Historic Preservation in East Oak Lane


Oak Tree ( 1910 Arts & Crafts Drawing)

The Historic Preservationists work along with the Beautification Committee to preserve and enhance the unique architectural buildings in East Oak Lane and the natural resources of our landscape. East Oak Lane is a green ‘suburb in the city’ founded in 1684 by a Welshman, Griffith Miles. The Quaker, Samuel Carpenter, sold Griffith Miles 250 acres of the 500 acres Carpenter had acquired from William Penn. The area was part of Bristol Township. East Oak Lane originally was known as Milestown, after Griffiths Miles. It also includes a portion of another old area known as Branchtown. In 1854, Bristol Township, home to both Milestown and Branchtown, became part of Philadelphia. Hall W. Mercer gave the area the name Oak Lane in 1860 after an ancient Oak that was blown down in a storm near his farm house. The Lane whose original name was School Lane and Martins Mill Lane became Oak Lane. Oak Lane started to appear on Atlases of the area after that date.

In the 1700 & early 1800s large farms and plantations dotted the landscape with colonial style buildings. The first public buildings erected were two schoolhouses that also served as meeting places and churches.


Armitage School Buildings (1761-1875) Left schoolhouse building 1781 & right Octagon schoolhouse 1817 Drawing of Russell Smith 1837

The vast majority of existing homes and churches in Oak Lane date from the late 1800s after the North Penn Rail Road and York Road Trolley were built. T. Henry Asbury (1840-1907) was the ‘Father of Oak’ because he purchased 115 acres on which he erected great Victorian homes, built churches, clubs, roads, and created Asbury Lake. He employed the services of architects like Harrison Albright, Amos Boyden & many others.


Asbury Home 1901 Architect: Amos Boyden.
 
St. Martins Church 1891 Architect: Harrison Albright

The Historic Preservationists in Oak Lane have purchased & gathered old photographs, maps, manuscript books, published materials and other documents from local historical societies such as the Germantown Historical Society and the Old York Road Historical Society. Individuals currently maintain this historic material but hope to house the rarer material in the future at the Old York Road Historical Society who has agreed to help us in the preservation of East Oak Lane historical documents. The Historic Preservationists hope to raise the awareness of the community to the importance of preserving the historic character of East Oak Lane homes, churches and public buildings. This will be done by lectures and articles written in the local press about our historic neighborhood. Efforts are underway to get much of this information published.

Important links that can help you discover the history of East Oak Lane and its buildings include:

Philadelphia Architects & Buildings:
http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab
Philly History – historic photos of Philadelphia by Street:
http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive
Old York Road Historical Society:
http://www.oyrhs.org
Germantown Historical Association:
http://www.germantownhistory.org/

Contact for more information::  Marita Krivda Poxon (marita_krivda@chs.net)

To call for inquiries or to volunteer for any OLCAA Committees, please contact the East Oak Lane Hotline at: 215-224-2777.
To call for inquiries or to volunteer for any OLCAA Committees, please contact the East Oak Lane Hotline at: 215-224-2777
P.O. Box 2926 Philadelphia, PA 19141
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