East Falls Local

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Category: History (Page 1 of 5)

Nosy Neighbor Report: Redeemer Renovations

“Dear East Falls Local, what is going on in the old Redeemer church building? I WANNA SEEEEE!!!!!” Well okay, then. Let’s have a look, shall we?

If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you’ll know we’re big fans of historic architecture. So is developer Gary Jonas – I know, I know, he’s still in the business of making money off our collective landscape but hear us out. He’s ultimately a preservationist, too, because his jam is repurposing old buildings, not tearing them down.

St. Bridget’s Lofts on Stanton, that’s a perfect example of how Gary kept the old school looking pretty much as it always has from the street – but inside, it was transformed into unique luxury apartments you can view in our walk-thru from 2015. All the units were quickly occupied, East Falls is a very desirable neighborhood, plus some people really do like to live in historic buildings.

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Take a Stand for The Falls

If we’re not careful, we can lose our historic architecture. Joseph Minardi explains how we’re at risk, and steps neighbors can take towards preserving our local charm & character. 

Look out! Philadelphia is under siege from ravenous developers who’d like to build on every square inch of the city — demolishing historic buildings in their wake. In East Falls, the Catfish Café at Ridge and Scotts Lane) was an exquisite example of Philadelphia Victorian commercial architecture. So close to a revival, only to be smashed to bits, its incredible vintage wooden bar carted off to D.C.

No buildings are safe, not even churches. St. Bridget (3667 Midvale), for instance, has no historical designation and plus is incorrectly zoned as residential. If the Church sold it, a developer could do whatever they wanted with the property. Gut it, demo it, whatever, by right. No need for community input. Are we really OK with this?

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History Matters: Yule Wonder Why

Our favorite historian explains local Holiday oddities from long ago.

Happy Holidays, Fallsers! As we know, the city of Philadelphia has many strange rituals, but there are a few bizarre customs that have been lost to history. Now’s a good time to re-examine those weird and wonderful traditions of yore…

“Der Belsnickel!”

The arrival of Christmas means the yearly visit from jolly old Saint Nick can’t be far behind. But did you know that Santa Claus once had a cantankerous cousin? Belsnickel, the filthy and foul anti-Santa, was a popular means of getting unruly children to behave in the nineteenth century.

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(Take Another Little) Piece of Our Past

As new construction goes up, older buildings come down. What can Fallsers do to save our architectural legacy? 

East Falls and Allegheny West lost more than lovely architecture last month: the old “Catifsh Café” had been a favorite meeting place for folks from both neighborhoods since it was built in 1875. Back in the 80’s/90’s, it was famous for big, juicy burgers and the occasional Charles Barkley sighting. And we were so close to saving it!

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Sips About to Get Real

Taste the difference a little TLC makes for fine wine.  

You hear it so often from people back from a European vacation it’s cliché: “The wine over there is So. Much. Better.” Same deal with the Napa Valley. You just have to go there to appreciate the wine at its source.

Or! You can buy the wine there and then transport it home in a climate-controlled container (monitoring temperatures the whole way, to be sure). Store it in your fridge until you’re ready to drink it.

Sound like a hassle? Really, all you have to do is drive 20 minutes to Pennsauken NJ…

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Monumental Makeover

Our Revolutionary War memorial gets a makeover.

Today I saw some men digging out a large stone memorial having to do with George Washington in front of the water facility on Queen Lane. Does this have something to do with the country’s current race issues?

Oh no, Trump was right – you tear down one Confederate statue and where does it end? Apparently one reader thought the Revolutionary War Memorial at the Queen Lane Reservoir was next.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Put a Ring on It

If you’ve ever wondered about East Falls’ “castle” on Kelly Drive, Joseph Minardi’s got all the scoop on this Victorian riverside party spot. 

Castle Ringstetten is the picturesque upriver clubhouse of the Undine Barge Club, founded in 1856 for “healthful exercise” and “relaxation from business.”  Indeed, the club has the ambience of gentlemanly club-life from a bygone era.

Construction on the lovely edifice began in 1875.

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EFFF: East Falls’ Frank Furness

Come to the Castle for East Falls Oktoberfest! This historic boathouse is one of the few remaining buildings by Frank Furness, a gun-toting, spear-stabbing Civil War hero with a flair for mad design. 

You’ll see this September 30th — Frank Furness was one sassy architect!

When the rest of Philadelphia (and the US, really) was still copying Europe, he looked West to define a bold new style unlike anything seen before. He’s also the only famous architect ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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HISTORY MATTERS: The Amazin’ Weightman

William Weightman made his name in the pharmaceutical game as the “Quinine King,” and left an indelible architectural legacy in East Falls & surrounding Philadelphia.

East Falls’ William Weightman (1813-1904) was one of the wealthiest men in America at the time of his death, amassing a fortune worth over $51 billion in today’s money — CNN rated him #20 of the all-time richest Americans.  Yet he is far less famous than his fellow fat cats like John D. Rockefeller and the Cornelius Vanderbilt.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Fort St. Davids

We’re called “East Falls” — but where are the waterfalls? Joseph Minardi explains our piscine origins, when the Schuylkill river roared with rapids (and delicious protein). In pre-Revolutionary days, a group of prominent Welshman from Philadelphia, some of whom were Quakers and close associates of William Penn, organized a society and a clubhouse that was the genesis of East Falls.  They called themselves the Society of Fort St. David’s in honor of the patron saint of Wales.

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