Look Up! Abington Township’s flirtation with Hollywood

Look Up” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. Each week, the photo essay will focus on a different Philadelphia area neighborhood and its distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

In the 1920s, the American dream of homeownership was idealized in movieland and epitomized by the Southern California lifestyle. So when California builder Gustav Weber planned a 174-house neighborhood in 1928 in southern Abington Township, Pa., he used the Mission bungalow and Art Deco styles as his inspiration and called the community “Hollywood.” The homes sold quickly for $4,000 to $5,000.

The neighborhood is bordered by Huntingdon Pike, Fox Chase and Cedar Roads, but the street names within the enclave are Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, Redondo, Berkeley and San Gabriel. Mission arches, Moorish rooflines, adobe features and pastel colors still enhance many of the homes.

But Weber’s dream didn’t quite fit the Northeastern climate. The flat roofs leaked, the Moravian tile sidewalks cracked, and the Western plants, including palm trees, didn’t last long in the East Coast winters.

Weber’s community wasn’t completed until the 1940s by a local developer. In succeeding decades, concrete replaced the tile sidewalks, and aluminum siding covered some of the stucco.

Still, the Hollywood Tavern welcomes visitors to the community, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has listed the area as eligible for the national registry. 

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“Look Up!” John Notman’s brownstone temples

“Look Up!” 19th Century luxe on Locust St.

“Look Up!: 20th Century evolution in East Falls

“Look Up!” Rural retreats in Northeast Philly

“Look Up!” Modernist lines on Haverford Ave.

“Look Up!” Chestnut Hill’s modernist gems

Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

“Look Up!” The Art Deco Palace of Mt. Airy
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Look Up!” The French Village in Mt. Airy
“Look Up” and check out the nouveau mansions of North Broad

“Look Up” and check out elegant Southwark
“Look Up” and check out Henry Disston’s company town
“Look Up: and check out Spruce Hill
“Look Up” and check out Green Street
“Look Up” and check out West Laurel Hill
“Look Up” and check out Parkside
“Look Up” and check out Awbury Arboretum
“Look Up” and check out Nicetown
“Look Up” and check out Overbrook Farms
“Look Up” and check out Girard Estate
“Look Up” and check out Rittenhouse/Fitler Square

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