Glencairn was built by Raymond Pitcairn, “self-taught cathedral architect” (as his New York Times obituary described him) and heir to the massive empire created by his father, John, the founder of PPG industries.
After completing construction of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral of the The New Church, Pitcairn turned to building himself a new house. Located north of Philadelphia (the Philly skyline can be seen from the top of the mansion’s seven-story tower), it was designed by Pitcairn and constructed between 1928 and 1939, while Pitcairn was simultaneously fighting against Roosevelt’s New Deal. Glencairn is built in the Romanesque style out of hand-cut stone and concrete. It contains 90 rooms, including 17 bedrooms, a chapel, and the expansive living room, decorated with both actual Medieval-era items and modern recreations built by artisans in the same style.
A few years after completing the Trenton Bath House, Louis Kahn designed the one-bedroom Esherick house for a bookstore owner who want plenty of reading nooks. The current owners conducted a 17 month restoration of the house.
Nonexistent or weakly enforced laws in Philadelphia have led to historic graves being destroyed by construction. Hastily organized rescue excavations have salvaged some of these human remains, but others have been destroyed, or are threatened by future development projects. In an attempt to reduce the damage to historic cemeteries, archaeologists in the city have produced an interactive map showing where unmarked gravesites and burial yards were located. They caution, however, that the map does not show all historic burial locations, and that even if a historic cemetery is documented to have been relocated at some time in the past, many human remains are likely still present in the original location. Read more about the issues that led to the creation of this map at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.
Why does the American Swedish Historical Museum have an exhibit on Indian motorcycles? Because one of the founders of the Indian Motorcycle Company, Carl Oscar Hedstrom, was an immigrant from Sweden. The museum, located in Philadelphia, has several motorcycles and other artifacts on display. While there, you can also pick up some herring and lingonberry preserves at the gift shop.
The Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia has many interesting things in its natural history collection, most still exhibited in their Victorian era display cabinets. But one thing they don’t have is a passenger pigeon. So they borrowed one from the nearby John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge. The mounted specimen will be on display at the Wagner until September 2014.