NEWS: September 2009

Vol. 2, No. 9

In This Issue:

Key to Chess Room cabinets.


Greetings from the Executive Director,


I hope that by next week most of you will have returned from summer breaks and will have the Fall Schedule which we mailed a few weeks ago.  Please remember that no other mailing will be issued (saving us a lot of postage and printing), but reminders will be posted in your e-newsletter and on the Events Calendar on our website.  If you have friends who do not receive the e-newsletter, please remind them to keep their fall schedule so that they will have access to the many lectures, gallery talks, and workshops which we are holding this fall season.

We’ve closed the very popular children’s book illustration show and have opened an exhibition which is already causing some excitement among our membership and beyond.  The Jacob Stelman architectural photographs remind many of the way that Philadelphia used to look with beloved commercial landmarks like the Dewey’s at 17th and Walnut and the old Kona Kai out on City Line Avenue.  This exhibition is really a walk down memory lane for many people.

This newsletter is also a call for participation of our readers.  Do you have a favorite book that you would like to recommend to other readers?  If so, please write a brief review (no more than 50 words, please) that we can publish in our e-newsletter.  We’d like to publish one in each month’s newsletter, so send your contributions to  We would prefer to receive submissions as a Word attachment to an e-mail, but printed articles are also acceptable.  Articles will be edited for length.

And finally:  please remember that we will resume our First Saturdays on October 3rd and that the Athenaeum will be closed on September 7th for Labor Day.  I hope to see all of you as you return from vacations and summer breaks.

Banner Image: Key to Chess Room cabinets.

Peterson Prize

As many of you know, the Athenaeum co-sponsors the Charles E. Peterson Prize with the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Peterson Prize recognizes the best sets of measured drawings prepared to HABS standards, and the drawings are added to the permanent HABS collection at the Library of Congress. This year we were represented on the Peterson Prize jury by Athenaeum Board member Hyman Myers, seen here with the other members of the jury, HABS architect Mark Schara, and Jonathan C. Spodek for the AIA. For 2009 the first prize went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Historic Preservation Department, for their drawings of the 1927 On Leong Merchants Association Building (now Pui Tak Center) in Chinatown, Chicago. 


Recently the Athenaeum’s support for the Peterson Prize gained a substantial donation from the independent HABS Foundation. Herbert Levy, FAIA, is seen here delivering the important check to Dr. Sandra L. Tatman.


Top: (L-R) Mark Schara, Jonathan C. Spodek, Hyman Myers.

Bottom: Sandra Tatman and Herbert Levy.  Photo by Jim Carroll.


Maggie Lidz Lecture and Book Signing

Maggie Lidz, The du Ponts: Houses and Gardens in the Brandywine, 1900-51 (Co-sponsored with the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America).  Illustrated with hundreds of rare period photographs from private archives and family albums, this book features 25 du Pont family houses and farms, including the well-known Winterthur, Longwood, and Nemours estates.  


Maggie Lidz is the estate historian for Winterthur Museum, a du Pont family estate that dates back to 1839.  She is the author of Life at Winterthur: A du Pont Family Album (2001).


September 16, 5:30 PM  Reception to follow.


RSVP to Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or


Athenaeum Summer Interns

This summer the Athenaeum was pleased to host three student interns who came to us from Temple University and Swarthmore College. Caitlin Hieber, Stephanie Su, and Nilaja Walker undertook special projects for the Athenaeum this year. Both Caitlin and Nilaja were supported by funding from Temple University and PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency), and at Swarthmore Stephanie is part of the Mellon Librarian Recruitment Summer Internship Program. Both Temple students added entries to our American Architects and Buildings Project, worked with records for PastPerfect, and lent a hand in the circulating library with barcoding. Stephanie Su worked specifically with the Koblenzer Collection, parts of which were shown in the Athenaeum spring exhibition of illustrated children’s books. 

Kevin McMahon also returned to the Athenaeum this year as a Peterson Intern working on architectural archives with materials prior to 1860. 

Above: (L-R) Caitlin Hieber, Stephanie Su, Nilaja Walker.  Photo by Jim Carroll.


George Batcheler (1927-2009)

The Athenaeum is sad to note the loss of long-time member and friend George D. Batcheler, who died July 13, 2009. George was a native of Phillipsburg, PA and began his architectural career in the office of Philadelphia architect George Daub. For many years he was principal in the firm of Mirick, Pearson & Batcheler (MPB). George led the MPB design team that was responsible for the Athenaeum building’s modernization, restoration and structural improvement in 1975 and 1991. He was married for nearly 40 years to the late Penelope Hartshorne, an historical architect who worked with the National Park Service on the restoration of Independence Hall. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 2PM at the Race Street Friends Meeting, 1515 Cherry Street.


Save the Date:  

September 8: Coffee Day, 9:30-3:30

September 8: Socrates Cafe, 11:00am

September 9: Jacob Stelman Gallery Talk, 5:30pm

September 16: Maggie Lidz will speak on her book The Du Ponts: Houses and Gardens in the Brandywine, 1900-51, 5:30pm


See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday (First Saturday hours suspended until October). 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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