(The following is a special series onwritten by guest contributing writer William Knowles. He highlights his passions of of trying something new whenever the opportunity presents itself, or possibly something old, but new again since it has been a while. I hope you enjoy his very special perspective that I am sure many of you can relate to. Follow him on his exciting journey “Around Town”)
On Saturday, August 8th, a special event was held at the historic mansion known as Glenn Foerd on the Delaware. Located just at the edge of Northeast Philadelphia city limits in the Torresdale neighborhood, the hidden estate on the banks of the river was the scene for a Roaring 20’s party known as Jazz Age on the Delaware. This celebration of almost a century gone by was innovative, spirited and fun.
Upon walking up the long driveway to the main grounds of the estate, you instantly felt that you were transported to the past. This was not only due to the theme of the event, but the location itself as well. Torresdale was long ago the home to many wealthy individuals who were deeply involved in town civics. It is where many notable mansions were built prior to the Main Line coming into prominence.
The sounds of big band and jazz immediately hit you as you entered the main grounds of the estate, led by such live acts as Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, the Gin Canaries and the Red Hot Ramblers (with lead singer Chelsea Reed). A wood dance floor permitted the guests, almost all dressed in period appropriate garb, to cut the rug at their leisure. Additionally, such professional acts like the Old City Sweethearts and the Minsky Sisters performed the dances of the day. The emcee, Dandy Wellington, kept things exciting and moving at a fast pace. Numerous food and drink vendors set up shop, and a pie contest was held with prizes awarded to the best baker by a panel of judges. Apparel, jewelry and art with a 20’s theme was also available for purchase. After the day’s events concluded, an after party was held in downtown Philly, at the great Prime Rib restaurant located in the old Warwick Hotel.
As I touched upon though, the true star of the show was the location itself. Normally open for tours, the staff of the Glenn Foerd allowed guests of the party to walk through parts of the old home as part of the festivities. The incredible art and architecture that has been preserved, along with what was then modern technology, presents a window into how life truly was different in past centuries. The scenic view of the river is breathtaking. For those that enjoy history as much as I do, it is a must to visit this part of Americana, and can be considered as vital as seeing the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall as far as our city’s past is concerned.
This organizers of this event indicate that it will be an annual affair, and I look forward to enjoying it again next summer. It truly was an experience in a time warp, and here is to hoping that there are more get-togethers such as this that are as innovative and thoughtful to form. See you soon “around town”…