On a small plaza with stone benches, there are tiled reliefs of a turtle, fish, mill, and the coats of arms of William Penn and Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of Germantown. There’s an old water fountain and a horse trough, plus seasonal plantings.
Facing the corner of Germantown Avenue & Cresheim Valley Drive is a tablet that reads: “This valley was named Krisheim by the Germans of the Rhine who bought the land from William Penn in 1687 and called it after their native village. Germantown Road follows the old Indian trail.” The adjacent bridge carrying the present day Avenue over Cresheim Creek was built in 1884. That same year, Pennsylvania Railroad opened its Chestnut Hill (West) line, and it included a branch that spurred toward Fort Washington after Allens Lane. The branch’s first station stop was Germantown Road; its building stands directly across the Avenue.
On the pergola’s column closest to Cresheim Valley Drive, FOW placed a plaque in 1945 to commemorate a grove of trees planted to honor the life and service of Samuel Baxter, longtime Fairmount Park arborist.
Most of all, the Cresheim Valley Pergola is a celebration of collaboration and unity. The pergola stands where Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy come together — and where an ancient road of human activity and an ancient creek through Mother Nature’s dominion exchange pleasantries on their respective journeys.
The pergola and the land on which it resides were donated by the Houston and Woodward families in 1909. The Chestnut Hill Rotary Club led a restoration of the pergola in advance of its centennial in 2009. The first phase of the Cresheim Trail opened three years later, with a trailhead just steps from the pergola. The trail will eventually follow the route of the old Fort Washington train out to Stenton Avenue and into Montgomery County.
Written by Brad Maule, FOW Crew Leader
- Salganicoff, Lori. “Discovering Chestnut Hill: A Tour of Germantown Avenue’s necklace of green space.” Chestnut Hill Local, 13 September 2018. Accessed online 15 February 2021 at https://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/stories/discovering-chestnut-hill-a-tour-of-germantown-avenues-necklace-of-green-space,11691
- Purdom, Christopher William. “Cresheim Valley Pergola.” Philart.net. Accessed 22 February 2021.
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You probably don’t need us to tell you how special Wissahickon Valley Park is. It’s 1800 acres provides habitat to wildlife, refuge & recreation to over a million visitors per year, and protects the drinking water for one third of Philadelphians. The park can’t take care of itself, however. It needs responsible park users and stewards to keep this special place clean and sustainable for generations to come.