole of California Original  Junior M” and belonged to a Valerie Dunn.

Medium bright blue cotton gym suit with snap closing. Name tag for “Irene Dunn” as well as “Irene” in white stitching on the back. Dated 1950-1970.

HG’s Fife & Drum Collection

July 10, 2013

In honor of the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corps from Plymouth, MI coming to Historic RittenhouseTown on Wednesday, July 17th for a special performance, we headed to the basement of the Germantown Historical Society to find our own Fife & Drum collection. Check it out!

Baker's Drum

(A) Small, dark brown leather drum with wooden interior support. Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hughes Jr, 1949.

The small, dark brown drum (A) was used by Christopher Ludwig, who was appointed Baker-General of the Continental Army by the Continental Congress in 1777. Ludwig was an early supporter of the Revolution, was involved in the 1777 Battle of Germantown, and often dined at George Washington’s dinner parties.

(B) Drum with eagle on it made by Major Endt in 1844. Donated by Aaron Jones Wister Sr, 1917.

The ‘eagle’ drum (B) belonged to the Germantown Blues aka the Germantown Band, an early 19th century organization led by Jacob Howe.

(C) Drum with red, gold, and black bands at top and bottom strung together by cotton rope along with one of its drumsticks. Donated by Rachael A. Watson, 1948.

The last drum (C) was used at the Battle of Gettysburg and Battle of Antietam as well as in G.A.R. (a Union army veterans organization) parades in Germantown. Bought from Mr. George Wolf, a drummer in Pennsylvania’s Bucktail Regiment of Ellis Post No. 6 during the Civil War, by Mr. Thomas F. Watson Sr.

Of the fifes pictured, the slightly longer fife (top) was used in the Civil War and belonged to Philip M. Hammer, grandfather of the donor.

Dark brown/black wood fifes with brass rings. Donated by Mrs. Holman White, 1946.

Make sure to check out the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corps at Historic RittenhouseTown on Wednesday, July 17th. The event starts at 11:00am and there will be a lunch and a chance to meet the Corps!  Don’t miss this special stop on their national tour!

July 4th Festivities in Chestnut Hill

July 2, 2013

Men playing in a July 4th baseball game in front of a big crowd on the athletic fields of Chestnut Hill Academy, c.1900

Take a look at these 4×5 glass plate negatives of Chestnut Hill’s July 4th festivities from around 1900! Chestnut Hill was a part of the German Township before both Chestnut Hill and Germantown were incorporated into Philadelphia in 1854. The first two pictures were taken near Willow Grove Ave by the Chestnut Hill Academy (now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy) on July 4th. The last picture was taken on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.


Some boys participating in a July 4th pie-eating contest, c.1900


July 4th Parade in Chestnut Hill at the corner of Germantown and Evergreen Aves, c.1900. In the background is McGlone’s Saloon on the east side of the 8600 Germantown block, now the site of a Wachovia Bank.

Celebrate July 4th with us this Thursday in Historic Germantown with free programming at five of our member sites!

Stenton: 11:30am-1:30PM, Stenton will host an old-fashioned 4th of July celebration with hotdogs, make your own ice cream and flag-themed fan activity, games, and more! The program will also feature Benjamin Franklin, a good friend of James Logan, as well as music by Run of the Mill String Band.

Hood Cemetery: 12-3PM, Open for tours

Concord School House & Upper Burial Ground: 12-3PM, Open for tours. Concord will ring the historic school bell at 2pm and feature reeanactor Oney Judge.

Johnson House: 12-3PM, Open for tours.

Cliveden: 12-4PM, Open for tours, Cliveden will feature a children’s interactive activitity, “Life as a Colonial Soldier!”

For more information call
215-844-1683 or email

Visit for more information.

Summertime and the Germantown Boys’ Club

June 13, 2013

Many people have heard of Boys & Girls Clubs, but did you know that the one in Germantown is the first of its kind in Philadelphia? That’s right! The Germantown Boys’ Club (GBC), originally known as “The Boys’ Parlors Association of Germantown” until its name change in 1907, was founded in 1887 and incorporated in 1894. The Germantown Boys’ Club was housed in 25 West Penn St just off of Germantown Ave, where the Germantown Boys & Girls Club stands today. The GBC’s stated objective was “to shield boys from the temptations of the street, especially at night.” They wanted to keep young boys off the streets by providing them a place to play, socialize, and learn, thereby becoming “positive forces in their homes, their schools, their businesses, and in any community where they may live.” The types of activities offered by the club in 1907 were: Industrial Training (vocational activities), Physical Training (athletics, gymnastics, swimming), Mental Training (library), Social Training (social events and later movie screenings), and Religious Teaching (Bible readings and religion classes). By 1924, the GBC had an organized athletics program which included football, baseball, gymnastics, and swimming.

The club was originally housed in only a portion of what stands today. The first segment of the building was built in 1898 for about $10,000. However, because of the GBC’s expansion in its early years, there was a massive fundraising effort in 1908 to expand the building. One 1908 fundraising pamphlet reads: “There are over 600 boys in a building planned for 200. We have come to the point where we must expand.” In these efforts to raise money to expand, the GBC pointed out the importance of the club to the well-being of Germantown. Pamphlets distributed to the community stated: “Did you know that many local merchants and tradesmen were once GBC boys?” and “It is the duty of citizens to give back.” There were also many letters written to wealthy Germantown families and former members of the club that asking for donations. Mr. Marriott C. Morris (1863-1948), who was involved with the club since its founding and is a descendent of the family of the Deshler-Morris house, wrote many of the fundraising letters to community members. Mr. Morris held the presidency of the GBC many times and was consistently on its Board of Managers. Mr. Morris won the Fifty Year Award in 1937 for his fifty years of service to the club and was also the recipient of their Annual Award in 1940.



Although originally open from October through May, the Germantown Boys’ Club eventually became a very popular place for the youth of Germantown over the summer. By 1917, the club’s busiest months were June, July, August, and September. Just as present day Philadelphians flock to the Jersey Shore, the GBC would do the same! Every summer from about 1912 through the 1930s, the GBC would retreat to a vacation house in Ocean City, NJ from July to September which afforded the “only opportunity for vacation for most of attenders.” The house pictured here was located on the bayside shore of Ocean City and today stands on Pleasure Ave. For years, the Germantown Boys’ Club played a significant role in the Germantown community, especially during the summer months.

An Old Fashioned Picnic at Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

May 31, 2013

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion
200 West Tulpehocken Street; Philadelphia, PA 19144
Saturday, June 8th, 2013 
Noon to 3 p.m


The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in West Central Germantown will host its fifth annual Old Fashioned Picnic on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from Noon to 3 p.m.

The Old Fashioned Picnic will feature activities for children and adults including a scavenger hunt, croquet, ring toss, Industrial gadgets and face painting. Guests will also have the opportunity to play dress-up in our Victorian Photobooth. Tours of the downstairs rooms in the Mansion will also be offered.

Hot dogs and root beer (foods popularized during the Victorian era) will be served along with ice cream sundaes.

Admission to the picnic is free;
Pay as you go for food and games (tickets for each of the activities are $1 or 12 for $10).

Juggler with Katie Yonan

For more information please contact:
Diane Richardson, Executive Director; 215-438-1861;

Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School

May 14, 2013

Our mothers had Martha Stewart, Our grandmothers had Julia Child, And our great-great-great-great grandmothers had Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow.

In the early 1800s, Mrs. Goodfellow opened America’s first culinary school in Philadelphia. Located on Dock Street, Mrs. Goodfellow’s school educated women in Philadelphia- and quickly gained national acclaim. It was in her kitchen that young women from up and down the coast came to learn – not just food preparation, but – the finer arts of entertaining including table setting and manners as well as household management. Philadelphia is known as the city of many firsts, but few realize the impact it had on today’s culinary instruction. Mrs. Goodfellow not only taught Philadelphia’s young women how to cook – lessons that were handed down and documented through the generations – but she also pioneered the format of the written recipe and invented the lemon meringue pie, yet another “Philly first.” Mrs. Goodfellow insisted on only pure, wholesome ingredients. This attention to quality and freshness has come full circle today with the explosion of artisan cooking, farmer’s markets, and “buying local.”

Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School (Westholme Publishing, 2012)Becky Diamond chronicles the formation, life and times of this culinary revolution. This Saturday, May 18th, the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion will host a lecture by the book’s author, Philadelphia’s own Becky Libourel Diamond. She’ll provide a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to be a student under this culinary innovator’s tutelage as well as bringing a display of documents from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s collection, including several historic cookbooks.  You will be able to sample Victorian era cookies and Indian corn bread, prepared by Mrs. Diamond. Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18th, 2 pm

$25 Reservations can be made online or by calling The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion at 215-438-1861. Visa and MasterCard accepted.