Headquartered in the Whitpain 1895 Public School, the Wissahickon Valley Historical Society serves to educate the public about the heritage and history of the people, institutions and events that have influenced and shaped the communities of the Wissahickon School District which encompasses Whitpain Township, Lower Gwynedd Township and the Borough of Ambler.
Founded in 1975 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Wissahickon Valley Historical Society’s purpose is to preserve the local historical buildings, artifacts and folklore of the historic Wissahickon Valley.
The Franklinville School c.1858 is a white stucco one-room schoolhouse on an acre of ground, located at 1701 Morris Road, Blue Bell, between Normandy Farms Estates and the Windermere Community. It is the only one-room schoolhouse open to the public in Whitpain Township.
The two-story schoolhouse has a Library containing deeds, wills, photos, books, maps and genealogies, a 19th Century School Room and a Museum of local artifacts, focusing on items, pictures and records from the early farms and our industrial past.
Update on the Ambler Train Station Freight House:
December 31, 2023—Funds Still Needed to Save Ambler’s Freight House
“Freight House” beer, a special brew created at Tannery Run Brew Works to benefit WVHS and the “Save the Freight House” campaign, is now available at Bar 31, Harry’s Taproom, and Tannery Run Brew Works. Beer glasses depicting the Freight House are also available at the three bars (while supplies last) and with proceeds helping to save the old building. New research shows that it is older than previously stated, and it may be the first train building in Ambler!
Funds are needed: WVHS hired J&M Preservation Studio, a women-owned engineering firm, to complete a structural assessment and to propose plans and estimate costs for re-use of the building. Their work has already begun.
In October, SEPTA announced plans to demolish the pre-Civil War Freight House. However, Pennsylvania has determined the Freight House to be eligible for national register historic recognition in two ways: the Ambler Borough Commercial District and the North Pennsylvania Railroad Linear Historic District, where it consists of “three major components” (the three buildings at Ambler’s Old Train Station).
A meeting of SEPTA and WVHS officials on October 31 created a demolition delay, so that WVHS could find a way to save the structure. After that meeting, WVHS announced its understanding that “both groups prefer that the building should remain where it is positioned now.” Then WVHS hired J&M Preservation Studio, a women-owned engineering firm, to complete a structural assessment and to propose plans and estimate costs for re-use of the building. WVHS made arrangements for SEPTA to open the building on December 18, when J&M began its study of the broken timbers under the Freight House. It was a “weather advisory” day with pouring rain in the morning and a strong, cold wind in the afternoon. WVHS is raising funds to pay for the services of J&M.
WVHS is grateful to the individuals and businesses who have helped raise the funds to pay for the engineering study conducted by J&M Preservation. A future issue of the Valley Crier will list the donors. A total of $7,840 is needed, and much of that amount has been raised. Everyone can do their part! It’s not too late to send your check. Also, last month’s Valley Crier showed pictures of the “Save the Freight House” holiday ornament and the beer glass (mentioned above), which the Ambler Storytellers have been selling. Although in limited supply, the ornaments are for sale ($20) at Bussingers Train and Toy Store, 57 N Main St, Ambler. Or to use a credit card, go to “Donate” at www.wvalleyhs.org/get-involved/ and then take your proof of purchase to Bussingers to pick up your ornaments.
For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find more news on the Freight House at Ambler Train Station in Committees
Please click here to see our new video about the history of the Franklinville School, prepared by the Historical Society of Montgomery County to encourage donations to the renovations there. WVHS appreciates the assistance of the HSMC