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Chestnut Hill Conservancy, the educational center and advocate organization for the appreciation and preservation of the architecture, open green space, and history of Chestnut Hill and the other surrounding communities in the Wissahickon watershed, is hosting its much-loved Night of Lights streetscape exhibition on Friday, October 6 – Saturday, October 14.

The nine-evening run, spotlighting architecture, archives, and local history along Germantown Avenue between Willow Grove Avenue and Bethlehem Pike, kicks off with a Flip the Switch ceremonystarting at 6:45 PM – 7 PM held in the outdoor open space on East Hartwell next to Foliage Plant Boutique (8139 Germantown Avenue).

Following the opening ceremony, kickoff festivities will include storytellers at each themed projection window, music from various local acts, including MilkBoy co-founder Tommy Joyner’s Pep Rally, and entertainment from Maplewood Music Studios (including performances by Maplewood Music Studios teachers Rich Rudin, Larry Cohen, John “Jocko” MacNelly, and Ralph Salerno), an “Ask the Archivists” table, and more family-friendly interactive activities, all concluding at 9 PM. After opening night, the exhibition continues nightly from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.  

Attendees will receive “Pastports“, exhibition guides with an event map and schedule of experiences, that can be stamped at eight themed slideshows comprising historical images and educational content, which will be projected through storefront windows on Germantown Ave. Attendees who turn in a fully stamped Pastport after the exhibition ends will be entered into a prize raffle. Nine winners, one for each night, will receive a Chestnut Hill raffle bag with gifts from local businesses including Chestnut Hill Business District, Baker Street Bread Company, El Quetzel, Garden State Tile, Matine’s Cafe, McNally’s Tavern, Moondance Farm Studios, Zipf’s Candies, and more. Winners will be announced on Monday, October 16.

Night of Lights guided walking tours will also be available for the first time. These tours will be ticketed, led by local historians, architects, and experts, and are will be held on Tuesday, October 10 and Thursday, October 12 only. Space is limited. Click HERE for more information on the Tuesday, October 10 walking tour and HERE for the Thursday October 12 walking tour. 

Businesses around the avenue will also be hosting their own companion events, including a wine and cheese open house for architects and designers at Garden State Tile slated for Friday, October 6 from 5 – 8pm. Stay tuned for further event updates.

Sponsors include the Chestnut Hill Hotel, Chubb, George Woodward Co., MIS Capital, The Sivel Group, Unique Indoor Comfort, Elfant Wissahickon Realtor, and Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc., and Robertson’s Florist Night of Lights is also possible through the support and partnership of many local businesses, including the Chestnut Hill Business District, and is part of DesignPhiladelphia and Archives Month Philly.

Additional Information About The Chestnut Hill Conservancy

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy has a unique easement program that made Chestnut Hill the nation’s first urban accredited land trust. It is a powerful and vital resource for residents of the area and beyond. Here are some fun facts about Chestnut Hill and the surrounding communities courtesy of their archives:

  • The oldest building (still standing) in Chestnut Hill is the Cat Clinic at 8220 Germantown Avenue. Also known as the Detwiler House, it was constructed in 1744. 
  • The ZIP code of 19118, now uniquely associated with Chestnut Hill, was also shared with Wyndmoor, which was often referred to as “Chestnut Hill” for much of themid-to-late 20th century. Wyndmoor residents were incorrectly charged Philadelphia property and sales taxes, before their ZiP code was changed to Glenside, 19038, in the mid ’90s.
  • The Route 23 trolley (replaced with buses for regular service in 1992) used to circle around the trolley loop at the top of Chestnut Hill counterclockwise, entering the loop from Bethlehem Pike. The route was eventually reoriented to go clockwise , after a trolley entering Germantown Avenue left the tracks and slammed into a storefront on the west side of the 8600 block, causing considerable damage.
  • The site of the Water Tower Recreation Center was originally a reservoir, built along with the landmark water tower by the Chestnut Hill Water Company, in 1859. When the Belmont Reservoir opened in the early 1900s, the Chestnut Hill reservoir was redundant and it was closed. It was converted into a landfill until the Rec. Center opened in its stead, at the end of World War I.
  • Some blocks in Chestnut Hill are “missing,” for example the unit block of East Evergreen Avenue and the 100 blocks of East Graver’s Lane and East Highland Avenue do not exist. This is presumably due to the angle Germantown Avenue travels in relation to Chestnut Hill’s area’s “east-west” streets.

– Tristan Kim