Discovering Chestnut Hill: When the Hill was a summer destination

Posted 7/20/16

Samuel Austin’s development of Summit Street was still quite new when this circa 1866 view was taken from 25 Summit Street, facing southeast towards Wyndmoor. (Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill …

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Discovering Chestnut Hill: When the Hill was a summer destination

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Samuel Austin’s development of Summit Street was still quite new when this circa 1866 view was taken from 25 Summit Street, facing southeast towards Wyndmoor. (Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Historical Society) Samuel Austin’s development of Summit Street was still quite new when this circa 1866 view was taken from 25 Summit Street, facing southeast towards Wyndmoor. (Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Historical Society)[/caption]

by Alex Bartlett, Archivist, Chestnut Hill Historical Society

Chestnut Hill once functioned as a summer resort for Philadelphians wanting to escape the heat of the city. In 1854, the railroad tracks of the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad – the present-day Chestnut Hill East Line – reached Chestnut Hill. The arrival of this railroad opened up vacant land around and including today’s Summit Street for development; many new spacious homes were constructed to reflect this demand for summer houses.

Samuel Austin’s development of Summit Street was still quite new when this circa 1866 view was taken from 25 Summit Street. Across the street were identical houses designed by James C. Sydney and Frederick Merry, at numbers 42 and 46. (These houses still stand today, but the one on the left has been greatly altered.) The tower visible at the far left is that of 100 Summit Street. On the reverse of the stereoview from which this photograph originated, "Summer St." is written – an incorrect but understandable mistake made, given the origins and associations of this development. To see more historical photographs from your own home, visit the Chestnut Hill Historical Society’s Online Archive at chhist.org/photo-search

You can discover more about “Summer St.” on our walking tour of Summit Street on September 10, led by architect Richard Bartholomew. Tickets sold out quickly for our last tour, so register now at chhist.org/walking-tours ($15; free for CHHS members).

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