Burholme community groups get historic

The promise of Northeast Philadelphia historian Dr. Harry Silcox drew even larger crowd than usual to last night’s meeting of the Burholme Civic Association and Burholme Town Watch.

About 100 people showed up – more than the group of 65 for a similar presentation in Tacony, and more than a past Burholme meeting the mayor attended. President Al Taubenberger called the meeting to order as folks set up more chairs and pressed themselves against walls to hear Silcox discuss the history of Burholme and other parts of the Northeast.

Keep reading for Northeast trivia and a video.

Silcox was unable to attend for health reasons, but made up for his absence by sending Frank Hollingsworth, a Torresdale historian, and organizing games and give-aways for the attendees.

Come Together

Residents from all over the Northeast and the suburbs came to last night’s meeting to learn about their history. People came from the following places:

  • Bustleton
  • Byberry
  • Cheltenham
  • Fox Chase
  • Frankford
  • Holme Cirlce
  • Holmesburg
  • Huntingdon Valley
  • Juniata
  • Lexington Park
  • Mayfair
  • Morrell Park
  • Northwood
  • Pine Valley
  • Rhawnhurst
  • Rockledge
  • Somerton
  • Tacony
  • Torresdale

“It’s important to understand where we come from and where we’re going,” Taubenberger said as he introduced Hollingsworth. With help from the crowd, Holllingsworth highlighted many historic aspects of the Northeast, and the roles they’ve played throughout history.

7339 Rising Sun Ave., now occupied by Bob Vilford Hilferty and his wife, was built in Sept. 1888 and used as a hospital during the Spanish flu epidemic.

The scientist credited with isolating the gene associated with the flu was Jeffrey Taubenberger, a cousin of Burholme Civic’s president Al Taubenberger.

Portions of the west side of Roosevelt Boulevard began developing in 1924, thanks to the Forman and Orleans families.

Also in the ’20, there was a push to make Northeast Philadelphia Airport the main airport of the city, though at the same time, census data revealed there were only 500 cars, but 4,000 cows, 3,000 horses and 2,500 pigs in the area.

“History is like a jigsaw puzzle,” Hollingsworth explained, and went on to break down Philadelphia’s migratory patterns, which have led people to the Northeast over the years. Mayfair developed when residents from the Kensington area began moving north, and Rhawnhurst was brought to life by those coming from North Philadelphia, while Frankford residents bypassed several neighborhoods and moved up to Torresdale.

This information was of particular interest from the crowd, who introduced themselves at the beginning of the meeting – the same way every Burholme community meeting begins. There were people on hand from more than 10 neighborhoods, and some from the suburbs.

Following the history discussion, five prizes of $10, and one prize each of $25, $50 and $100 were awarded to attendees with winning raffle tickets, which were distributed by the Northeast Times’ Diane Prokop before the meeting. Books of historical Northeast Philadelphia were also awarded, but the grand finale of sorts involved a trivia competition between 10 raffle winners.

Most of the 10 were eliminated in the first round, when asked by Prokop to identify historical images, like Battleship Row in Tacony, the old Red Lion Inn and the Disston family. The final round came down to Peg and Mary, who had to identify which neighborhoods historic buildings are in. Peg was declared the winner and received a check for $250 when she correctly placed the Drexel Summer Home and the Flying Dutchman airport.


“It pays to come to the Burholme Civic meeting,” Taubenberger joked. And with that, the meeting came to a close, and the crowd came together over food, which the Burholme group provides for residents after every meeting.

Also at last night’s meeting…Lt. Tom McCartney of the 2nd Police District introduced himself to residents, as he and Lt. Tom Tomlin will be in charge of Zone 2 in the district, part of the Public Safety Areas, which split the district into three zones to allow residents to build a rapport with the officers who consistently patrol their zones…Jim Stanton of Tacony Academy Charter was on hand to explain the K-4 school’s focus on inventions and problem solving. Stanton said he has plans to move the school to Tacony in the next two to three years.

The Burholme Civic Association and Town Watch will meet next on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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