A Very Happy Anniversary to EFHS

Message from the President…

As we head into fall, the East Falls Historical Society is looking forward to exciting new directions in this 10th year of promoting and preserving our community’s history:  A new blog of neighborhood stories invites your memories and questions. Developing events and volunteer initiatives seek to engage all ages. Social media “Easter eggs” like never-before-seen photos and articles for fun and curiosity’s sake.

Plus, for me, the biggest event of the year:  East Falls House Party in the newly-restored Hohenadel Mansion on Indian Queen Lane. Proceeds benefit East Falls Historical Society and East Falls Community Council, in a first-time collaboration for this kind of event.

EastFallsHouse.com represents the merging of two big interests — writing and history — with my love of East Falls and its “can do” attitude. Indeed, it was that pluck that drew me to the house’s owners, Sean Hawley and Felicite Moorman, who last March cheerfully showed us around, shared renovation plans, and expressed interest in working with community groups.

Soon, they agreed to let us blog their adventure — with an open door policy, no holds barred. BIG THANKS, by the way, to Sean and Felicite, their kids Soleil, Finn & Lily, their contractor Mike Labetti and his crew for rolling so graciously with our questions and camera-clicking.

Restoring an old house involves a good deal of architectural research, and delving into Hohenadel House’s history revealed a wealth of tragedies, successes, rumors and mysteries. John Hohenadel’s former home anchored a rich, diverse community quietly occupying these riverside hills since the days of William Penn.

falls-of-the-schuylkill-and-fort-st-davids-1794-bill-cannon18th century image of East Falls (known then as Fort St. David’s)

A search for the house’s deed led to the Historical Society, which then led to exciting new projects as president, including new website offerings and cooperative efforts with other East Falls organizations (such as EFCC) to help pool our resources for the best possible events and services.

Speaking of: while EastFallsHouse.com started out as a pet writing project, it’s since grown into an off-shoot of EastFallsHistoricalSociety.com — I’m webmaster for both sites, which share a lot of content. Every neighborhood has its historians; hopefully we’ll hear from the “Mayors of the Block” who’ve been watching and listening all their lives.

Like Wendy Moody, Ellen Sheehan and Katy Hineline, who deserve  big thanks for a decade of dedicated service, and recognition here for all their time, effort & foresight involved in pulling EFHS together.

Ten years ago, these ladies looked around at all the colorful history here, and realized if someone didn’t do something soon, East Falls would lose its unique heritage. Without an organized effort to archive & preserve our photos, records and clippings, our community’s most cherished collections would inevitably wind up divided and distributed throughout regional societies and museums.

Not on their watch! East Falls is too proud, too scrappy — too interesting! — to play second fiddle to GermantownManayunk or Roxborough. In April 2004, the three officially declared their mission as custodians and champions of East Fall’s rich, diverse past: the East Falls Historical Society was born!

EFHS first mtgFRONT: Marion Walsh, Mary Healy, Megan Grady, Ellen Sheehan, Katy Hineline, Heather Sparks, Jean Benjamin, Jane Wolf, Marion Robbins

BACK: Robert Healy, Kathy Gillard, Robert Shaw, Jane Early, Stephanie Epstein, Adam Eyring, Rob Shoaff, Wendy Moody, Joe Terry, Delores Buzniak, Frankie Jeuds, George Robbins, and Esther Kurtz.

Since January of this year, EFHS has been quietly revamping its website and digital offerings, adding an informally educational blog this summer, with new features in the works. In addition, the EFHS’s new Social Media and Historic Preservation teams have been busy on dynamic new events and services to bring our history to life.

Keep connected to EFHS.com for upcoming walks & talks including some dog-friendly tours and exciting collaborations with local groups and businesses. Investigations, Antiques Roadshow nights, and more historical beer replications. e-Shopping for gifts and exclusive images.

Perhaps most importantly, we’re currently scouting locations for a very special museum featuring one of East Falls’ most beloved international icons — details TBA at “East Falls House Party” this October 18th.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED     Submit your own articles on East Falls history for fame and feedback. Share old family photos. Show off heirlooms and collectibles. Design a cool mug or shirt logo for our upcoming e-Store. Join our spunky force of Tour Guides, or help us tweak our WordPress template. Library sleuths and researchers needed, too. Fill out the volunteer form  to get started today!

Happy Birthday, East Falls Historical Society — we’re just getting started.


Steve Fillmore
East Falls Historical Society, president