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Valley Green: 1909

Valley Green: 1909

Philadelphia circa 1909. "Valley Green, Fairmount Park." Back in the day, less green than gray. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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I grew up very near to this

I grew up very near to this place and it is still there. In fact my wife and I are having our anniversary brunch there on Sunday 2-26. It's a beautiful area.

So-called Colonial Restoration

The Wissahickon, 1922.

Of all the inns and roadhouses, once numerous enough along the creek, only one still stands, offering temperate refreshment to travelers—Valley Green Inn. Tradition, which is not at all dependable, would make the inn at least 150 years old. For it is said Washington and Lafayette dined there one day on their way from the camp at Barren Hill to Germantown. Another story has it that a large quantity of wine sent from France to Franklin was buried there for safekeeping while the British occupied Philadelphia.

Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850-1990,
David Contosta, 1992.

Given the interests of the Colonial Dames, a patriotic lineage society that had been founded in 1890 in order to honor the pre-Revolutionary ancestors of fellow members, it is not surprising that the were attracted by a series of myths about the Valley Green Inn. Although the structure then standing dated from about 1850, an apparently false local legend held that a pre-Revolutionary inn had stood on the site and that George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette had dined there during their retreat from Barren Hill to Valley Forge.

The Dames proposed to remodel the inn "along original lines," but photographs of the 1850 structure show that they had no intention of doing an exact restoration of the midcentury building. Instead, the women and their architects decided to use their imaginations and to create what they thought a colonial inn should be. Like so much so-called colonial restoration of the day, the resultant Valley Green Inn was largely fantasy. Among its more charming but unauthentic features were leaded glass windows on the upper story, stylized picket gates, and built-in porch benches with large scrolled shoulder rests.

Valley Green In(n) Snow

In Our History of the Valley Green Inn we may read that also this building narrowly escaped from being demolished, as so many builings, shown on Shorpy over the years.

Modern sign not there any more

I'm old fashioned in my thinking. To me, a Bell Telephone is a modern appliance. But, only the old photo has a sign advertising a Public Bell System Telephone! When I pass by there next, I'll report if the instrument (or even its modern push button replacement) is still in the premisses.

A favorite spot

Many of us go walking along Forbidden Drive with Valley Green as our destination. The stable beside the Inn was wrecked in the flooding of this summer's hurricane, but they are rebuilding it. Horses, bicycles and dogs all patiently wait while their humans sip lemonade on the porch or have a meal.

Many's the wedding that is celebrated here. In face we came here with friends and family to celebrate our daughter's first communion. It's a lovely spot. Not to be missed on a visit to Philadelphia!


I noted some minor differences between the 1909 photo and the modern one posted by J W Wright, like the addition of more lighting on the front, and the change to the hanging sign, but one that's more subtle is the failure to repaint the period at the end of the lettering on the side of the building.


The most fitting word for this cozy scene, would try to do a watercolour of this, but I don't have enough greens.


This is one of the most idyllic scenes I've ever seen here on Shorpy. I just want to go up and join those lovely ladies for a nice cup of tea.

In Wissahickon Valley Park, now

And almost entirely unchanged:

Valley Green Inn Philadelphia Pennsylvania

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