Monday, September 27, 2010

Our House: Then & Now

Last night, my husband and I attended our neighborhood's version of a Pub Crawl-- we walked to three host houses, stopping at each one to eat and drink.  For us newbies, it was a great way to meet our new neighbors (and take an authorized tour of their homes without having to peek through the windows!).  One home in our neighborhood dates back to the 1700s-- it was the second stop on our neighborhood "crawl".  This historic home was the original farmhouse for the surrounding 32 acres.  Their land was divided up during the 1800s (our home was built one block away in 1892) and then, the remainder of the land was divided again in 1912. 

When the developers marketed these lots for sale in 1912, they created a tiny booklet to illustrate the desirable neighborhood and thriving community (at the time, many Philadelphians were escaping the city and spending their entire summer in our town, so this was an effective marketing technique).  This booklet contained images of the local businesses and existing homes.  And, guess what?  Our house was featured as one of the existing homes!  I about died when I saw the picture, and begged our neighbor to let me borrow it (so I could scan it and have it forever).

Here is a picture of our house in 1912.  It was exactly 20 years old...


It's so interesting to see that the shutters on the 1st floor were a different color than the shutters on the second floor.  Our side entrance, which was added when the home was briefly used as two apartments is gone (you can make out the small side entrance here).  And, of course the bad addition (on the back of the house) doesn't exist.  But, other than that, everything looks the same!  Just as a comparision, here is a (very cruddy) picture of our house last June, before we pruned the overgrown side yard...



The booklet even had a map, illustrating the available lots for purchase, and our house was listed right there as an existing structure. (I know this seems like obvious information, but it was such a thrill for us to see proof of our home's history!)



I also learned that our town was home to a flour mill, lumber yard, cigar factory and blacksmith.  When the Pennsylvania Railroad starting sending a train through town in 1856, the population boomed.  Hotels were built, summer homes were established (yay!), they built a Post Office and the town had one large school.  I even learned that during the Civil War, the blacksmith (about 4 blocks away) made ammunition wagons for the Union Army! 

Fun stuff. 


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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

that's really cool stuff. So did you end up cutting down century old trees in your yard when you cleared it out? I am sure it was for the best but doesn't it just make you cringe a little? Just wondering, not judging.

Kelly Galvin Robson said...

Hi Anon! We only removed the crazy, over-grown brush that was about to swallow us whole. The home had been neglected (in that way) for some time, and there was wild brush on both sides of us. In the June picture featured here, the one side is clear, but the side in the foreground is not. We did remove the large Pine because it was a hazard with the power lines, and it really wouldn't let us plant anything underneath it (it dropped a ton of needles)! But, we've kept every other tree. Even the Walnut Trees that attract every squirrel within a 10 mile radius. :)

xx
Kelly

Belly said...

Amazing! By the way I just got a note that my pack from you is in the post office. Can't wait to pick it up.

RLG said...

How lucky you are to have such fascinating and lovely neighbors. I think it's great you're learning all the history you can on your place. So cool! xoxo

A Country Farmhouse said...

Hi Kelly,
What a great night in the neighborhood! I just love that kind of information, especially when it involves your own home. It's absolutely fascinating and really brings the history of the house alive.
xoTrina

A House and Home said...

I love the history involved in living in the northeast!

Wallpaper said...

Wow really neat stuff! I love learning about the history of a house!!

Shelter said...

Very cool. I love the history of homes. What a fun find for you.

Julie
Shelter

aneyefordetail said...

Kelly: I follow you on Twitter, and occasionally on your blog....but couldn't resist this post! I am from Philly, and am wondering just where this is? Are you in Germantown? Couldn't tell. I grew up there, and then in Villanova. We were about to move back to center city, but have bought a house near Chapel Hill, N.C. instead! Moving in December. Anyway, I do love the city.
I'd also like to put you on my blogroll, if that's ok by you????

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to reiterate I thought this was story was so interesting, I wonder about my house sometimes. I am so waiting to see a tour of your home when it's complete.

Maggie Rose said...

This is so cool! Our house (we're renting) was built in 1907 - which is fairly early for Seattle. I haven't been able to find any photos or info at the library but I've been planning to check our neighborhood's historical society. I think it's so fascinating to learn our home's history! How neat to learn more about yours :)

paula said...

gorgeous then and now. What a treasure to have.

SnappyShop.etsy said...

This is really cool. Your big old house is beautiful! I love it!

InMyOwnStyle said...

Just found your blog through Trina's- A Country Farmhouse. Loving the posts I have read so far and had to smile when I saw you lived in the Phila area. When I saw the old map and the intersection your home sits at I am pretty sure I have passed your beautiful home a few times in my life especially as I had many friends who lived on the streets around you.I went to UDHS. So many well kept and charming homes there.

It is so interesting to know your homes history and to see what it looked like a long time ago.

My best- Diane

Anonymous said...

Have you found any odds and ends as you have remodeled? I love seeing the posts showing an old button shoe or newsprint or especially children's toys. I saw a collection of a small truck and what looked like a very small handmade doll made all of cloth. Amazing it wasn't used by mice for nesting material.

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