NEWS: July 2010

Vol. 3, No. 7

In This Issue:

Banner Image: Rittenhouse Square.  Photo by Karl F. Lutz, 1936.



Is it hot enough for you? Although we predict a quiet week after July 4th at the Athenaeum, our loyal readers are still coming in for summer reading and air conditioning. New Book Week this month has begun with a steady stream of Athenaeum members eager to sign up for the latest acquisitions. Athenaeum staff are putting the finishing touches on the Fall 2010 programs, and we are still reminiscing about a very successful walking tour of Rittenhouse Square in early June. The brainchild of Athenaeum Board member Satoko I. Parker, the tour gathered about 60 members and friends to tour private homes, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Rittenhouse Hotel – all ending with a great reception and dinner at the Orpheus Club. Several Athenaeum members and staff functioned as tour guides and “sweepers,” those heroes who keep everyone together and on time. The proceeds of the tour go to our Building Fund. We truly appreciate the work of Dr. Parker and all those who participated in the tour by organizing, guiding, or offering tour sites, and we send out our thanks to those who braved the tornado warning to walk through a sultry Philadelphia afternoon.

Banner Image: Rittenhouse Square.  Photo by Karl F. Lutz, 1936.


New Books for June

Athenaeum Bookshelf  07-2010

Athenaeum Drawings In Two Summer Exhibitions

The National Constitution Center’s Ancient Rome & America exhibition features one of the Athenaeum’s most important architectural drawings, Thomas Ustick Walter’s 1851 watercolor perspective, Design for the Extension of the Capitol. This drawing and a manuscript journal that Walter made of notes on European buildings will be on exhibit through August 1.

For more info see: Ancient Rome & America.

To celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Organization of American States Building in Washington DC, the Athenaeum has loaned four original drawings for the exhibition, The House of the Americas turns 100: Paul Philippe Cret and the Architecture of Dialogue. These drawings illustrate Cret’s first major commission in America, a project where his design was chosen from more than 100 competitors. The exhibition is free and open through August 7.

For more info see: House of the Americas Turns 100: Paul Philippe Cret and the Architecture of Dialogue

Above: Design for the Extension of the U. S. Capitol, Thomas U. Walter, architect, 1851.

Athenaeum Hosts 150th Anniversary of "East Meets West" Shogi Event

In 1860 the first ever Japanese diplomatic delegation to the United States visited the Philadelphia Chess Club. In an event that was reported by both Philadelphia and New York newspapers Athenaeum members participated in the first recorded game of Shogi ever to be played outside of Japan. On Saturday, June 5, 2010, the Athenaeum played host to a re-creation of this historic event. Organized by Swarthmore Professor Alan Baker, the event was attended by a dozen members of the New York Shogi club, including two in full Samurai costume. More than 40 other attendees joined in to learn the Japanese game and compete against club members in the Athenaeum’s Busch Reading Room.

For more pictures and info see Shogi Miscellania.

Above: New York Shogi Club Members Josh Onishi and Ken Shimizu play an exhibition game. Photo by Bernie Resnick.

Freddy The Pig Comes To The Athenaeum

As many of you know, the Athenaeum has a small but growing collection of children’s books. Our most recent acquisition has been donated to us by Athenaeum member Felicia Goodman and consists of a set of Freddy the Pig books. Penned by Walter R. Brooks (who was most famous for his Mr. Ed series on television), the Freddy books began publication in 1927 and finished in 1958, but are still available in reprints which include the delightful Kurt Wiese illustrations. These books pre-dated the more famous Wilbur of Charlotte’s Web (E. B. White; 1952) and Babe the Gallant Pig (Dick King-Smith; 1983). They even pre-dated George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945); and those who find political comment in the Freddy books say that Orwell was influenced by Walter R. Brooks. According to Nicholas Kristof, who wrote about Freddy in the New York Times in July 2009, Freddy is “lazy, messy and sometimes fearful, yet a loyal friend, a first-rate detective and an impressive poet.” Kristof rated Freddy as one of the “The Best Kids’ Books Ever,” and we tend to agree. Our thanks to Felicia Goodman for this donation.


Above: Cover of Freddy and The Perilous Adventure, 1942.


Member Critics

Greg Grandin. Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009.


The story of Fordlandia, which I had never heard about until this book was published, is about the strange adventure of Henry Ford to construct and populate a complete community in the dangerous and disease ridden jungles of Brazil in 1927.


He established a complete city with schools, hospitals, factories and recreation centers which was populated with personnel from other countries as well as the U.S.  He believed in a fully integrated company which produced all the parts going into the manufacture of the automobile.  The only part missing was rubber for tires.  He spent millions to try to grow and extract rubber which failed as well as the entire experiment.  The story was fascinating, interesting, and exciting.


Submitted by Marlene Feldman.


Do you have a book that you loved (or hated), and would you be willing to share that opinion on the Athenaeum e-newsletter?  If so, please send your short essay to


The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday. 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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