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Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

September 2021

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Commission News

Welcome back to our regular, monthly newsletter. As we begin a new school year, the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission is getting ready to educate you on all things historical* and unicorns**.

* Within reason.
** He got an A+ for effort, but should be considered unicone.

Open House Grand Re-Opening

On September 26th, from 1:00-4:00 PM, we have our Open House Grand Re-Opening. This will feature new exhibits, kid activities, an authors tent, increased audio visual, a tour of the herb garden by the Old York Road Garden Club, a relocated dollhouse for better viewing, a new/old historic desk display, newly uncovered historic artwork, a new local history gallery, and slightly less creepy mannequins.

Note that masks are required at this event.

Wall House Work Days

In order to prepare the Wall House for the Grand Re-Opening, we are hosting two more work days.
  • Saturday, September 11th, 10:00 AM
  • Saturday, September 25th, 10:00 AM

Thanks to our community volunteers, the iris garden was revived, the herb garden refreshed, our furniture has all been moved, the heavy garbage has been disposed of, and the crazy junk from the basement has been laid to rest. What is left, you ask? Basic cleaning and organizing. Sweeping floors, vacuuming, hanging pictures, wiping down window ledges, general preparation for presentation.

If you are inclined to help with the Wall Housework, either inside or out, please consider showing up to volunteer.

Past Work Days

On August 28th, we had our most recent work day. Special thanks to Troop 22 who brought a number of scouts who braved the forgotten basement area and purged of a century of junk. Also special thanks to Christina Brailoiu who has been a powerhouse for cleaning the basement, parlor, kitchen, and spring house.
A fraction of the junk hauled out by Troop 22. They did some heavy lifting.

Our wonderful volunteer, Christina Brailoiu. The Wall House has never looked so clean.

A Moment in History

Recently, the Historical Commission had a inquiry from the Friends of Curtis Arboretum about the WWII Memorial located within the arboretum. Commission Chair, Dr. Tom Wieckowski did some research and found the following item.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 December, 1947.

Band To Get Ax

The Commissioners also announced that for reasons of economy it would be necessary to disband the Township Band, which has been under the leadership of W. Clair Hower.

Plans for an elaborate memorial amphitheater in Curtis Arborertum, to be set up in memory of the township's 70 hero dead in the Second World War, were presented to the Commissioners at last night's meeting by Township Manager Harold C. Pike. The plans were approved in a resolution presented by Commissioner Ralph Morgan, of Wyncote.

As presented last night, the plans call for ultimate construction of a stage on the east side of the upper lake with a seating capacity of 1000 on the lawn along the park drive. The amphitheater would be shaded by a memorial grove, to be planted at once and dedicated at ceremonies in the spring.


This amphitheater was never constructed, and it is interesting to think that the township could not afford a band, but would entertain such a grand project as an amphitheater.

Upcoming Historical Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission will be September 9th at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Here is the agenda.

DVDs for Sale

Longtime friend of the Historical Commission, Patricia Miller, is selling a DVD about the Elkins Estate: "A Story of the Dominican Retreat Property and Tyler School of Art in Cheltenham Township." Copies are $30 each. Please contact Patricia Miller,, 215-635-2444 to order copies. Proceeds are shared with Patricia and the Historical Commission.


Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott

Camp William Penn and Historic La Mott Day

It is with great regret that the Camp William Penn and Historic La Mott Day has been postponed until 2022.

Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library

First Sunday Zoom Programs

Join us the first Sunday of each month. Programs begin at 1:00 PM. These are FREE virtual programs online - Please RSVP to
  • September 12, 2021 @ 11:00 am – NOTE SPECIAL DATE AND TIME – Jim Remsen & Brad Upp 'BACK FROM BATTLE' - The Forgotten Story of Pennsylvania’s Camp Discharge and the Weary Civil War Soldiers It Served – Historians & Co-authors Jim Remsen and Brad Upp will give an illustrated presentation about their brand-new book, titled, Camp Discharge: The Forgotten History of a Pennsylvania Civil War Post and the War-Weary Soldiers It Served. Camp Discharge was erected in 1864 in Lower Merion, on a slope above the Schuylkill River. It had a special mission--to muster out hundreds of individual soldiers from eastern Pennsylvania who had been cut off from their regiments in the field. Some of the men had been waylaid by battle wounds or illness, others by detached duty. A few were deserters, while nearly half were POWs who had been held at Andersonville and elsewhere. By 1866, the post was gone, and the men had gone on to their uncertain futures in Post War America. Jim Remsen is a retired Inquirer journalist, author of three prior books, and a past presenter at the museum. Brad Upp is a re-enactor with the 69th Penna. Infantry and a board member of the Lower Merion Historical Society, which supported the development of the book.
  • October 3, 2021 – Charlie ZahmCivil War Songster in Concert
  • November 7, 2021 – Mike Jesberger1913 Blue & Gray Reunion in Gettysburg
  • December 5, 2021Christmas at the Front (to be confirmed)

Requests to reserve a virtual seat that are sent the day of the Program may not arrive in time. We will make every effort to reply, but Gmail may be slow, and our volunteer may be called away. You will be sent a link with a password that will enable you to access the program within 24 hours of the start of the presentation. 

As a lover of history, you know how critical it is to keep history alive, especially today! We very much appreciate your continued support for the GAR Civil War Museum. Details and Updates on Upcoming Programs will be available on the Museum website:

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Julian Abele & Designing the Museum

Tuesday, September 14, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Julian Abele was one of the first Black architects to achieve prominence in the field. As senior designer for the office of Horace Trumbauer, Abele performed a pivotal role in the design and construction of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In this virtual talk, landscape architect and author Dreck Wilson considers the nature and scope of Abele’s contribution to the design of the museum and sheds light on his impressive career during a period when the contributions of African Americans were often obscured.

Visitor Alert
This program was originally scheduled for September 15.

Things to Know
Registration ends at noon the day before the program; a link will be sent to registrants prior to the program.

This program will be recorded; a link to the recording will be shared with registrants a day after the program.


Dreck Wilson, ASLA, NOMA, is a landscape architect based in Washington, DC, and author of Julian Abele: Architect and the Beaux Arts. He was an Associate Professor of Architectural History at Howard University and Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at Morgan State University. Wilson is also the editor and a contributing author of African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865–1945.

The Wall Paper

A Publication of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

The spring 2021 publication of The Wall Paper is now available - click here. Back issues of The Wall Paper are available on the Cheltenham Township website. The edition features:
  • Chairman's Chatter
  • 50th Anniversary Grand Re-Opening Open House 
  • Upcoming Events
  • Questions from Residents

The Richard Wall House

The Richard Wall House is open on the fourth Sunday of every month and 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 send an email to

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. The suggested donation levels are:
  • Benefactor: $100
  • Sponsor: $50
  • Patron: $20

Jack Washington Memorial Fund

In honor of the late Jack Washington, longtime Historical Commission member and chair, the Historical Commission created the Jack Washington Gallery in the Richard Wall House. This gallery serves as a starting point for the local history of Cheltenham Township. We are accepting donations to help pay for the new exhibits.

Send Donations

Mail a piece of paper with your name, address, email address, and "Friend of the Wall House" or "Jack Washington Fund" written on it, along with your check made payable to "Cheltenham Township Historical Commission" to:
Cheltenham Township Historical Commission
c/o Cheltenham Township
8230 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027-1589
Copyright © 2021 Cheltenham Township Historical Commission, All rights reserved.

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