Overflowing Dumpsters Rile Queen Lane Residents

Innovative Water Management Techniques in Northwest

First Draft of New Zoning Code Gets Mixed Review

First Friday is Makeover Night at One Salon and Boutique

Stop the Draft Event

Whodunnit? Solve the Crime Yourself at Maxwell Mansion

Family Fun at ‘Whispers Along the Wissahickon’

Halloween Fun at Historic Sites

Ghost of the Great Road:Does a Long-Dead Bridegroom Haunt the Avenue?

Upcoming Zoning Hearings in Northwest Philadelphia

No More Driving While Texting, Talking

Slave Trade Documentary at Calvary

Enon to Clean Community Centers

Homecoming at Grace Baptist

Concert Series at St. Luke’s

Community Grants from FUMCOG

200th Anniversary at 1st Pres.

Trinity Lutheran Church Women’s Day 2009 Prayer Breakfast

PHS Announces City Gardens Contest Winners

LIHEAPCash Grant Enrollment to Open Nov. 2

‘Brew Out’ at Cliveden

Tour Houses of East Falls

Food Workshops at Wyck

FOW Talk on the Wissahickon


New Writing Series at Big Blue Marble

Night Hike at SCEE

Cheer on Marchers in Breast Cancer Walk

Weatherization Worhshop

From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

October 15, 2009

Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback and ex-dog fighter Michael Vick visited Germantown High School October 13 as part of an effort in combination with his employer and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to eradicate dog fighting. Vick and HSUS President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne Pacelle have been touring the country spreading the word against dog fighting, and the Eagles have pledged $500,000 to combat dog fighting and animal cruelty. For more, see story next week.

Overflowing Dumpsters Rile Queen Lane Residents

Chronically overflowing dumpsters at the rear of Lauren’s Court Apartments have become a neighborhood concern near the 500 block of Queen Lane. The court has called for the owner to correct the problems under pressure from L&I.


Staff Writer

Residents near the Queen Lane Train Station have simple desires. They don’t want the road to flood with every downpour, they don’t want to fight with SEPTA passengers for street side parking, they don’t want vandalism and drug dealing near their homes and they don’t want trash overflowing nearby dumpsters and blowing into the streets.

They told public service officials about many of these issues at a neighborhood meeting at the train station on September 30.

For a group that formed just two months ago as an ad-hoc neighborhood association to pressure the Philadelphia Water Department to fix the flooding problem on the 500 block of West Queen Lane, it is getting some notable results in some of these areas.

Like most of the residents at the meeting last Wednesday, John Hamilton was appalled by the consistently overflowing dumpsters at the nearby Kings Manor and Lauren’s Court apartment buildings. So he picked up the phone and called a high school classmate, City Councilor Bill Green’s office.

As it happens, Green, who sits on the Streets Committee, has already introduced a bill to Council meant to address just this kind of negligence, so he’s got the office infrastructure to act on the issue. That infrastructure is Constituent Services Representative Marita Crawford. She’s heard from Hamilton so often she knows him and the Kings Manor apartment building by name.

“I get L&I to come out and issue them a violation and the Streets Department makes them clean it up,” she explained.

For King’s Manor this has been working – the dumpsters have not been overflowing since Hamilton and Crawford started making their calls, according to Hamilton.

“If you want something done with the dumpsters around here call Bill Green’s office,” he said.

But, as neighborhood association organizer Lisa Hopkins pointed out, the overall trash problem in the neighborhood still persists. After the meeting she pointed out two badly overflowing dumpsters that still littered the edge of Queen Lane from the Lauren’s Court apartment building. Cats were climbing over the heaping trash.

According to Alan Aderet, manager of Kings Manor, the placement of the Lauren’s Court dumpsters is one of the problems he faces at Kings Manor. Since they are at the rear corner of the building, it makes his dumpster, which is directly across King Street from the entrances of Lauren’s Court, a much more appealing target for residents who need to take out the trash. But that’s no excuse for dumping at his apartment building, he said.

Aderet said he has complained to Lauren’s Court owner Arnold Rosanski and found him receptive but doubtful about being able to control his residents’ behavior. Rosanski could not be reached for comment in this article, but from Aderet’s perspective the problem is also attitude.

“I’ve spoken to some tenants over there,” he said. “Some have been receptive, some have been in my face over it … if they see a dumpster there they feel they have a right to use it.”

But according to several Lauren’s Court residents there is more to the issue.  The problem may lie with Rosanski’s management of the building and the Queen Lane neighbors themselves, they indicated.

Several residents said that Lauren’s Court has its own outsider-dumping problem from non-Lauren residents. But they said the main reason the two dumpsters at Lauren are always overflowing is because they don’t get dumped often enough. And when they do get dumped, several residents said, the trash service only dumps one and leaves the other full of trash.

Officer Nicole Macon of the city Sweeps Department told residents at the neighborhood meeting that her office has been trying to bring Lauren’s Court in line just like they’ve been doing with King’s Manor, but it’s difficult to write tickets for the violations because ownership of the dumpsters is not apparent.

“We’re just ticketing,” she told residents. And she recommended taking the problem to L&I, which has a “more forceful approach,” she said.

Several residents expressed frustration at the meeting over the difficulty of getting the apartment building to clean up its act.  

“We agree with the neighbors,” said Mike Maenner, director of operations for L&I.

According to Maenner, L&I is not happy with Lauren’s Court either. L&I is so unhappy, in fact,that it brought Rosanski to court on September 30 over the dumpster violations and several other code violations stemming from inadequate building maintenance, Maenner said. Rosanski won a 45-day continuance to bring things in line, and a re-inspection of the property is set for November 5 from noon–2 p.m., with the next court date set for November 12, according to Maenner.

Maenner said the preference was to get Lauren’s Court to take responsibility for the problems itself, but if it did not, the city could demand payment to make corrections.

Green’s bill, which could come up for full City Council vote anytime after October 8, attempts to address the exact issues Officer Macon encountered with Lauren’s Court.

“This is a problem, which really exists all over the city,” said Seth Levi, director of strategic initiatives for Green. “We see dumpsters are overflowing but there is nothing on the dumpster to say who owns it.”

Green’s proposed solution is to equip each dumpster in the city with a radio frequency tag that connects to legal registration information, which can be read instantly by Sweeps officers and others with the proper equipment. 

“We’re hoping this will allow our inspectors to inspect many more dumpsters than they can currently and write tickets much faster,” Levi said. 

In theory, if penalties were easier to attach to properties at the street level, there might be less of a need to bring property owners to court for dumpster violations.

Innovative Water Management Techniques in NW

The Water Tour visited Cliveden Park to take a look at a number of water like terraces drainage beds used to manage runoff from nearby hills: Here Megan Sgarlat of Fairmount Park (second from right) points out a water feature. From left the rest of the tour-goers are: Reverend Chester Williams, Katie Donnelly, associate director of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership; Mike Feagans, Melodie Shea, Joe Shea and (far right), Patricia Fries of Fairmount Park. Photo by Ashley Schmid.


Staff Writer

It’s fall. The leaves are turning. It’s a perfect time for water resource tours.

At least that’s what the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership and the Wissahickon Environmental Center figured on Sunday October 4, when they took residents around the Awbury and Cliveden neighborhoods of the Northwest to examine the innovative work being done to clean drinking water at its source – from the rain that falls out of the sky.

Joe and Melody Shea came to the tour from Northeast Philadelphia almost by accident. “We actually found you guys looking on the Internet for rain barrels,” Joe explained.

That might not be a bad thing. Partly in response to pressure from groups like TTF, states and municipalities have been adopting stricter storm water maintenance laws and the ethic of helping Mother Nature clean her water and protect her streams is slowly gaining popularity.

As an example, the Sheas have relatives outside the city who already have those rain barrels, which capture water as it runs off rooftops for gardening, and one relative has a green roof, which captures the water before it even gets to the downspout.

In cities this can be tough to do. Because of all the impervious surface, rain water (and sometimes whole creeks) rush through pipes without ever getting a chance to seep into the ground before flowing into rivers, usually full of pollutants. And in areas like Awbury and Cliveden, where storm water drains share the same pipes as household waist pipes, that means a big mess during strong storms.

“Our toilet water, bathtub water goes out with the big rush of storm water,” said Patricia Fries, environmental education planner for the Wissahickon Environmental Center, which co-sponsored the tour.

And then we use the same rivers for irrigation, recreation and, yes, drinking water.   

The TTF Watershed covers a large portion of eastern Germantown, some of East Mt. Airy and portions of Cheltenham, and many of its creeks, like the one that flows through pipes under Chew Avenue are completely paved over.

Because this is so terrible for water quality TTF has been working with groups like Wissahickon, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Fairmount Park and neighborhood organizations to build city appropriate storm water management facilities that give rain water more chances to seep into the ground – Mother Nature’s best scrub brush.

The mantra for these types of facilities, which residents visited Sunday was: “Trap the storm water, hold it for a while and slowly release it,” Fries said. And preferably, release it into the ground.

Thanks to the efforts of all these groups, this section of town is filled with these facilities. In Awbury Arboretum, long storm water bioswales line Washington Lane filled with water loving plants to suck up the dirty street water and put it to good use. They work in combination with a restored wetland meant to allow a nearby stream time to seep into the ground and a water-gulping wildflower meadow, which helps de-saturate the earth.

At hilly Cliveden Park there are terraced mini-storm water detention pools that slow down street runoff and give it time to nourish the hillside before collecting in a wetland at the bottom of the park. But one of the most stealthy water management features is at the Waterview Recreation Center at 5826 McMahon Street.

Several hundred feet of pavement line the front of the grounds and a line of trees and shrubs are planted behind it, which seems normal enough. But dump a jug of water here and this sidewalk will drink it up like a thirsty camel. This porous concrete covers specially designed underground filtration beds, which help nourish those trees and keep the street drains dry. And under the roofline of the large building are flow-through planters that use the roof runoff to feed mini rain gardens.

But the biggest and most recent effort in the area is the soon-to-begin Model Neighborhood project on the 6300 block of Ross Street. Here, TTF is helping the Water Department install one of the city’s first green storm water maintenance systems on a residential street. It is part of PWD’s $1.6 billion plan to clean up the city’s combined sewer and storm water system by doing exactly the kinds of things already at work at Awbury, Cliveden Park and Waterview, only on streets covering roughly 60 percent of the city.

Holding water resource tours was one of the ways all the groups involved hoped to build a buzz of interest for this effort, so it could expand all over the city. And a buzz does seem to be growing. TTF’s most recent attempt is getting attention as far away as Maine these days - specifically by the company Tom’s of Maine.

TTF recently made it to the finals of a Tom’s of Maine American Idol-style grant contest for nonprofits all over the country. Tom’s of Maine is a maker of natural personal care products, made without artificial ingredients and without animal testing. If TTF gets enough Internet votes before October 30 for its “Eyesores to Assets” proposal, the organization will be able to transform a vacant Northwest lot into a park, complete with the same kind of storm water management infrastructure featured in the tour.

To vote choose “Eyesores to Assets” at tomsofmaine.com/community-involvement. Or visit http://ttfwatershed.org for a link.

First Draft of New Zoning Code Gets Mixed Review

The Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission embarked on the second phase of its multi-year revamp of the city’s zoning laws Wednesday, October 7, with a public meeting in City Council chambers to discuss the first draft recommendations for the new code. Here, Chair of the Commission and Planning Commission Executive Director Alan Greenberger (far right), flanked by members of the commission, addresses the assembly.


Staff Writer

At City Hall on Wednesday October 7, the Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission began the second phase of its multi-year effort to totally revamp zoning guidelines. And in the first public forum on the specifics of the new code, the important draft document got mixed reviews.

“We are re-writing this code for the city of Philadelphia and the re-write starts now,” said Commission Chair and Planning Commission Executive Director Alan Greenberger. “The words are very important.”

The 31-member commission was formed out of a May, 2007 charter change referendum calling for a publicly-engaged zoning overhaul. The commission members include City Councilmembers Darrell Clarke, Frank DiCicco, Bill Green and Brian O’Neill; Susan Jaffe, chair of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment; Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections Frances Burns, City Council and Mayoral appointees, real estate developers, and other business and community representatives. 

Since 2007 the commission used public meetings, surveys and interviews and it has relied heavily on consultants from Clarion Associates, LLC and Duncan Associates to assess the current 642-pages of zoning code. It found a good deal of the code to be broken or out of date. Now, through a series of public hearings in October and February, the commission hopes to roll out a new, more concise, effective and easy-to-use code by June 30, 2010. Key to that, all seem to think, will be public feedback on the details of the new draft code – the words presented for the first time last Wednesday night.

“This document must work for all of us,” said Mayor Michael Nutter at the hearing. “Public participation is essential to this process.”

Mixed Reception

But while most speakers there praised the work of the commission and seemed to agree with many of its goals, which include reducing the numbers of zoning districts in the city, simplifying the approval process for new building projects, protecting neighborhoods and promoting sustainability and quality design, many also criticized the details of the new recommendations.

Matt Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association, pointed out some key lines in the Common Procedures and Requirements section of Chapter 14 that he thought would effectively shut down community involvement in neighborhood development.

On the subject of neighborhood meetings prior to applications for zoning variances, something that is common in the Northwest as well as Northern Liberties, the passage that Ruben pointed out in the draft recommendations reads: “Where neighborhood meetings are required, the applicant is generally responsible for convening, publicizing, conduct[ing], recording attendance and documenting the results of the meeting.”

To Ruben, putting official control of these meetings in the hands of developers (applicants) just wasn’t that smart. 

“This is not a prescription for meaningful public input,” he said. “As this language exists it is a prescription for not having meaningful public input. This language, as it is, is a total non-starter for our communities.”

SCRUB, a legal advocacy group for public spaces, saw other holes in the document.

“The Draft Recommendations currently provide no protections preventing the conveyance of Parkland,” said a memo from SCRUB Executive Director Mary Tracy to the commission.

She was particularly concerned with how the new code would make sure the parks remained public space since the 142-year old Fairmount Park Commission was officially dissolved in June and control of the 9,200-acre system now falls under the newly reorganized Department of Parks and Recreation. 

“There was just a great vacuum where parkland was concerned,” she told the commission. “Now that Fairmount Park no longer exists there should be some very definite regulations for how to use that land.”

SCRUB also saw substantial shortcomings with regulations for all types of outdoor signs in the new code recommendations. Outside of the hearing Tracy called it “the corruption of zoning” that she did not detect provisions in the new document that provided legal standing for residents in general zoning matters.

“The City’s got to find a way to get the community and citizens to have standing in these proceedings,” she said. “The city needs to address that or we’re doomed.”

More Input Needed

Lead consultant Don Elliott of Clarion Associates said he expected the release of the draft recommendations, which are available at www.zoningmatters.org, to spur lots of public tweaks like these. In fact, he was counting on it, calling it a critical part of getting things right as the process moves forward.

“How do you engage the community meaningfully, while allowing investors to have some predictability about what they want to build?” he said after the hearing of Ruben and Tracy’s points on public standing. “It’s a balancing that we’ll have to strike over the next year.”

Among the many goals of the new zoning code, Elliott highlighted revamping the public hearings process and reducing the number of Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) hearings as two of the top priorities. Chief among the unneeded ZBA activities, Elliott said, were all its use variance hearings.

“Most cities have done away with this,” he said of use variances.

Yet use variances are extremely common in Mt. Airy and Germantown. Typically, if a property owner wants to do something that is not permitted in the property’s zoning, say converting a large single home into apartments, that owner applies for a permit and gets refused, and that refusal, which necessitates a ZBA hearing, is what spurs community engagement.

This process tends to put communities and developers on opposing sides of the discussion, Elliott said. Instead he wanted to see community members and developers get together in a much more structured set of meetings before any applications are filed. Doing this with the help of a new zoning code that more accurately reflects the trends and desires of the neighborhoods should not only reduce the need for use variances but also speed up the process if matters do require a ZBA hearing, according to the draft recommendations.

Fewer Districts

One of the major efforts of the zoning commission at simplifying the code will be to reduce the number of base zoning districts from 55 to 32 and the number of overlay districts from 33 to 11. In most of Mt. Airy and Germantown the base districts are zoned residential or commercial, with industrial zoning in a few areas. Most overlay districts in Philadelphia tend to occur in Center City, or along commercial corridors, like Germantown Avenue. And where an overlay exists “on top” of a base district, the rules of the overlay take precedence.

The Zoning Code Commission wants to simplify the rules for both types of zoning districts so they are more predictable from location to location, which should cut down on red tape and ZBA activity. A possible example for this simplification in Germantown might be an overlay district introduced about a year ago, which essentially bans braiding salons and mobile cell phone stores, among other things, on a stretch of Germantown Avenue and along Chelten Avenue between Wayne Avenue and 200 East Chelten. If those kinds of businesses seem popular in that area now, they either existed before the overlay took effect or they have already received a variance from the ZBA – a variance that might not be necessary if the zoning rules change.

Thousands of Amendments

According to Eve Gladstein, the executive director of the commission, one reason for all these different types of zoning categories has to do with the fact that the code, though it has been added to many times, has never really been reconciled to real life use patterns since 1962.

“It’s been amended thousands of times with very tiny amendments,” she said. “Which has made it confusing to use.”

Some strategies for bringing the new code into the future include instituting zoning rules that encourage things like transit-oriented development, such as the Planning Commission has suggested for places like Wayne Junction, and “green” land uses such as limited farming, Elliott said.

But even the 31-member commission did not have all the likely trends in zoning figured out at last Wednesday’s meeting. Amir Tavelderon, who wants to take advantage of the new state and federal incentives for investing in residential solar panels, brought up something Greenberger called a real “21st Century Question.”

“What are my rights to sunshine?” he asked.

No one had an answer.

The zoning commission plans to hold more public meetings this month, and another round in February, 2010. Then it will release the revised code in three parts going through the spring. Eve Gladstein thought the commission would likely ask City Council to extend the project (expected to cost about $2 million in total) for at least another year to make sure the code is as complete as it can be before it goes up for a City Council vote.

But even once the new code is in place, Greenberger estimated it would take another two to four years for the Planning Commission to apply it to city land maps.

Luckily, Germantown residents might not need to wait nearly that long before some local zoning improvements take hold. In a separate effort, the Planning Commission wants to vet its ideas about updating some of the commercial district zoning near and along Chelten Avenue in the October 22 Germantown Community Connection meeting at First Presbyterian Church, at 35 West Chelten Avenue, at 7 p.m. 

For additional information about the Zoning Code Commission and how to attend its meetings call 215-683-4615 or visit www.zoningmatters.org.

First Friday is Makeover Night at One Salon and Boutique

Michael Aimone and Tiffani Ulshafer, part of the One Salon makeover team,  Ulshafer, have a “hands-on” discussion about what directions to go with Maribel Beas’s new ‘do.


Staff Writer

Once a month, One Salon and Boutique at the corner of Durham Street and Germantown Avenue has a special kind of night - the kind where a local mom might find it a little easier to keep up with a daughter who’s getting ready for her bat mitzvah.

It’s Makeover Night, and every First Friday some lucky entrant wins a free transformation. 

“My daughter actually wrote my name in,” said this month’s winner, Mt. Airy resident Maribel Beas, as she sat in salon owner Amy Lydon’s chair. “She got very excited.” 

Camilla Beas, age 13, will have her big day November 21. She’ll be coming to One Salon to get ready, and the idea that Mom would have a chance to try out a new look before then was icing on the cake. For Maribel it was pretty special too, even a little thrilling.

“It’s nice to get something done that you don’t know what it’s going to be,” she said. She only had a few boundaries for how far the One Salon crew could go with things. “I don’t want to be a blond,” she said.

The rules are simple for Makeover Night: bring your hair and your sense of adventure and let Lydon and the rest of the One Salon crew, Tiffani Ulshafer and Michael Aimone do the rest. 

For the three of them the night has become a creative bonding experience with a little more experimentation and collaboration than your average cut and color. After all, it’s a makeover - there are certain expectations.

Joining Beas in the chairs that night were local resident Sue Ann Rybak and owner of Mt. Airy’s Mr. Peepers’, Catalina Bautista. Bautista was there, in part, to help Lydon test out a new line of hair color products.

“I’ve always had gray coming through, so this is an extreme makeover,” she joked.

In the end, all the participants got a cut and Beas and Bautista got a new color, while Rybak went with highlights. But for each there was a healthy creative stretch involved,  much of it coming down to the process. On Makeover Night there is no singular relationship between customer and stylist – it’s about collaboration where the stylists spend as much time convincing one another of the artistic directions to take as anything else.

“They all had their opinions,” said Beas after the work was done. “And then they came up with something that they all liked, and that’s what they did.”

For the customers there is a little adventure involved. But for Beas the stylists were so supportive it made even the hassle of dealing with Triple A and a dead car battery into a good time. The contest winner had to make several trips back and forth to her car during the night but the smile on her face never seemed to fade.

The result, by the end of First Friday, is usually something new.

“It was shorter than what I used to have,” Beas said after the excitement was over and her new look had sunk in. “I don think I would have done it like that, but I love it.”

Camilla Beas loved it too. And the One Salon makeover crew has won points from tough judges before the Beas experience. Electrician and recent makeover recipient John Siemiarowski stopped by on Makeover Night to check in. Thanks to the efforts at One Salon his daughter has stopped calling him Jerry Garcia, Siemiarowski said.

The atmosphere on Makeover Night is fun and lively and there tends to be more than a little anticipation in the air as the stylists dart around among the customers. But it never seems to surprise Ulshafer, Aimone or Lydon when things work out well. Even though styles may change from year to year, the basics of a good look tend to stick around.

“You have the two eyes and ears, a nose and a mouth and it all lines up to get a symmetric look,” Aimone said. That’s the main job of a stylist, according to him: to create the appearance of balance and symmetry with details. And anyway, he said, “God didn’t make any ugly people.”

For information about One Salon and Boutique, call 215-242-0113.

Stop the Draft Event

Twenty-three peace groups will hold a Stop the Draft Peace Event near the home of Senator Arlen Specter from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, October 18, on West Schoolhouse Lane (at Vaux Street) in Germantown. They want Specter to cut off funding for the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. On this date in 1967, thousands of young people defied the U.S. occupation of Vietnam by turning in their draft cards at induction centers around the nation. For information e-mail nwgreens@yahoo.com or call 215-843-4256.

Whodunnit? Solve the Crime Yourself at Maxwell Mansion

On October 24 and 31, 6-9 p.m., and October 25 and November 1, 2:30-5:30 p.m., visit the Maxwell Mansion, 200 West Tulpehocken Street, to unravel an all-new murder mystery – Murder in the Animal Kingdom - at an event that borrows from the game of “Clue.”  Guests move from room to room in the Mansion where they are greeted by professional actors portraying suspects in this whodunit.  At the end of the experience those who solve the mystery will be entered in a drawing for a gift bag containing two tickets to the Philadelphia Zoo and other items. 

In Murder in the Animal Kingdom, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Philadelphia Zoo its President Sir Graeme Lyon throws a Halloween party at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion.  He invites all of his family, friends, and enemies – requesting they all come in animal costumes for the occasion.  Just before Sir Graeme is to name his successor, someone at the party murders him.

Can you follow the clues and find out who done it?  Suspects include Mr. Horace Trunk, Mrs. Erica Arachne, Miss Ingrid Duckling, Miss Cora Longneck and Ms. Alexandra Purr, just to name a few.

Tickets are $14. Tickets for groups of six or more are $12 each. Call Diane at 215-438-1861 for tickets or visit www.ebenezermaxwellmansion.org/events to buy tickets online.

Family Fun at ‘Whispers Along the Wissahickon’

Welcome the fall season with a hauntingly fun party. The Friends of the Wissahickon will be hosting their popular autumn fund-raiser Whispers Along the Wissahickon on Friday, Oct.23, sponsored by Valley Green Bank.  The event will take place at the Wissahickon Environmental Center up the hill from the intersection of Forbidden Drive and Northwestern Avenue from 5:30-9 p.m. 

“This is Valley Green Bank’s fourth year as lead sponsor of Whispers Along the Wissahickon,” says Jay Goldstein, President and CEO of Valley Green Bank. “It is always a pleasure to support Whispers and Friends of the Wissahickon’s accomplishments as they continue to maintain the Park’s vitality.”

This family-friendly fall celebration offers spooky hayrides, scary face painting, awesome magic, live music, and creative crafts for hands-on fun. Everyone is encouraged to come in costume.

Proceeds from Whispers Along the Wissahickon will benefit the Friends of the Wissahickon, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the Wissahickon Valley. FOW restores historical structures throughout the park, eliminates invasive plant species, partners with multiple local organizations to monitor watershed management issues, and is working on a multi-year plan to restore trails throughout the park system. Their work protects the Wissahickon watershed and preserves the natural and historical features of this spectacular urban wilderness for future generations.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Price includes food, beverages, beer, and wine. Tickets are limited,. This is a rain or shine event.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call FOW at 215-247-0417 or visit www.fow.org

Halloween Fun at Historic Sites

Join the sites of Historic Germantown this month for plenty of Halloween fun and spooks in Freedom’s Backyard.  Several historic sites will host seasonal programs for family and friends of all ages. 

Historic Germantown will offer a family-friendly Cemetery Stroll on Saturday, Oct. 17, noon - 4 p.m.  Enjoy an afternoon stroll through some of the area’s most historic cemeteries, and learn about the fascinating characters buried there.  This self-guided, driving-walking tour begins at the Upper Burying Ground and Concord School, 6309 Germantown Avenue, and visits the graveyard at Mennonite Meetinghouse, as well as the Hood Cemetery and Fairhill Burying Ground. Included in the program is a children’s scavenger hunt activity, and a seasonal snack.  Admission is $15,  free for ages 12 and under. Proceeds benefit burying grounds’ preservation.  For information, e-mail to info@freedomsbackyard.com or call 215-844-1683. 

On Saturday, Oct. 24, Historic RittenhouseTown hosts the “Spirits of the Wissahickon” lantern tour. The “spirits” of the Rittenhouse family will be there to greet guests, talk about life in colonial times, make paper, prepare colonial German food, write with quill and ink, demonstrate carpentry skills, discuss medicine, sew sweet bags and knit.  Tours are offered from 6-9 p.m. Visit rittenhousetown.org for details.

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion presents their chilling annual “Murder Mystery” on Oct. 24 and 31 from 6-9:40 p.m., as well as Oct. 25 and November 1 from 2:30-4:30 p.m.  Guests will tour the mansion for a “Clue”-like exploration in order to determine who the murderer is, the location of the murder, and the weapon.  This year’s theme is “Death in the Animal Kingdom.”

For details visit ebenezermaxwellmansion.org/events or call 215-483-5711.

And on Halloween itself, Saturday, Oct. 31, Stenton will offer a ghost tour of their historic grounds from noon-4 p.m.  Tour the mansion for a creepy experience with past “residents” that is sure to leave visitors spooked.  Arrive in costume and the $4 admission fee will be waived.  Call 215-329-7312 or visit stenton.org for details. 

Historic Germantown is a consortium of fourteen cultural and historic sites located in Northwest Philadelphia.  Our mission is to foster an appreciation of the diverse character and meaning of our cultural heritage to preserve and revitalize our community.

For  information about Historic Germantown, visit freedomsbackyard.org.

Ghost of the Great Road: Does a Long-Dead Bridegroom Haunt the Avenue?

Christian Gilberti stands at the top of the stairs in the Billmeyer House where ghostly footsteps have been reported.

The Daniel Billmeyer House


Guest Writer

Editor’s note: this is the first of three pre-Halloween articles by Rink Fink, education director of Cliveden of the National Trust, on the ghostly legends of Germantown Avenue.

Christian Gilberti, a junior at Germantown Friends School, has heard plenty of accounts about ghosts in his historic home.  While he states that he “has experienced nothing particular” in the house, he does acknowledge finding comfort in the fact that his bedroom “only has one entrance and one exit.”

Christian and his family currently reside at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Upsal Street in a home commonly referred to as the Daniel L. Billmeyer House.  The home took its name from a wealthy businessman, Daniel L. Billmeyer, who built the house in 1793.  At the time of construction, Germantown was serving as a temporary capital for the United States as the yellow fever epidemic ravaged downtown Philadelphia.   

It is from the yellow fever outbreak that the origins of a long-standing ghost story begin.  From a house tour manual put together by the Germantown Historical Society in the late 20th century, it can be determined that Billmeyer rented rooms on his property to numerous families over the years.  One of them was a recently-engaged couple who purchased the home hoping to begin a new life on fashionable Germantown Avenue.  They were living a dream for the first few months at the Billmeyer house  - until tragedy struck.

Legend has it that in late 1793 the groom-to-be died, a victim of the plague spreading across Philadelphia at the time. It also happened to be the eve of the couple’s wedding.  Numerous articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer during the 1960s recount this event, claiming that any bride-to-be who sleeps in the master bedroom can hear the footsteps of the groom climbing the stairs to claim his bride.  

The ghost story at the Billmeyer house was spread in the 20th century when the Smith family purchased the home. In 1959, Carol, the oldest child of the Smith family, was sleeping in the master bedroom on the eve of her wedding.  That night Carol heard footsteps running up the stairs.  When the mysterious footsteps reached the top of the stairs, there was a breathless pause.  As a 1968 article titled “175-Year-Old Ghost Still Goes Haunting” recalls, the “footsteps then continued slowly, sadly, down the backstairs.”

That was just the beginning of the supernatural activity for the Smith family.  While in the Billmeyer House, Mrs. Manning Smith, mother of Carol, said she had several encounters with resident poltergeists.  She described the spirits as “mischievous, but very friendly” and that there “were literally dozens of these noisy creatures.” The noisy ghosts hid important papers, moved furniture across rooms, and left the house disorderly on numerous occasions.  “Some persons have suggested that I misplace the things,” stated Mrs. Smith, “but I know better, it’s the poltergeists.”

As a result, she invited over 100 experts in extra-sensory perception into her home in 1960 to determine if the house was haunted.  All investigators said they were certain they felt “presences” in the home, some even noting a man standing in the corner of the living room.  The psychics stated that the man was “standing there watching us since we entered the room.”  Could this have been the spirit of Daniel Billmeyer looking after his home?

Apparently noticing the popularity of her “haunted house” within the Philadelphia media, Mrs. Smith opened up her home to curious tourists in the late 1960s.  Charging $10 for ghost hunts and tours, Mrs. Smith advertised in the Philadelphia Inquirer for adventures with her resident poltergeists.  In a January 12, 1971 article, Mrs. Smith implored people to “get out their infrared lenses” and “join her in her home on the next full moon,” to search for the spirits.  She continued running her paranormal tours through the late 1970s and even offered overnight investigations around the Halloween holiday.

It is believed that nearly 30 families have lived in the home since the time Daniel Billmeyer began renting it out.  The latest homeowners, the Gilberti family, don’t seem to be bothered by the house’s haunted history.  Much like the ghost story printed in the Inquirer, Christian Gilberti claims to have heard footsteps on the stairs and in the hallway when nobody else was around. Additionally, it is said that the heavy dining room door frequently closes on its own without any logical explanation. 

According to Christian, the theory about future brides hearing footsteps has never been tested.  Since the Gilberti family moved into the house in 2004 no women in the house have been married. “Perhaps when my sister gets married,” Christian stated, “then we will be able to put the legend to the test.”

The Billmeyer House is currently one of six landmarks on Germantown Avenue between Johnson and Sharpnack streets that have been designated as historic by the State of Pennsylvania.  The home is a classic example of Late Georgian Federal-style architecture, and features a vintage façade and white marble steps noticeable from the Avenue.  Next time you drive by be sure to note the incredible architecture that provides a visual for Germantown’s place in revolutionary history. Also, be sure to look out for the spirit of Daniel Billmeyer and the ghosts of Germantown Avenue’s past!

Upcoming Zoning Hearings in Northwest Philadelphia

The following hearings will be held at the Zoning Board of Adjustments, 1515 Arch Street, on the 18th floor. All information is according to the Community Alerting Service of the Housing Association of Delaware Valley.

Wednesday, October 20, 9:30 a.m.: 8400 Germantown Avenue. One zoning variance, one use variance, one certification. Permit for the creation of three tenant spaces with a retail clothing store in Space A, vacant Space B and retail clothing store in space c; for the conversion of an accessory parking lot to a public parking lot with 85 spaces, including four reserved for accessibility and 15 compact spaces; and for the legalization of an existing one-story structure for use as a guard shack.

Wednesday, October 21, 9:30 a.m.:  34 E. Logan Street. One use variance. Permit for use as a nine-family residence within an existing structure.

Tuesday, October 27, 9:30 a.m.: 42 Harvey Street. Certificate for a private school grades k-6 after school program, Saturdays and summer programs in the same building with existing daycare for maximum size of six children, no children under 2 and one-half years of age for periods of less than 24 consecutive hours with accessory preparing and serving of food on first floor in the same building with one apartment on second floor of an existing detached structure.

Tuesday, October 27, 9:30 p.m.: 6316 Germantown Avenue. Permit for day care for a maximum of fifty children including a maximum of thirty children under 2 and one half years of age for periods of less than 24 hours consecutive hours with accessory preparing and serving of food on the first floor and for a two-family dwelling above.

Wednesday, October 28, 2 p.m.: 6643 Germantown Avenue. Certificate for preparing and serving of hot food within an existing retail grocery store and accessory storage 2nd floor, no sings on this application.

No More Driving While Texting, Talking

Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, chair of City Council’s  Committee on Public Safety, has issued the following alert:

Over two and a half thousand people are killed on our roads each year because motorists are talking or texting while operating a vehicle.  Engaging in such activity is extremely dangerous as the vehicle operator becomes distracted while talking on the phone or sending text messages. City Council passed a law banning the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. It is now a violation of the City code to talk on a cell phone or text message while operating a vehicle in the city.    

Starting Nov. 1, motorists who are texting or talking will be stopped by the police and  warned about this new law.  After December 1, if you’re caught using your cell phone – either texting or on a call – you’ll be fined.  All City employees need to comply with this new law, not only while operating their personal vehicles, but especially while operating City vehicles.

Do your part to help keep your city and community safe.  Set an example for your family, friends and neighbors.  Do not talk on a cell phone or text while driving.

Slave Trade Documentary at Calvary

As part of the celebration of its 150th Anniversary, on Saturday, October 24, at 2 p.m. Calvary Episcopal Church, Germantown will  host a free screening of “Traces of the Trade” in the church’s auditorium, which is located on the second floor of the Parish House.  In the feature documentary “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” filmmaker Katrina Browne discovers that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine cousins retrace the Triangle Trade and gain a powerful new perspective on the black/white divide.  Browne will appear at the screening. Light refreshments will be served.

Homecoming with Family and Friends and Holy Eucharist will be held Sunday, October 25. There will be one service, at 3 p.m. The speaker will be Katrina Brown, who will lecture concerning “Traces of the Trade.” Come and share this festive day in the life of the Church and the Community.  A reception will follow the service in the Parish House.

Calvary Episcopal Church is located at 5020 Pulaski Avenue (corner of Manheim Street and Pulaski Avenue).  The Rev. Dr. Mother Lula Grace Smart is the rector. For information call 215  843-0853.

Enon to Clean Community Centers

Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church will begin its “Eight Days of Glory Fall Revival” with a Missions Blitz Project in thirty-three recreation and community centers throughout the Philadelphia area. Enon is soliciting 1500 volunteers to assist in completing this clean-up, fix-up campaign which will take place on Saturday Oct. 17, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Volunteers will paint, clean, do landscaping and distribute sandwiches as part of Enon’s ongoing commitment to servicing communities in and around Philadelphia.

A partial list of sites at which Enon will provide services includes Germantown High School, Campbell Square, Teen Challenge, Stenton Park Playground, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, Ferko Recreation Center, Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club, Awbury Recreation Center, Nicetown Boys and Girls Club, Cliveden Park, Friends Neighborhood Guild, Cecil B. Moore Rec. Ctr, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, Fetterell Square Rec. Ctr., Palmer Playground, Cohocksink Rec. Ctr., Fish Hatchery Recreation Center, McPherson Square, Disston Recreation Center, Hawthorne Cultural Center.

For more information and sites contact Minister Kevin Murphy at 215 276-7200.

Homecoming at Grace Baptist

On October 18, the Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street, will hold its Homecoming Day and New Members’ Fellowship Service in observance of the 117th Church Anniversary.  The theme will be “Christ-Centered, Becoming Faithful Stewards,” Matthew 25:21, 23.

The guest speaker for the day will be Rev. Dr. Albert D. Mosley, Chaplain of the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center and former pastor of Janes Memorial United Methodist Church.  He will deliver the word of God during the 10:55 a.m. Sunday service on October 18. All are invited.  A reception will be held in the James Murray Social Hall of the church immediately following the service.

For information, contact the church office at 215-438-3215.

Concert Series at St. Luke’s

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Germantown, 5421 Germantown Avenue, opens its new concert series with a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass on Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., celebrating the bicentennial of the composer’s death.

The concert will feature soloists Eleanor Macchia, Donna Walters, Siddhartha Misra, and John McCarthy. The St. Cecilia Choir of St. Luke’s Church is the chorus, accompanied by organist Nile Weber and the Rittenhouse Strings. Cailin Manson, founder of the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts, will conduct the performance.

The series is presented by the Music Department of St. Luke’s Church for the enjoyment and cultural enrichment of the community, keeping with the church’s long tradition of excellent liturgical music and concerts. The concerts are facilitated by the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts, a new intensive vocal program that seeks to foster and nurture the vocal talents of aspiring classical singers of any age. GIVA is based at St. Luke’s, and opened its doors in July.

Admission is free, and a free will offering will be taken. All donations aid the concert series and the work of the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts.

For information call the church at 215-844-8544 or the GIVA at 215-844-9410, or visit www.stlukesgermantown.org and www.germantownvocalarts.org.

Community Grants from FUMCOG

First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) is again looking to support projects that promote social justice and peace in the local community. By setting aside our upcoming Christmas offering, we hope to award several small grants of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to help facilitate worthy community endeavors.

All proposals are welcome and are reviewed by a committee of church members. Selection criteria in awarding grants include the size of the population to be served, the nature of the services provided, and expected benefits to the community.

Grants from previous Easter and Christmas collections have been awarded on a nondenominational basis to a diverse group of applicants for a wide variety of causes. Monies from the recent Easter Collection were used to purchase tools for a neighborhood self help group, support creation of a new after school program for sheltered children, assist a neighborhood renovation project, and extend a program to help prevent home foreclosures.

Application forms can be obtained by calling the office of First United Methodist Church of Germantown at 215-438-3677, or request a form online at http://www.FUMCOG.org.

For consideration, completed proposals must be returned to the church office at 6001 Germantown Ave., no later than Friday, Nov. 20. Organizations with non-profit tax-exempt status should include a copy of their 501-c-3 certification. Recipients will be notified of their selection by December 11. Funds should be awarded in January.

200th Anniversary at 1st Pres.

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Presbyterian in Germantown, 35 East Chelten Avenue, on Saturday, October 17 with a catered buffet featuring poached salmon, beef tenderloin, and Chicken Florentine. Come celebrate with us.  All in attendance will receive a copy of a special DVD documenting our 200 years of ministry and mission in Germantown. The cost is $30.

Please RSVP to 215-843-8811. Tickets can be purchased on Sunday in Longstreth Auditorium.

On Sunday, October 18, there will be a Bicentennial worship service and unveiling of an anniversary plaque during the 10 a.m. worship service.

Then at 3 p.m. Cameron Carpenter, organist, will perform in concert.  Holding master’s and bachelor’s degrees from The Julliard School, Carpenter has studied with Gerre Hancock, John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs.  He is known as “the ultimate maverick of the U.S. organ community.”

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6671 Germantown Avenue, will hold its annual flea market and Children’s Book Drive on Oct. 17, noon– 4 p.m., to benefit the Eleanor C. Emlen Elementary School.  This event is a part of an ongoing partnership between the school and the church in an effort to gather community support for the school’s success. 

Community members can participate by renting space ($15 per space), donating children’s books (new or gently used), donating items for sale and coming out for a day of shopping, food and activities for children. The project has received a matching grant of $800 from Communities that Care Funds of the Philadelphia Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Come out and help us reach our goal!

For information call 215-380-0842.

Trinity Lutheran Church Women’s Day 2009 Prayer Breakfast

The Trinity Lutheran Church Women’s Day committee will hold its first 2009 Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m.  Guest speaker for the morning will be Karla Johnson, First Lady of New Life Baptist Church in Colwyn, PA.  Join us for a morning of fellowship.  The Theme is “Woman Thou Art Loosed.”  For information or to reserve a seat call 215-848-8150 or 215-869-2335. Trinity Lutheran Church is located 5300 Germantown Avenue at Queen Lane. Offstreet parking is provided.

Woodcrest United Church of Christ, Mt. Pleasant and Thouron avenues, will celebrate Unity Day at the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, October 18. The Rev. Carolyn E. Wright, pastor of Woodcrest, will be the speaker. The theme for the day is “One shepherd, one flock, working in love and perfect unity.” Music will be provided by the Gospel Choir under the direction of Cheryl Woodmire, with Catherine Ford at the piano. Visitors are invited to participate in the service and the fellowship meal following. For information call the church at 215-242-2227.

Summit Presybterian Church, 6757 Greene Street (at the corner of Westview Street)  is celebrating 125 years of ministry on the weekend of October 17 and 18.   

The celebrations will begin with a banquet on Saturday, October 17, from 6:30-10 p.m. The program will include reflections on Summit’s history, music and dancing.  All from the community are welcome; tickets are $35.  Call Angela at 215-438-2825 or e-mail to angela@summitpres.net  to make reservations.  

The worship service on Sunday morning, October 18,  at 10 a.m. will be a festive one of praise and thanksgiving with the participation of former pastors.  The Reverend Cheryl Pyrch will preach and the Summit Handbell Choir will premier a piece by Thomas Whitman, a Mt. Airy resident and professor of music at Swarthmore college. All are welcome.

PHS Announces City Gardens Contest Winners

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is honoring the contributions of hundreds of city gardeners for their efforts in transforming their own back yards, neighborhoods and communities across Philadelphia.

This year, close to 400 individuals and groups entered the 35th annual City Gardens Contest. Categories included school gardens, community parks, flower and vegetable gardens, children’s gardens, container gardens, garden blocks and more. Volunteer judges visited each site over the summer and 150 winners were chosen. A full list of winners is available at the PHS http://www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/aboutus/09citygardenswinners.htm.

The winners will be honored at the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show, “Passport to the World,” to be held February 28 – March 7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

 Launched in 1975, the contest is open to all Philadelphia residents and recognizes amateur gardeners for their dedication, creativity and maintenance of gardening projects in the city. For information visit www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org.

Northwest winners included:

Combination Vegetable/Flower Gardens category

  1. (includes small, mid-sized, large, very large, and first-year gardens) - First Place, Hansberry Garden and Nature Center, Wayne Avenue and Hansberry Street; Third Place, Awbury Arboretum Community Garden, 6330 Ardleigh Street

Garden Blocks (window boxes and sidewalk planters)

  1. Second Place, Chestnut Hill Garden District, 7600 - 8600 Germantown Avenue.

  2. Community Parks (small, mid-sized, large) - First Place, Cloverly Park, Wissahickon Avenue and Schoolhouse Lane; Second Place,

  3. Cliveden Park, 6415 Musgrave Street. 

Vegetable Gardens - Second place

  1. Tippy and Tula Community Garden, 132 West Apsley Street.

 Individual Categories

Container Gardens (includes balconies, patios, decks, and rooftops)

  1. Second Place, Veronica Shelton, Germantown.

Flower Gardens (mini, small, mid-sized, large)

  1. First Place, Iris Brown, Chestnut Hill; Susan Smith, Chestnut Hill. Second Place, Shirley Daly, Mt. Airy; Thomas Duffy, Chestnut Hill; Joann Hyle, Chestnut Hill; Ed Rice and Ken Oakes, Mt. Airy. Third place, Brian Ames, Mt. Airy; Earl Eberwein, Chestnut Hill; Charlie Heiser, Mt. Airy. 

LIHEAP Cash Grant Enrollment to Open Nov. 2

State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington has announced that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will open its cash grant enrollment for the 2009-10 heating season on November 2.  The crisis program is set to open for enrollment January 4, 2010. 

LIHEAP provides cash grants to help low-income households pay for home heating fuel and crisis grants to address heating emergencies. While the Department of Public Welfare originally considered opening LIHEAP on December 1 due to funding concerns, a recent increase in federal funding will allow it to open November 2.

Cash grants are based on income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. Crisis grants are provided to resolve heating emergencies, such as furnace failures or unexpected fuel shortages. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel that they use. 

Washington is urging those families who are eligible for LIHEAP to visit county assistance offices, local utility companies and community service agencies, such as Area Agencies on Aging or community action agencies for applications. Applications for LIHEAP cash grants will also be available online at compass.state.pa.us.  Consumers can also contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Monday through Friday (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886).

Household sizes and income limits for eligibility requirements for the 2009-10 season are as follows:

1 - $16,245; 2 - $21,855; 3 - $27,465; 4 - $33,075; 5 - $38,685; 6 - $44,295; 7 - $49,905; 8 - $55,515. For each additional person add $5,610.

Visit www.turnsealsave.org to learn about available assistance programs, energy conservation and home weatherization tips.

‘Brew Out’ at Cliveden

The Cliveden Brewers will host an open Brew-Out on Saturday, October 17 and invite the public to come and learn about the process of brewing.  The event will take place at Cliveden, a National Historic Landmark located at 6401 Germantown Avenue, and will feature the crafting of Cliveden’s own 2009 Holiday Beer. 

Beginners and experienced brewers are welcome to become part of this Cliveden tradition. The brewing will start at 10 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m.  All brewing will take place on the Cliveden parking lot behind the Carriage House.

The Cliveden Brewers are Mt. Airy’s only homebrewing club.  The Brewers’ efforts support programming at Cliveden as well as education about beer and brewing.  For information call Phillip Seitz, Cliveden’s Curator of History and Fermentation, at 215-848-1777, extension 230.

Tour Houses of East Falls

The self-guided East Falls House Tour will be held on Sunday, Oct. 18, from noon to 4 p.m.  The tour will include a number of homes  – from rowhouses to twins to singles. This year, one of the homes has been completely gutted and now is a model of green construction and design.  In keeping with the green theme, the tour will also offer a display and short presentation on how flower boxes and rainbarrels can help conserve water  and prevent runoff. 

Tour-goers should come to the Garden by the Falls of Schuylkill Library, 3501Midvale Avenue, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 18, to pick up program books and map. Tickets may be purchased at that time for $20.  For information, call 215-438-1929 or email mary.flournoy1@gmail.com. The tour is sponsored by the East Falls Community Council.

The owners of the green house have created a bright, airy open floor plan, using sustainable, natural, and often recycled materials throughout the 19th century house, which features a  95 percent-efficient HVAC system and amazing new roof deck with Trex and a green roof.  They and some of the other owners will display pictures taken before renovations.  The tour will include the Lace in Translation exhibit at the Design Center at Philadelphia University, plus a visit to another special building on the campus.  The program book includes coupons for five East Falls restaurants.

Food Workshops at Wyck

This fall, take the opportunity to learn more about food through a series of workshops at Wyck Historic House, 6026 Germantown Avenue. 

How did people survive the winter before the days of grocery stores and refrigerators? Foodways historian Clarissa Dillon, Ph.D., will lead a presentation on historic methods of preserving food, including canning, root cellaring, salting, pickling, and fermentation. She will also discuss the importance of the kitchen garden and draw on recipes from the expansive collection at Wyck. Participants will also make “kitchen pepper.” The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 24,  2:30-4:30 p.m. Fees are $12 non-members, $10 members.

Then on Saturday, October 31, Wyck offers two programs: “Garlic” and “Seed Saving.”

Join Wyck’s Home Farm manager Landon Jefferies to take a morning foray into the world of garlic, often referred to as the “stinking rose.” Participants will learn how to plant garlic and how to harvest and cure it. There will also be a garlic tasting. It takes place at 11 a.m. Fees are $7 non-members, $5 members.

At 2 p.m., join Nancy Wygant, assistant gardener at Historic Bartram’s Gardens, for a workshop about how to save seeds. Fees are $7 non-members, $5 members.

For information about workshops, contact Lori Litchman, Education Program Coordinator, at llitchman@wyck.org  or visit wyck.org.

FOW Talk on the Wissahickon

Join the Friends of the Wissahickon on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m., for a discussion with Carol Franklin and David Contosta, authors of Metropolitan Paradise: Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley, 1620—2020. This soon-to-be-published book  documents the social, political, and ecological shifts that have shaped the lower Wissahickon Valley, including Wissahickon Valley Park. The discussion will take place at Valley Green Inn. A wine and cheese reception follows.

Franklin is a founding principal of Andropogon Associates, Ltd., and also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in sustainable landscape design. Contosta is a professor of history at Chestnut Hill College. He is the preeminent historian of the Wissahickon Valley and is the author of 15 books, including Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

This lecture is presented by the FOW in partnership with the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Register by contacting FOW at davisjones@fow.org or call 215-247-0417 ext. 104. Space is limited.

NIM Mural

The Neighborhood Interfaith Movement and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program invite the northwest Philadelphia community to the dedication NIM’s 40th Anniversary mural at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18.  The mural, “Walking Together,” will be dedicated in honor of Elaine Dushoff, a longtime NIM board member and member of the Germantown Jewish Centre, to acknowledge her more than 30 years of service to the interfaith and broader community.

Also acknowledged will be artists Paul Downie and Dave Woods, who conceived the vision for the mural and who have spent the last several months creating it on the south-facing wall of NIM”s office, 7047 Germantown Avenue, and the 60 congregations and organizations that comprise NIM’s membership, each of which will have tiles placed to represent them on the mural itself. 

Speakers at the event will include the artists, NIM Executive Director Rabbi George Stern, and Mural Arts Director Jane Golden. There will also be musical performances and refreshments will be served. For more information about the event, please call Eric Wilden at 215-843-5600, extension 104.

New Writing Series at Big Blue Marble

Big Blue Marble Bookstore and local writer Minter Krotzer are teaming up to present a new reading series designed for writers and writers-to-be. Listen to successful, published authors read from their latest book in the Big Blue Marble Bookstore cafe and discuss the writing process. Writers and the Process series (WAP) will start with a reading by Liz Rosenberg from her new novel Home Repair on Saturday, October 17, at 3 p.m.

Liz Rosenberg’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Paris Review and elsewhere. She has published award-winning books for young readers, prize-winning books of poems, and two documentaries have been made about her work: Six Artists Who Happen To Be Women and How A Book Is Made. Home Repair is Liz’s first adult novel. Home Repair is about a woman whose husband walks out on her in the middle of a garage sale - leaving her to contend with two growing children and a well-meaning, aging mother who moves to town to “help.” It’s a dark comedy, or a tragedy with a happy ending.

For information on this event or any other Big Blue Marble Bookstore event  contact events coordinator Maleka Fruean, e-mail maleka@bigbluemarblebooks.com and phone 215-844-1870.

Night Hike at SCEE

Children of all ages are invited to experience the wonder of a night hike, go on a hayride, and meet nocturnal creatures in The Schuylkill Center’s woodlands on Oct. 23 and 24 from 6–10 p.m. 

The Schuylkill Center’s Environmental Educators will guide children along lantern – lit trails, where they will meet “animals” such as an owl, an opossum, a bat, and a red fox.  Each “animal” will tell the children about their habitat, and provide children with a special treat for their goody bags.

After the night hike, children can take a hayride and listen for the sounds of our real nocturnal residents.  Children will also be invited to paint pumpkins from The Schuylkill Center’s pumpkin patch, roast marshmallows, and make s’mores around the campfire.

Come and see why Halloween Hikes are one of The Schuylkill Center’s favorite family events! The cost is $5 members, $7 non-members, $30 maximum per family.

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is located at 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Roxborough. For information call 215-482-7300, ext. 139 or visit www.schuylkillcenter.org.

Cheer on Marchers in Breast Cancer Walk


Editorial Staff Intern

Outfitted in a pink baseball cap with a sparkling breast cancer ribbon on the front, Christy Loomis doesn’t look like your typical super-hero.  However, to her friends and family she is one because on October 16, Friday at 7 a.m., Germantown resident Loomis will participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60-mile journey from Willow Grove Mall to The Navy Yard.

This year, about 2,750 participants will walk in the event. So far, Loomis and her team, “6+ Pray for a Cure,” have raised almost $34,000.  Every participant in The Breast Cancer 3-Day must raise $2,300 to be able to walk. The event provides participants with a 24-week virtual training program, a website for fund-raising, and scheduled training events.

“It is absolutely amazing, in an economy where people don’t have much to give, to witness that spirit of generosity,” said Loomis. 

“6+ Prayer for a Cure” is a diverse group of women ranging in age from 36 to 61. They are walking so that one day no one will have to hear the words “you have cancer,” said Loomis, who last year had a benign breast tumor removed.  Everyone is not so lucky, she said.

One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to The Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Eighty-five percent of the net proceeds from the 3-Day will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a non-profit organization that provides funding for research, treatment, prevention and education of breast cancer. Team member Louise Everett, who lives in Bowmanstown, Pa. is a breast cancer survivor thanks to breast cancer awareness and early detection. 

6+Prayer for a Cure is comprised of four sisters, a daughter, and two friends. Last year Everett was diagnosed with Stage One lobular breast cancer just before her sister, Karen McEnheimer, from Georgia, walked in the 2008 Washington, D.C. 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk.  “My five sisters and 81-year-old mother went to watch my sister Karen cross the finish line while I received six and a half weeks of radiation treatments. At the closing ceremony in Atlanta, my sisters decided to form a team and walk in Philadelphia, ‘the City of Sisterly Love’” said Everett. Everett received her last radiation treatment on December 19, 2008.

“This is an once-in-a-life-time opportunity,” she said, “ ... to make a difference for men and women who without the Susan G. Komen’s help may not get the mammograms and other medical care they need to beat breast cancer.”

“It’s a testament to who my mom is,” said Allyson Beers, Louise’s daughter, herself  a cervical cancer survivor. “I am looking forward to crossing the finish line holding my mom’s hand. Training for the grueling 60-mile walk has brought the entire family closer together. My eleven-year-old daughter Erika has walked with me every step of the way.”

“The name of our team is 6+Pray For A Cure.  Six sisters praying for the one who became a victim,” said team captain Karen McEnheimer. This will be McEnheimer’s fourth Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk.  The key is to “have fun and act crazy,” she said.

On Friday, 6+ Pray for a Cure will be out there chanting and singing their team song:

6 Plus Walkers are divine

Never will you hear us whine!

Breast Cancer we will beat!

With nuttin’ but our precious feet!

We will sleep each night in tents!

With more ladies then with Gents!

60 miles with us is fine!

Cause everyone deserves a lifetime!

Want to join 6+Pray for a Cure in their cadence? Cheer for participants at these locations in the Northwest:

Friday, October 16: 9:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Chestnut Hill, Germantown Avenue between Gravers and Hartwell Lanes.

11:45 a.m. - 4 p.m., Manayunk,  Main Street, between Gay Street and Cotton Street. Street parking is available on Cresson Street.

To make a donation to German-town’s Christy Loomis, go to


Weatherization Workshop

Concerned Neighbors of Greater Germantown Inc., 101 West Logan Street, is holding a community meeting on how to save energy in your home and to provide information on how to apply for utility assistance grants. It will be held Thursday, October 22 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Greene and Logan streets, from 6-8 p.m.

Available will be resource and service information, water conservation and weatherization applications, plus free weatherization kits.

For more information contact Marlene Pryor at 215-849-6932, Jacquelyn Corbitt at 215-844-8630, or Zeeah Enlow at 215-467-5136.

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