August 26, 2010

Chestnut Hill Dining Guide

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Blockbuster exhibit at Phila. Art Museum
Renoir paintings have ties to huge Mt. Airy estate

Famed artist Andy Warhol claimed that Henry McIlhenny, seen here in his Germantown/Mt. Airy mansion around 1960, was “the only person in Philadelphia with glamour,” a sentiment echoed by the Philadelphia Art Alliance, which dubbed him the “first gentleman of Philadelphia.” McIlhenny left his entire estate to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has been compared to the bequests by the Mellon family to the National Gallery and by Nelson A. Rockefeller to the Museum of Modern Art. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

While you can get an eyeful of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (1841-1919) work (from the last two decades of his life) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in their “Late Renoir” exhibit running through Sept. 6, very few Northwest Philadelphia residents are probably aware that several of Renoir’s paintings were originally housed at the Park Gate estate, owned by the McIlhenny family on the border between Germantown and Mt. Airy.  

In exploring the Renoir connection to Northwest Philadelphia, it was discovered that efforts are now underway to have the once stately — but now dilapidated — mansion preserved. The house, located next to the Anna Lane Lingelbach Elementary School, at 6340 Wayne Ave. originally stood on a five-acre, impeccably landscaped site one block above the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street.

The stone gates, which remain standing, marked the entrance to the Wissahickon Valley section of Fairmount Park, leading to the name of the estate.  (In early references, Park Gate was written as one word, Parkgate, and in later years it was written as both one and two words; but more often the latter was used.)

According to PMA Curator Joseph J. Rishel and Germantown Historical Society preservationist J. Patrick Moran, members of the McIlhenny family were catalysts for shaping the PMA in many ways. Henry McIlhenny even helped put on an exhibit of works by Renoir at PMA in 1938. McIlhenny, a world-renowned art collector, helped bring the works to Philadelphia for safekeeping because of the impending war all over Europe. (Henry also owned Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal, Ireland, where he would throw lavish summer parties entertaining the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Rosemary Clooney and Greta Garbo. He bought the castle in 1938 and placed it in an estate of over 40,000 acres.)

Much-kneaded Poppy’s Seed Bakery rises to the top

Bev Loux (right), co-owner with husband Ron of Poppy’s Seed Bakery in the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, is seen with Corinda Bergey, an employee, friend and Chestnut Hill College student. (Photo by Tim Sheridan)

Time after time, Souderton resident Ron Loux would hear comments from customers at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market on Germantown Avenue about the need for a bakery.

So he decided to fulfill that need. (Their last name is pronounced “Lowx” (German) rather than “Loo” (French) because the family moved from France to Germany many years ago.)

“The market was without a bakery stand, and the customers would often comment about the market needing a bakery,” Loux said.“(My wife) Bev and I decided to combine our years of market experience with our desire to start our first business, and we opened Poppy’s Seed Bakery.”

And from there, a new business was created by Loux, who has been working in farmers markets since he was eight years old when his father owned a poultry stand in the former Germantown Farmers Market. As an adult, Loux worked for nine years at Neidermyers Poultry at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market. But when a gelato stand at the market closed in April of 2008 and the space became available, he saw the chance for a change.

His previous phone was embezzling money
Jim Harris gives birth to two-ounce baby (sex unknown)

It is with great pride and joy that I announce the arrival of a new addition to the Harris household. Weighing in at just under two ounces, little “Gobbledygook International XKZ593-a” was activated by Tom at Radio Shack on Sunday, August 22, at 1:43 p.m.

I received a very warm, personal message from the President of Gobbledygook this morning: “Congratulations, [JIM], on your new phone. The XKZ593-a offers more features than ever before, including GPS, WIFI, camera, web browser and 2GB onboard memory. It allows you to easily keep in touch with others (even if they’re only 10 feet away), via email, messaging, pictures, video and yes, even old-fashioned phone calls.

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