The History of the Springfield Township Historical Society
The Springfield Township Historical Society was founded in 1985 after the loss of Whitemarsh Hall, an estate in Wyndmoor.
Marie Kitto, who for decades served as the unofficial historian of Springfield Township, had done extensive research on the settlement, citizens and properties of the township. For many years, she presented slide shows on historic properties; her research enabled a number of buildings to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
One property researched was Whitemarsh Hall, a 300 acre estate in Wyndmoor owned by investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury. The mansion, designed by renowned Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and built in 1916, was sold to Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company in 1943. After the company moved its operations to Valley Forge, it was left vacant and passed through several owners before being torn down in 1980.
In the Historical Society’s first year of incorporation, leaders were James P. Geoghegan, president; Marie Kitto and Shirley Hanson, co-vice presidents; Robert Cutler, recording secretary; Dorothy Cutler, corresponding secretary; George Parrish, treasurer. Directors were John Ballard, Roy Hanshaw, John Jackson, Jane Johnson and Virginia Wilmsen. Among the people who were inﬂuential in the founding of the Historical Society was Aubrey Williams, a local historian and former Springfield Township police officer, who wrote a township history and corresponded with Kitto in the 1970s and 1980s from his home in Arizona.
Activities and projects in the society’s early years included programs on and tours of historic properties in Springfield, how to research a house through deeds and to help others in their own research. The Historical Society also participated in a county-wide initiative to have historic markers placed on a number of properties in the township.
In later years, the Historical Society worked with Springfield Township, Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike and the Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee to restore the inn at 1432 Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown, now home to the historical society archives and several independent businesses. Among other activities have been programs on a wide assortment of subjects, events and trips, and support of the Yeakel Cemetery in Wyndmoor.
Soon after the historical society was founded, the James P. Geoghegan Award was established to recognize an individual who contributed to the betterment of the community. Kitto was the award’s first and only winner. An award was established in her name in 2007 to honor a person determined to have made significant contributions to our tenets of research, preservation, andeducation. Winners have been RichardMeyers, an Oreland contractor whospecialized in historic restoration; Don Mitchell, former president of Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike; Richard Wood Snowden, who has worked to preserve some of the township’s larger properties; William Mebane, M.D., vice chairman of the Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee; Doug Heller, posthumously, for his broad contributions to the preservation of our community’s historic resources, most notably the Black Horse Inn, and Edward Zwicker IV, former historical society president, for his passionate interest in preserving local history.