#tbt my history with history

The photo above has me in the center. Circa 1976- 1977. It has just been too long that sadly, I don’t remember the exact date.

Where am I? At one of my favorite historic sites on earth. Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. I think technically, my friends and I at the time, beat Chef Walter Staib into the kitchen there by a few decades.

When we first moved to the Main Line from Society Hill, I missed the history and old houses of Society Hill. Yes, I was kind of obsessed by old houses even then. So neighbors introduced our family to historic Harriton House. And as a related sidenote, Historic Harriton House is a remarkable story of preservation. I urge everyone to take the time to go visit. The site is a little slice of heaven.

Before we moved from the city to suburbia, I also did something kind of historically minded for a kid.

At 11, I was probably the youngest volunteer tour guide the Park Service ever had in Society Hill. I gave tours of the Todd House and Bishop White House. In Colonial garb with a little mob cap.

How? Well my parents knew Hobie Cawood. Mr. Cawood was the Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park from 1971-1991. I wrote about this before.

But this is just something I have always loved since I was a kid. Our history, our architecture, our old houses.

I am not a new house person. I am a preserve the old house person. It’s just the way I am made. I am a realist and I don’t think every old house can be saved, but I think a lot more can be saved then are actually being saved.

Whenever I have these conversations with anyone about historic preservation, I go back to my childhood in Society Hill. And the reason is simple: that area was a total slum when people like my parents as newlyweds bought wrecks of old houses in Society Hill for peanuts from the redevelopment authority in Philadelphia.

My parents and their friends restored these houses with architectural details and hardware and windows and woodwork from houses that were too far gone to save. And as kids, a lot of the time we went with our parents when they were visiting these wrecks of houses to see what they could salvage out of them. And salvaging then wasn’t so much a big business as it was sort of a neighbor helping neighbor collaborative. People would give you the stuff out of the houses being torn down. It was a very different time.

It was through these expeditions that I learned about things like shutter dogs. Busybody mirrors. Box locks and more. The details of historical architecture which have traveled with me throughout my life.

This is where my love of old houses began. And it has been a lifelong affair.

A lot of people don’t like my opinions. And I’m sorry they don’t share my love of old houses and history. But as Americans we have a magnificent history. And we can’t just keep bulldozing it away.

Thanks for stopping by.

the art of custom cabinetry, woodworking, and furniture

custom-kitchen-lg-aCabinet makers, custom furniture builders, and artisan wood workers are a dying breed.  It takes real artistic talent combined with years of work. Some people call themselves cabinet makers and so on, but they really aren’t. Seriously, it is an art form.

I love custom woodwork and cabinetry.  It’s luscious and beautiful.  baker

I do not often promote businesses and if I do I must have personal experience with them.  I am going to introduce you to one.

Sherman & Gosweiler Fine Cabinetry and Woodworking. They have been in business  since 1976 and I LOVE their work! If you can dream it, Dick Gosweiler can build it.  Whether it is an urban space like a chic Manhattan apartment or townhouse; a penthouse on Rittenhouse Square; a second home in Bay Head or the Hamptons; or even a simple mahogany-bookcasesfarmhouse in Chester County this is who you want.

In addition to making your dreams for your home come to life this company also can olengdo period reproductions.  One of my particular favorites are the mantelpieces and mantelpiece surrounds they have done over the years.  I mean don’t you just hate to see people put gobs of money into either a new house or an extensive renovation only to cheap out on a stock mantelpiece and/or mantelpiece surround for a den or living room or great room?

On my wish list for my home someday I would love one of their mantelpieces.smuckler

Anyway, just was thinking about house stuff and thought I would throw this up here.

Sherman & Gosweiler have a website and a Facebook fan page. If you need their services they can be reached at (610) 270-0825.  They are located at  401 East 4th Street in Bridgeport – that is their physical shop, but they travel pretty much anywhere for installations and whatnot.

What they say about themselves is as follows and utterly true:cherry-dining-table

Since our inception in 1976 we have always had the same philosophy: To craft beautiful and functional cabinetry delivered on budget and on time.  We are committed to making the entire experience easy and pleasurable for our clients. From creating a great design to a trouble-free installation, we are available to answer your questions and coordinate with other tradespeople on the job. Let us show you why scores of interior designers, architects, builders and hundreds of homeowners have put their trust in us.

it’s a pear thing

Yes, in my garden menagerie inherited from previous owners are also a couple of pear trees.  I am really frustrated right now because I need one of those picking poles (don’t knopw what else to call them).  At the tippy top of the trees are the best pears.  And I am in a race with birds and bugs to get to them…probably squirrels too.

One summer when I was growing up and I went to Strasbourg, I will never forget the visit to a pear orchard.  There pears were growing into bottles placed at the ends of limbs when the pears were teeny-weeny.  These pears later became an eau du vie Poire William.

Also, my parents had a friend when I was growing up named Harry Niblock.  He was an  artist (he passed away a few years ago) and he loved to paint and draw pears.   Of course the amusing thing about Harry’s pears is they almost reminded you of people when he was finished.  Some (like at left)  were more traditional still lives.  But some of those pears? Odd to say but they were downright sexual in nature.

His ex-wife Margery Niblock is also an artist.  She taught me how to do woodblock and linoleum cutting and printing. I still have the scar on my wrist from when she warned me how to hold my tools when cutting and I did not listen. The mini photo of a woodcut of geraniums is one of her pieces that I actually have – found it at a flea market and it took me back to when I was a kid.  To this day, she is still one of my favorite artists.  If I see her work anywhere, I buy it.  One time when we were little, she used my sister as a model.  My sister was a little thing sitting on the beach playing with my mother’s wide brimmed straw hat and playing in the sand.  And during the holidays, Margie would also create these fabulous Christmas-y wood cuts.

 

 

So I thought of both of them today as I was trying to get a few pears down to photograph and this is the result.

Like I said, it’s a pear thing.  And a memory.

chestercountyramblings featured in a post on “preservation nation”!

I am honored!  I received a message that my post on historic St. Peter’s Church in Society Hill was cross-posted by The National Trust For Historic Preservation’s Blog Preservation Nation: Preservation Round-Up: Found on Facebook Edition

Posted on: May 24th, 2012 by David Garber 2 Comments
Today’s Preservation Round-Up is a selection of stories you alerted us to on our Facebook page. As much as we have our ear to the ground for local preservation stories and efforts around the country, we can’t be everywhere at once, so we greatly appreciate your shares. Here are some recent posts worth checking out.

 

I am honored and psyched to be featured on their blog which is awesome, and I hope it brings attention to the plight of this church as it raises funds to raise the roof once again.

If you would like to donate to St. Peter’s, here is how you do it:

Donations of any amount can be sent as follows:

Saint Peter’s Church,

ATTENTION: HISPIC

313 Pine Street

Philadelphia, PA  19106

 

calling all preservationists and angels: historic st. peter’s church needs you!

It is a horrible economic time to have a crisis with a historic structure, let alone one of the most favorite and beloved in the Philadelphia region.  It is because of that this blog is making a little side trip to the Society Hill section of Philadelphia where I was born.

St. Peter’s, is an 18th century, American Revolution relevent Episcopalian Church in Society Hill and 4th and Pine streets.  I went to grade school at St. Peter’s School, so I have many happy memories of this church (and others like getting a book autographed every year at the St. Peter’s book fair by Marguerite D’Angeli who was a friend of the headmistress.)

St. Peter’s was one of the Society Hill landmarks that was my playground as a child.  It is also one of the most beautiful and serene places in Philadelphia.

I attended Easter Services at St. Peter’s and it was like instantly going back in time to when I was a little girl.  St. Peter’s is one of those places that makes you realize you can go home again.  From her beautiful windows to the high boxes inside the church, to the climb up the stairs for a look out over the church yard, St. Peter’s is just a very cool place.

I learned on the news today that St. Peter’s needs the help of anyone who can spare a dollar or two.  The church is being forced to close due to instability in the roof of the historic structure.  St. Peter’s Church was designed by Robert Smith and opened in 1761 as an offshoot of Christ Church in Old City. The Church’s tower, designed by William Strickland, was added in 1842.

St. Peter’s is a National Historic Landmark.

Saint Peter’s is not just a historic structure, it is a church that does many good things including a food cupboard.  They live their slogan of “Open Hearts. Open Minds”

Can you help save St. Peter’s?  The faster they have angels drop donations on them, the faster they will reopen.

Donations of any amount can be sent as follows:

Saint Peter’s Church, ATTENTION: HISPIC,313 Pine Street Philadelphia, PA  19106

 Media on the topic:

Plan Philly: St. Peter’s Church roof at risk of collapse

St. Peter’s Church at 3rd and Pine streets has been in continuous use since the 1760s, but parishioners will not be able to worship in the sanctuary this Sunday.

The Inquirer reports that St. Peter’s sanctuary roof is at risk of collapse. An engineering firm reportedly inspected the sanctuary’s roof trusses and found their condition dangerous enough to order the building closed until stabilization measures can be completed.

WHYY Newsworks: With roof in danger of failing, historic Philly church takes sabbatical  May 17, 2012  By Kevin McCorry

When George Washington was in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress, he attended services at a relatively new Episcopal church called St. Peter’s in what’s now known as Society Hill.

Now, more than 250 years after it was built, the same church still stands at Third and Pine streets.  It serves more than 400 families and educates children at its elementary school across the street.

The stalwart church, however, is in danger after so many years…..Even after the building is reopened, Laughlin said the congregation will need to raise $1 million to completely update the church’s structure, a prospect which could take up to three years.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sanctuary of St. Peter’s Church closes amid fears of collapse

May 16, 2012|Bob Moran

The sanctuary of the historic St. Peter’s Church in Society Hill has been closed after several roof trusses were deemed at risk of collapse, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin told congregants in an e-mail Wednesday.

An architectural engineering firm concluded that the trusses “are sufficiently at risk of collapse that the sanctuary must be closed at once,” Laughlin wrote. The firm said the sanctuary could be reopened in several months if the roof is stabilized. Replacing the roof could take two or three years.