NEWS: May 2009

Vol. 2, No. 5

In This Issue:

Chandelier, Members Reading Room.  Photo by Jim Carroll



As we progress into what is proving to be a muggy and rainy spring, the Athenaeum has engineers crawling through the rafters and up onto the roof to study ways that we can stabilize our south party wall which was weakened decades ago when the two Regency townhouses to the south were demolished.  At the same time we are attempting to deal with third-floor windows which also require major repairs so that the window glass will not fall out.  One staff person who works on the third floor has already experienced the shock of falling glass on a windy day.  Fortunately, he was not seriously injured; but we don't want that to happen to other staff or to books stored on the third floor.  When the Superintendence Committee (Robert Linck and Hyman Myers) toured the building last year, they called for the replacement of the windows; but, of course, nothing is easy in a historic property.  We first sought the skill of Ted Nickles, who has replaced windows in many historic structures in Philadelphia, including the John Bartram House, the Arch Street Meeting House, and Grumblethorpe, among others.  Nickles Contracting Company has replaced one window as a demonstration of the way it should be done, and the worst part of that window can be viewed below in a detail taken by Robert Linck. (note the hole where birds used to peep in and attempt to nest!)  We also include an "after" view so that you can see what has been done to this particular window.  Each window will cost $3300 to replace, and we have 13 windows.  Will you help us with this important project by financing one or two windows?  If you would like to see the repaired window in place on the third floor, please contact me (; and I'll arrange for a third-floor tour.  Thank you for your help, and, as usual, I hope to see all of you at the First Saturday for May, the Literary Award presentation on May 6th, the Rebecca Yamin Lecture in June, or just around the building!









Banner Image: Chandelier, Members Reading Room.  Photo by Jim Carroll


Staff News: Congratulations to Denise Fox, whose quilt "New Jersey Beauty" won first place in Small Wall Quilts: 1st Entry in the American Quilter’s Society Contest held in Paducah, KY. 

Charles E. Peterson Fellowship

The Athenaeum's Peterson Fund and the Society of Architectural Historians have collaborated to award the first annual Charles E. Peterson Fellowship for the Buildings of the United States to Kate M. Kocyba of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The presentation took place in Pasadena, CA, at the Annual Meeting of the SAH. This award supports a student who will conduct research on American architecture and technology prior to 1860. Since Charles E. Peterson was an active and early member of the Society of Architectural Historians, even publishing an article in their first volume of the Journal of 1941 (when the SAH was still called the American Society of Architectural Historians), this award will continue into the 21st century his support of the research activities of the Society.

L-R: Athenaeum Executive Director Sandra L. Tatman with first Peterson Fellow Kate M. Kocyba, Karen Kingsley, Editor-in-Chief of the Buildings of the United States and Brian Clancy, Assistant Editor, BUS.

Dr. Robert J. Gill Retires from the Athenaeum Board

One of the longest serving members of the Athenaeum Board, Dr. Gill purchased a share in the Athenaeum in 1958 and was proposed by the Reverend Ernest A. Harding. In 1966, while Edwin T. P. Boone, Jr., was Secretary for the Athenaeum, he agreed to serve on the Athenaeum Board and has remained an active member of the Board, for many years serving as the chair of the Literary Award Committee and most recently working very energetically on the Athenaeum Strategic Plan in 2008. Before retiring from active practice, Dr. Gill was a physician associated with the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Head of the Section on Vascular Disease and Hypertension at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Gill’s rotation on the Board will be assumed by Shaun F. O’Malley, Chairman Emeritus, Price Waterhouse LLP.


L-R: Librarian Ellen Rose, Dr. Gill, Lea Carson Sherk and Jane D. McPherson discuss the Literary Award nominees, c. 1991-1992.


Literary Award Presentation

The Literary Awards Committee Invites you to the Athenaeum Literary Award to be presented to Walter A. McDougall for Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877. The sequel to Freedom Just Around the Corner in which Dr. McDougall chronicled America’s beginnings, Throes of Democracy opens with the fire of 1835 which destroyed Lower Manhattan and finishes with the election and Centennial celebration of 1876. Much more than just a traditional history of the period surrounding the Civil War, Throes of Democracy casts a broad net, revealing surprising facts and developments that shaped this period. 


May 6, 2009, 5:30pm


RSVP to Susan Gallo at or 215-925-2688.


Society Hill Annual Open House and Garden Tour

Society Hill’s Annual Open House and Garden Tour will take place on Sunday, May 31st, from 1-5 pm Tickets are now on sale for this “must see” self-guided tour of over ten private homes and gardens in one of our nation’s most historic neighborhoods.

Each year, the Society Hill Tour offers a fresh line-up of exceptional homes and gardens that range in style and décor from the 18th and 19th century periods to the most contemporary.

Sponsored by the Society Hill Civic Association, in Center City Philadelphia, proceeds from the tour are used for neighborhood improvement projects. 

Advance purchases are encouraged. To purchase your ticket or to receive more information, please call the Society Hill Civic Association at 215-629-1288 or email Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the tour — at Old Pine Street Church, 412 Pine Street, Philadelphia.

Date: Sunday, May 31, 2009.
Time: 1 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $25 per ticket
Complimentary light refreshments
Restrooms available
Comfortable shoes encouraged
Photographs not permitted


Save the Date:  

May 2: First Saturday, Athenaeum Open, 10:00am-2:00pm

May 6: "Reading Shakespeare" Seminar, 3:30pm

May 6: Literary Award Presentation, 5:30pm

May 12: Socrates Cafe, 11:00am

May 16: Book Arts Workshops

See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday and 10:00AM-2:00PM on the first Saturday of each month. The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information, or call 215-925-2688.


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