Germantown – classroom in historic preservation

History buffs, planners and community development advocates from all over the Delaware Valley hopped on a bus to Germantown this week for a lesson on local landmarks.

David Young, executive director of Cliveden led the tour, which was sponsored by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission as part of its Classic Towns program.

The point was to learn from Germantown’s example and see how historic preservation can function within a downtown community.

Participants traveled along “The Great Road,” or Germantown Avenue, to soak up the historic sites that line the two-mile cobblestone trek from Stenton Museum to Cliveden.

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Donna Boone, regional main street coordinator of the revitalization initiative Landmark Towns of Bucks County, came because the program gave her an opportunity to network with like minded people – those seeking to reinvent older downtown communities.

Highlights of the tour included the Johnson House, where attendees listened to stories of the Underground Railroad. And Cliveden, where they examined the very valuable antique yellow couch, which was designed by prominent craftsman Thomas Affleck, known for his work in the Chippendale style.

It wasn’t all sight seeing though. There was a practical benefit to the tour as well.

Tom Potts of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation said the workshop that preceded the tour gave him important resources for restoring his own 138-year old Kensington house, and the tour helped him bring the ideas to life.

“I loved visiting the Chew House and the Johnson House,” he said. “It was interesting to see how two families from the same stature lived two very different lives.”

Betty Turner, president of Germantown Community Connection was proud to show off why Germantown is one of the newest Classic Towns. To her this DVRPC marketing effort, which aims to draw new residents to old and historic communities is a great match for Germantown and places like it.

“Some of the best places and neighborhoods in the greater Philadelphia region are those that are genuine and authentic, like Germantown,” she said. “Germantown is a perfect example of how preserving great buildings, maintaining public spaces and treasuring our community institutions can bring new life and interest to one of the oldest communities in the Philadelphia area.”


To schedule your own bus tour, visit Historic Germantown or call 215-844-1683.

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