Last updated: 5/9/2013
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Street Address
8708 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Mailing Address
8708 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
phone: 215-247-0417
Archives and Collections
Appointments are preferred.
Tuesday - Friday9:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Saturday11 AM - 4 PM
We suggest you call or email to check on our operating hours. Some Saturdays may not be available. Thank You.
Gift Shop
Audrey Simpson, Information Requests
Tim Wood, Resource Center Information

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society is located in an 1870s Victorian house at the "top of the Hill" along Germantown Avenue in historic Chestnut Hill.

Chestnut Hill, located in the northwestern corner of Philadelphia, is one of the region's most beautiful and architecturally distinguished communities. Flanked by the spectacular Wissahickon Gorge and Cresheim Valley, Chestnut Hill is home to one of the best collections of 19th and early 20th-century residential buildings in the country.

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society leads the effort to protect this profound architectural heritage. Through lively programs, exhibits and tours, through the establishment of an innovative easement program and through direct intervention in the preservation of buildings, CHHS helps to keep the past alive for future generations.

A Walk on Germantown Avenue

Germantown Avenue has long been the heart of Chestnut Hill. This self-guided tour gives visitors a sense of the social and economic history of the neighborhood. It is available as a cellphone audio tour (just dial 215 525-1539) and as a web tour for your smartphone. A free map that shows all the sites on the tour can be picked up at our headquarters at 8708 Germantown Ave., at the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center at 8426 Germantown Ave., and at many merchants on the avenue.

20th Century Architecture in Chestnut Hill

While Chestnut Hill is generally known for its fine nineteenth and early-twentieth- century architecture, there are also many excellent examples of mid and late-twentieth-century homes by noted architects such as Robert Venturi, Louis Kahn, and Romaldo Giurgola. A map and guide to these homes can be purchased at our headquarters at 8708 Germantown Ave. A web version is also available.

Walking Tour of St. Martin's

The St. Martin's area was at the core of Chestnut Hill's transformation from a rural village to a suburban community served by two railroad lines. Developed by Pennsylvania Railroad director Henry Howard Houston, and continued by his son-in-law George Woodward, St. Martin's includes several community institutions as well as many fine homes. A walking tour booklet may be purchased at our headquarters at 8708 Germantown Ave.


The Chestnut Hill Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and nurturing the historical, physical, and cultural resources, and the character of Chestnut Hill.

Artifact Collections

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society maintains a rapidly growing, professionally managed collection of more than 20,000 items documenting the community’s architectural and social history from the 1680s to the present. The collection contains architectural drawings and other building records; more than 8,200 photographic images; maps including real estate atlases from the 1870s through the 1930s; prints, drawings, deeds, diaries, genealogical materials, books, taped and transcribed oral histories, and selected objects. The collection is available to the public for research purposes

Chestnut Hill Historical Society's Archives and Collections include a broad range of photographs, maps, and other materials that document Chestnut Hill's rich history. If you have not already viewed it, we invite you to look at available slideshows of photographs from our collections on our homepage.


Welcome to the Historical Society’s Native Plant Demonstration Garden

The garden was conceived as a demonstration garden for local residents interested in environmentally-sensitive landscaping. Designed by members of the society in consultation with horticultural experts at the Morris Arboretum, the garden has trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns native to the area. The use of native plants in our landscaping helps to preserve the natural environment by reducing water dependence and the need for fertilizers and pesticides and creates a habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The garden features a Franklin Tree, Franklinia alatamaha, (sometimes hard to establish) discovered in 1765 on the banks of the Alatamaha River in Georgia by Philadelphia botanist John Bartram and his son William, and named in honor of their great friend, Benjamin Franklin. Its connection to important figures in Philadelphia’s history gives it an honored place in the Society’s garden.


Preservation Resources

Introducing the Resource Center: Do you need to find someone who can repair your slate roof? Someone who can figure out the wiring in your early twentieth-century house? Want to know how to make your old windows open smoothly again? Need a place to find a doorknob that matches the rest of the doorknobs in the room? Just curious about when your house was built or what it looked like? The Resource Center at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society may have the answer for you.

For the do-it-yourselfer, the Resource Center can provide information that can make tackling a project easier. Our lists also include an extensive list of suppliers of materials, tools, and products that are appropriate for older buildings. Whether you need a custom-made door or a single knob, or if you need a product that can safely remove old lead-based paint or a way to tell what the appropriate colors for new paint might be, the Resource Center can point you in the right direction. We can also help you to find resources that can help you to learn specialized techniques for repairs and maintenance and give you advice on what to be aware of before starting on a project in an older home.

Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members

Appointment required: Yes



Gifts: Limited edition, beautifully made model of the #23 trolley (PCC Streetcar) produced by Corgi Classics. A motor can be purchased separately from the manufacturer. $75.55 ($67.99)

Maps and guides: Our award winning Architectural Guide and Map of Chestnut Hill $10.00 ($9.00); 20th Century Chestnut Hill Map & Self-Guided Tour $10.00 ($9.00); A walking tour of the St. Martins area of Chestnut Hill. $3.23 ($2.92); Schaaf's Illustrated Map of Chestnut Hill $16.20 ($14.58)

Books: Please see our website for the complete listing and pricing.

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