Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Bevan, Joshua (2016). Henry H. Houston's Germantown Development Portfolio, 1860-1895: A Niche Suburb's History and Placement Within Suburban Historiography and Preservation Planning. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Over the course of 25 years, Pennsylvania Railroad Company executive and land developer, Henry H. Houston, amassed a real estate portfolio spanning 3,000-plus acres in northwestern Philadelphia. Houston’s holdings in Germantown, an emerging Philadelphia suburb during the mid-Nineteenth century, have been overshadowed in terms of scholarly research by Houston’s large-scale community development in neighboring Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Accordingly, this thesis aims to uncover a comprehensive development narrative for Houston’s Germantown development, connecting land holdings, associated dwellings, architectural character, and social history together in order to determine if Houston’s role in Germantown was simply a precursor to later development or integral to suburbanization in Northwest Philadelphia.

Key aspects of the historic narrative include: Germantown’s initial period of rapid suburbanization during the 1850s and subsequent suburban growth during the 1880s; Houston’s influence upon the character of the neighborhood both architecturally and demographically; and the overall significance of Houston-era development in Germantown as it relates to suburban development typologies established by scholars and preservation entities such as the National Park Service. Methodologically, this thesis utilizes archival research, field/site documentation through photography and GIS mapping, and secondary research spanning several contexts including suburban history, architectural history, and social history.


G.W. Hewitt, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Tulpehocken Station Historic District, PARR, NPS



Date Posted: 31 May 2016