Civil War Philadelphia and Its Countryside

Chestnut Hill Historical Society   8708 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118

Hours/Access Policy
Archives Hours: Tuesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and most Saturdays 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Appointments are preferred. Admission and research fee is $15 (free for members). Inquiries about our holdings and ready-reference questions will be answered without charge on the telephone.

Contact Information
For more information about the CHHS Collection please contact Liz Jarvis, CHHS Archivist, at 215-247-0417 x205, or by email at Website:

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Founded in 1967; the Chestnut Hill Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and nurturing the historical, physical, and cultural resources, and the character of Chestnut Hill.The Chestnut Hill Historical Society maintains a growing collection of more than 15,000 items documenting the community’s architectural and social history from the 1680s to the present. The collection contains architectural drawings and other building records; more than 3,000 photographic images; maps including real estate atlases from the 1870s through the 1930s; prints, drawings, deeds, diaries, genealogical materials, books, taped and transcribed oral histories, and selected objects. The collection is available to the public for research purposes.

Civil War Collection
The Civil War collection at CHHS relates mainly to the Mower General Hospital, also called the Chestnut Hill Hospital. Chestnut Hill, the highest point in Philadelphia, was a destination for clean air and a healthful environment. The vast Mower General Hospital opened in 1863 to care for wounded Civil War soldiers. The wounded arrived at the Chestnut Hill Railroad station, roughly where the Wyndmoor station is today. Occupying 27 acres, the hospital extended from the railroad line to Stenton Avenue. It accommodated 4,500 patients, about three times Chestnut Hill's population at the time. Some people who lived in Chestnut Hill worked or volunteered at the hospital. Mower Hospital was the largest Civil War hospital in the Philadelphia area.

Collection Highlights, or of interest (significant collections divided by subject and sub-divided by format)

The Home Front/Civilians:

 Naylor Photo Collection (1900-1910) contains images of:

1. 5 East Chestnut Hill Ave., house built not long after Chestnut Hill Railroad was completed in 1854. General Joshua T. Owen (1821-1887), who served during the Civil War, was “one of the house’s occupants.”

2. 8765 Montgomery Ave., summer home of John Lowber Welsh. Frank Furness, noted architect who designed the house, and Lowber trained for Civil War in the volunteer First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary on the present site of Chestnut Hill Academy. 

3. SE Corner Stenton Avenue and Paper Mill Road, house originally owned by Henry J. Williams. His niece, Julia Williams Rush Biddle (1833-1898; married in 1855)     and her husband, Colonel Alexander Biddle (1819-1899),  lived in this home,  "Lanoraie."  It is not clear who actually built the home, Williams or Biddle. Colonel Biddle served on General Ulysses S. Grant's staff during the Civil War. 

The Medical Contribution:


There are records and information on the Mower General Hospital, also called Chestnut Hill Hospital, compiled during the research to apply for a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker for the site. Some specific items in the collection are as follows:

1. Mower U.S.A. General Hospital lithograph by James Queen, 1863 and a second view of the hospital by an unknown artist, c.1884.

2. “Chestnut Hill” song lyrics by William Ulsh of the 190th Regiment PA Volunteers about the Chestnut Hill Hospital, 1865.

3. Copies of letters to and from James Perry, who was wounded in the Civil War and treated at Mower Hospital until he died, 1864; as well as information on others treated there.

4. Images of Christ Ascension Lutheran Church in Chestnut Hill, which holds the bell formerly at Mower General Hospital in its belfry.

5. Original document, “Partial Descriptive List and Account of Pay and Clothing of Corp. AA.W. Clarke..,” 1864 at Mower Hospital.

Published Chestnut Hill History Resources

1. Contosta, David R. Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850-1990. Columbus : Ohio State University Press, 1992.

2. Detweiler, Willard S., Jr., Inc. Chestnut Hill : an architectural history. Prepared for the Chestnut Hill Historical Society by Willard S. Detweiler. Jr., Inc. Philadelphia : [Chestnut Hill Historical Society], [Printer: Data-Matic Systems Co.], 1969.

3. Jarvis, Elizabeth Farmer. Chestnut Hill Revisited . Portsmouth, NH : Arcadia Publishers, 2004.

4. Keels, Thomas H. and Elizabeth Farmer Jarvis. Chestnut Hill. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishers, 2002.


This project has been generously supported by the Honorable Larry Farnese, PA Senator, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.


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