Some photos of houses in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
April 2008

April 2008 - Houses in Elkins Park

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Here are some photos of the neighborhood where I grew up.
 
 
#1 - My parents' house, Elkins Park (a suburb of Philadelphia)
#2 - Note that every other house was built in the 1920s-1930s.  Then the wide lots were filled in, in the 1950-1960s.
#4 - A house around the corner.
#5 - Same.  Note the garage around the side of the house, in the basement -- a common design element.
#6 - This is next door to the previous house.  Tall maple trees, probably 80-100 years old.
#9 - Up the street -- One of my favorite houses in the area.  Rear of house.  This house is 2 blocks up the street from my parents' house is on, at the corner of an old straight street with bigger houses.
#10, 11 - Front of same house, not a great photo.
#12 - About 3 houses down from the corner house, on the street with the big houses.
#17 - Around the corner in the other direction, the Mediterranean / Craftsman house that started it all for Fred.  If it hadn't been for this house, my interest in 369 Park Avenue might never have occurred.  I walked past this house on my way to elementary school, and, later, to the bus to highschool.  Note the fake beams in front -- two are missing.
#19 - My parents' house, from the corner. 
#21 - Back yard
 
 
My father designed and had this house built in 1960.  Prior to that, it had been an empty lot.
 
From the 1870s or so, Elkins Park had been one of the areas around Philadelphia for the very wealthy to build mansions.  As the mansions came down, by fire or unaffordable maintenance by the heirs, subdivisions were put in.  Many of the curved streets, lined with 120-year-old trees, were driveways to the estates.  The first wave of subdivisions were around 1900-1910, then again around 1930, and then again around 1960. 
 
The elementary school that I went to was built in 1892.  The principal at my elementary school had been my father's highschool English teacher.
My junior high was built in 1910 and 1928.  And the high school was built in 1959.
 
The oldest house in Elkins Park (one of the oldest houses in Philadelphia) was built in 1682.  It had been in continuous residence until 1978, and now is a museum.  The only estate owner's names that we might recognize today are Stetson (of Stetson hats), Breyer (ice cream), and Curtis (Curtis Publishing:  Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal).
 
A few miles away from Elkins Park, about a mile from the location of my high school, was Stotesbury Mansion (Whitemarsh Hall), the 2nd largest house ever built in the U.S. --  Built in 1921, about 100,000 square feet in size, with 147 rooms and 45 bathrooms and 335 acres of fountains, formal gardens, and manicured lawns.  More than 70 gardeners worked full time on the grounds.  Stotesbury died in 1938, and the building was torn down in 1980.   At the start of World War II, his widow donated the two mile long, eight-foot tall steel fence to the War Department, to be turned into metal for 18,000 guns.
 
The only synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is in Elkins Park.
 
Only about half-a-dozen of the old estate mansions are still standing.  Most are religious retreats, so as to have tax-exempt status.  The largest still present is Lynnewood Hall, with 110 rooms.  For info, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynnewood_Hall 

Lynnewood Hall - May 2007


Another old mansion, Grey Towers Castle, has become a college.  When I was growing up, it was "Beaver College" but in 2000 the name was changed to Arcadia University.  The popular rumor for the name change is that on the Internet, searching for the words "beaver college" produced results that were not appropriate. 

"Arcadia University is included as a question in the 20th anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuit. The question, in the news category, is: What Pennsylvania institution changed its name to Arcadia University in 2001, after web filters began blocking its old moniker? The answer, of course, is Beaver College."

 

Grey Towers Castle

 
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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