Lincoln Drive gateway project gets financial boost

 A remainder of the former gateway on Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

A remainder of the former gateway on Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

A grassroots effort to restore an historic gateway in Northwest Philadelphia has reached a major milestone.

For FFFFomore than four years now, members of the Germantown Historical Society and West Mt. Airy Neighbors have been fundraising in an effort to bring the Stotesbury Gateway back to life.

The history

In 1901, a pair of ornate arbors, or pergolas, topped two sets of stone piers on either side of Lincoln Drive at Johnson Street. Together, the twin structures — funded by Philadelphia financier Edward T. Stotesbury — formed a gateway that loosely separated residential areas from the park.

More than 100 years later, however, the pergolas are gone. Only a single pier on each side of the street remains as a result of the city widening Lincoln Drive from two lanes to four in the 1950s.

GHS and WMAN recently shored up the $30,000 needed to rebuild the long-forgotten pergolas, a big part of the project.

“It’s very gratifying to see it coming together at this point,” said Pat Moran, who sits on the GHS board.

Bowman Properties, The Drumcliff Foundation and individual residents contributed. So, too, did the office of Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass.

The project, however, is not shovel-ready just yet.

What needs to be done?

The remaining stone piers are in “pretty significant need of attention,” said John Hanson, who heads Hanson General Contracting, the Roxborough-based company leading the fabrication and construction effort.

By Hanson’s estimates, fixing up the masonry will take another $10,000 to $20,000. He’s now in the process of searching for a company willing to do the work at a reduced rate in the name of community improvement.

“Once we get that, I think we can throw together a budget together pretty quickly,” said Hanson.

Complete by June?

Fabrication could begin as early as May and Moran hopes to have a dedication ceremony sometime in June.

When it’s completed, the pergolas — to be carved from white oak — will sit more than 10 feet above Lincoln Drive. A “wisteria-like” vine will climb over them.

“It’s going to be doing what it was meant to be doing in 1901,” said Moran.

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