PlanPhilly

Look Up! Abington Township's flirtation with Hollywood

    • Looks like Hollywood and Vine, but it's Fox Chase Road and Los Angeles Avenue in Abington Township.
      Looks like Hollywood and Vine, but it's Fox Chase Road and Los Angeles Avenue in Abington Township.
    • Some homeowners have landscaped with plants that fit Gustav Weber's vision and the local climate.
      Some homeowners have landscaped with plants that fit Gustav Weber's vision and the local climate.
    • Red coxcomb complements a pink bungalow.
      Red coxcomb complements a pink bungalow.
    • A Moorish roofline rises over Abington Township's Hollywood.
      A Moorish roofline rises over Abington Township's Hollywood.
    • A one-story, flat roof house sits back from Berkeley Avenue.
      A one-story, flat roof house sits back from Berkeley Avenue.
    • A two-story home celebrates the Mission style.
      A two-story home celebrates the Mission style.
    • The stucco facades of many Hollywood homes have suffered in the East Coast climate.
      The stucco facades of many Hollywood homes have suffered in the East Coast climate.
    • Some homeowners have added aluminum siding but kept Weber's pastel colors.
      Some homeowners have added aluminum siding but kept Weber's pastel colors.
    • The Southwestern style is maintained by many residents.
      The Southwestern style is maintained by many residents.
    • Other homes bask in the idea of California sunshine.
      Other homes bask in the idea of California sunshine.
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Look Up” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. Each week, the photo essay will focus on a different Philadelphia area neighborhood and its distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

In the 1920s, the American dream of homeownership was idealized in movieland and epitomized by the Southern California lifestyle. So when California builder Gustav Weber planned a 174-house neighborhood in 1928 in southern Abington Township, Pa., he used the Mission bungalow and Art Deco styles as his inspiration and called the community “Hollywood.” The homes sold quickly for $4,000 to $5,000.

The neighborhood is bordered by Huntingdon Pike, Fox Chase and Cedar Roads, but the street names within the enclave are Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, Redondo, Berkeley and San Gabriel. Mission arches, Moorish rooflines, adobe features and pastel colors still enhance many of the homes.

But Weber’s dream didn’t quite fit the Northeastern climate. The flat roofs leaked, the Moravian tile sidewalks cracked, and the Western plants, including palm trees, didn’t last long in the East Coast winters.

Weber’s community wasn’t completed until the 1940s by a local developer. In succeeding decades, concrete replaced the tile sidewalks, and aluminum siding covered some of the stucco.

Still, the Hollywood Tavern welcomes visitors to the community, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has listed the area as eligible for the national registry. 


"Look Up" Rittenhouse Square's stables

"Look Up" Fairmount's contribution to the row home dynamic

"Look Up" Drexel's Poth Dynasty

"Look Up" Wright's Ardmore Experiment

"Look Up" Contemporary neighbors in Society Hill

"Look Up" Imaginative Eyre on Locust Street

"Look Up!" Elfreth's Alley has issues

"Look Up" Architectural exercises on Boathouse Row

"Look Up!" John Notman's brownstone temples

"Look Up!" 19th Century luxe on Locust St.

"Look Up!: 20th Century evolution in East Falls

"Look Up!" Rural retreats in Northeast Philly

"Look Up!" Modernist lines on Haverford Ave.

"Look Up!" Chestnut Hill's modernist gems


Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.



"Look Up!" The Art Deco Palace of Mt. Airy
"Look Up! An architect's legacy on Spruce Street
"Look Up!" The French Village in Mt. Airy
"Look Up" and check out the nouveau mansions of North Broad

"Look Up" and check out elegant Southwark
"Look Up" and check out Henry Disston's company town
"Look Up: and check out Spruce Hill
"Look Up" and check out Green Street
"Look Up" and check out West Laurel Hill
"Look Up" and check out Parkside
"Look Up" and check out Awbury Arboretum
"Look Up" and check out Nicetown
"Look Up" and check out Overbrook Farms
"Look Up" and check out Girard Estate
"Look Up" and check out Rittenhouse/Fitler Square

About the author

Alan Jaffe, Contributor

Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”

ajaffe@planphilly.com



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