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Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

October 2018

Welcome to the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission electronic newsletter.

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Wall House Donations

Donation supports Historic Richard Wall House in Elkins Park


The Historic Richard Wall House in Elkins Park receives as $2,000 donation that will go toward purchasing items for its 1760-era kitchen.

The funding will go toward fireplace hearth equipment that will allow the docent to demonstrate colonial cooking to tour groups.

The donation came evenly from Steeplechasers and PA State Questers.

Pictured are, from left, Jack Washington, administrator of Richard Wall House; Mary Washington, Cheltenham Historical Commission member; Brian Hinson, Cheltenham parks and recreation director; Meryl Rose, Steeplechasers past president; Jill Kyle, Steeplechasers committee chairwoman; and Marda Craig, Steeplechasers first vice president.

This story originally appeared in the Times Chronicle.

Commission Events

Upcoming Events

October Historical Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission will be October 11th at 7:30 PM at the Richard Wall Carriage House (1 Wall Park Drive, in Elkins Park). Historical Commission Meetings are open to the public. Here is the agenda.

Community Harvest Festival

This spectacular community event promises fun for the whole family with pumpkin decorating, kid friendly games, great live music, hayrides, inflatables, a craft sale and delicious food followed by a fireworks finale at a beautiful 45-acre park in Wyncote.

SATURDAY, Oct. 13th | Rain date Oct. 14th | Noon to Dark

  • For details about being a crafter/vendor, call the Rowland Community Center at 215-379-2233.
  • For details about the FESTIVAL or being a sponsor, call the Parks and Recreation Office at 215-887-6200 ext. 227.

Civil War Day at the Richard Wall House Museum

On October 20th. from 10 AM to 4 PM, the Wall House is hosting a Civil War event. Two private collections of Civil War artifacts will be the highlight. Camp William Penn will have a display illustrating why it was so special as the first and largest of the training camps for colored soldiers in the Civil War (USCT). Re-enactors and demonstrations will also be part of the event.

Some highlights

  • Civil War collections of two Cheltenham collectors including weapons, uniforms and more.
  • Items regarding Camp William Penn and the colored soldiers who trained there.
  • Weapon demonstration with short talk.
  • United States Colored Troops and Philadelphia National Cemetery conversation.
  • Cartridge making demonstration.
  • Re-enactors talking and demonstrating examples of the soldiers’ life.
  • Films and videos throughout the day.
  • Short lecture at 2:00pm: Dr. James Paradis talk about Camp William Penn and Gettysburg.
  • Book Table

For more information, contact or call 215-885-2258 (on day of event: 215 760-6264).

Presented by the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission and the Citizens for the Restoration of Historical LaMott (CROHL).

Past Events

September Historical Commission Meeting

The last meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission was September 13th at 7:30 PM at the Richard Wall Carriage House (1 Wall Park Drive, in Elkins Park). Historical Commission Meetings are open to the public. Read the minutes from the meeting.


Camp William Penn Museum Open for the Season

The Camp William Penn Museum will be available to visitors from June 4 through end of October by reservation.
Individuals and groups are welcome. Located at 1618 Willow Avenue, La Mott, PA 19095.
Contact info: 215-885-2258 or

Camp William Penn was the first and largest Federal Civil War training camp for United States Colored Troops.

Old York Road Historical Society Lectures

The 7-30 Man: Jay Cooke and Ogontz

Join us as OYRHS Board of Directors Vice-President and author, Dr. Tom Wieckowski shares with us the life of Jay Cooke.

One of the most illustrious residents of Gilded Age Cheltenham was the banker, Jay Cooke. Cooke is best known for his heroic efforts to raise millions of dollars for federal expenses during the Civil War. After the war, he directed the construction of the Northern Pacific transcontinental railroad as well as the school that became Penn State Ogontz. 

This lecture will explore his early life and review his tenure in Chelten Hills, where he built one of the most extravagant estates yet seen in the United States. The lecture will feature recently discovered photographs of Ogontz that have not been seen publicly for 150 years. His generosity provided homes in Cheltenham for several esteemed friends as well as a new church to offer convenient access to religious services for residents of the area. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Lectures are FREE and open to the public.

Episcopal Church of Our Saviour
The Parish House, Homestead Hall
821 Homestead Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046
(east side of Old York Road, one block south of the Jenkintown Library, and one block north of West Avenue)

Trolleys of Montgomery County

Montgomery County was once served by a 140-mile network of electric trolleys. Constructed between 1893 and 1915, the independently owned trolley lines connected the far corners of the County, from Pottstown to Hatboro, Telford to Ardmore. 

Author Mike Szilagyi, will present this FREE illustrated talk which covers the length and breadth of the County with a focus on the four trolley lines that converged at Willow Grove Park. We’ll view scenes along Old York Road, its historically significant roadside traversed by large open trolleys nicknamed Dreadnaughts. Finally we’ll trace the route of the suburban Route 6 through Abington and Glenside with its long stretches of railroad-style right-of-way, and discuss why the Route 6 trolleys were replaced with General Motors diesel buses in 1958.

For more information visit:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Lectures are FREE and open to the public.

Episcopal Church of Our Saviour
The Parish House, Homestead Hall
821 Homestead Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046
(east side of Old York Road, one block south of the Jenkintown Library, and one block north of West Avenue)

Local History Lectures

One God, Many Houses

Explore the religious and cultural diversity of Cheltenham through the histories of the many houses of worship throughout the township.  Presented by Sunnie Epstein, Director, Beyachad and the Rev. Larry Sibley, VP, Jenkinstown Lyceum.

Sunday, October 7, 2018
2:00 PM 

Glenside Hall
185 S. Keswick Avenue, Glenside PA 19038

Meet Founding Father Benjamin Rush at Wissahickon Valley Public Library


He was a surgeon general for the Revolutionary War, first professor of chemistry in America, the Father of Psychiatry and a humanitarian who organized the first anti-slavery society in America. He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was Dr. Benjamin Rush.

Find out more about this lesser-known “Benjamin” from Philadelphia and Founding Father in an exciting portrayal by historical actor Bob Gleason. Meet Dr. Rush and discover his pioneering contributions to American society, medicine and politics. Watch history come alive! History buffs of all ages encouraged to attend!

Mr. Gleason’s presentation is a companion program to the “Let’s Discuss It! Author event with Upper Dublin Public Library on October 29 at 7 PM, featuring author and journalist Stephen Fried and the release of his newest novel “Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father (September, 2018).

Free Registration on Eventbrite

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Wissahickon Valley Public Library
650 West Skippack Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422

The Philadelphia Architecture of Horace Trumbauer


Discover the highlights of the homes and civic buildings designed by one of Philadelphia' greatest architects.  Trumbauer buildings include Grey Towers at Arcadia University, Lynnewood Hall, the Elkins Estate, Keswick Theater and the Jenkintown train station.  Presented by David Rowland, President, Old York Road Historical Society.

Sunday, October 21
2:00 PM 

Glenside Library
215 S Keswick Ave, Glenside, Pennsylvania 19038

Chelten Hills: First Outpost of the Gilded Age

Historian and Cheltenham Township Historical Commission Vice President Dr. Thomas Wieckowski will present the history of the Gilded Age, including Cheltenham residents and their spectacular country homes in the area once know as Chelten Hills. Sponsored by the Friends of Glenside Library.

Sunday, November 11, 2018
2:00-4:00 PM 

Glenside Library
215 S Keswick Ave, Glenside, Pennsylvania 19038

Historic Shovel Shop for Rent

Built in the early 1700s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Shovel Shop will be available for lease in early 2018. This Cheltenham Township-owned property is located at 300 Ashbourne Road, Cheltenham, PA 19012.
  • Ideal for retail and office use.
  • 1,400 square feet on three stories.
  • Rent will average $800 to $900 a month, depending upon occupied square footage.
  • Recent upgrades include structural and electrical repairs, painting, carpeting, central air conditioning, gas heating, new alarm system, exterior repointing and masonry repairs.
Call 215-887-6200, ext. 112 for more information.

The Wall Paper

A Publication of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

The fall 2018 publication of The Wall Paper is now available - click here. Back issues of The Wall Paper are available on the Cheltenham Township website. The upcoming edition features:
  • Questor Grant Supports the Wall House
  • Chairman's Chatter
  • Thinking of Curtis Arboretum on a Visit to Stoneleigh
  • A New Flag for the Richard Wall House
  • Black Civil War Soldiers Honored

The Richard Wall House

The Richard Wall House is open upon request. To arrange for a tour, either private or for a group, either call the Township at 215-887-1000, ext. 227 during business hours, or call the house directly at 215-887-9159 and leave a message.

Learn more about the Wall House on the Cheltenham Township website.

Friends of the Wall House

Be a Friend of the Wall House and help preserve the rich history of Cheltenham Township.
Benefactor: $100 * Sponsor: $50 * Patron: $20

Make checks payable to Cheltenham Township Historical Commission. Mail your check, name, address, and email to:
Friends of the Wall House
c/o Cheltenham Township
8230 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027-1589
Copyright © 2018 Cheltenham Township Historical Commission, All rights reserved.

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