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Catching up with history at Ryerss and Burholme Park

At the pinnacle of the hill sits  Ryerss Museum and Library keeping a look out over Burholme Park.  The park, once home to the Ryerss summer home and the surrounding farm fields and live stock, is now an active home for residents of the Northeast.

Located on the southern edge of Fox Chase at 7370 Central Ave., the museum/library and the surrounding parkland are managed by Fairmount Park with assistance from The Friends of Ryerss.  The museum and lending library are open weekends between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Tours are provided for free.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable of the history of the Museum.  Community events are held throughout the year to include Easter egg hunts, craft shows, watercolor classes, Petapaloosa, crafts for kids, The Burholme Stamp Club and various literary events of interest to the community.

The collection at Ryerss is displayed in two galleries: the first floor and second floor gallery. The collection consists of artifacts from all over the globe and is beautifully displayed throughout the galleries. The lending library is active for public use and the archives are available for study by appointment only.  Just in front of the library is a box with a brochure to use for a walking tour of Burholme Park.

A few feet from the Ryerss circle, you will find sitting benches shaded by trees. This area offers a great view of the Center City skyline, as well as views of spectacular sunsets on clear days. During the warm months you can descend the hill and watch various athletic events that take place in the ball fields. The hill is transformed during winter snowstorms into a wonderland that is considered the best sled hill in Philadelphia. Hike back up the hill to west side of the museum and you will find the Ryerss pet cemetery.

The west side of Burholme park features a modern playground for kids of all ages, a well-landscaped picnic grove with plenty of picnic benches and the west woodlands of the park. The woodlands have a nice hiking trail, a fireplace and pond. The area has an abundance of wildlife and is enjoyable for hikers and families. You can top off the day with a visit to The Burholme Park Golf Range that houses a driving range, baseball batting cages and a great miniature golf course. The range is inexpensive and a great way to end a day at the park.

Robert Waln Ryerss was the last of his family to live at Burholme and willed the 70 acre estate to the City of Philadelphia to be used as a park, museum and library, free to the public. One hundred years later, the people of Philadelphia continue to use and enjoy the park in a manner consistent with the vision of Robert Waln Ryerss, who provided this public space to the people.

G.E. Reutter resides in the Fox Chase. You can visit him at his website.

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