The John Samuel Naylor Collection of photographs highlights the rich variety of architecture in Chestnut Hill in the era between 1900 and 1910.
The Naylor Photo Collection is comprised of 125 black and white photographs representing 80 properties with one unidentified residential structure. Of these 80 properties, 24 structures have been demolished. Few of the remaining 66 structures can be seen presently as in the time of Naylor’s photographs. Since then, many of these structures have been altered and adapted to the different uses overtime with minimal traces of the original structure.
These photographs taken with Naylor's 4"x5" Speed Graflex camera convey his interest in photographing overall exterior views of freestanding buildings placed in its physical and natural context. These structures are sited in relatively stark settings as opposed to the lush Wissahickon landscapes and more intensely developed community of today. In general, the buildings are quickly recognizable,however, closer study will show both subtle and major distinctions over the past 90 years. The images illustrate how buildings have been used for current living styles during Naylor’s time, and point to the dynamic nature of a community that seems so changeless. Viewers also can glimpse some of the more ephemeral accounterments of the streetscapes that have disappeared over time - street lamps, fences, paving, and outbuildings.
The Naylor Collection was donated to the Chestnut Hill Historical Society in memory of Marion Naylor Swartley, daughter of John Samuel and Anna Herbert Naylor, by her nephews and nieces, George Andrew Dunning of Oreland, PA, Frances Dunning Borie of Wyndmoor, PA, and Diana Dunning Madden of Stuart, Florida. They are also the grandchildren of John Samuel Naylor.
Conservation of the photographs was carried out by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts under a grant from the William Penn Foundation.