October 15, 2007
There is a piece of history nestled into the woods that few students likely even know exists on the Ambler campus. It’s easy to understand why — the wooded area that surrounds it nearly claimed it entirely over the decades.
During the Spring 2007 semester, however, a group of dedicated faculty members, students, staff, and volunteers, decided to begin taking back the historic Shoemaker House from the overgrowth that had obscured it from all but the most curious searchers.
Sponsored by the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council, students and faculty will brave the woods once more for Phase II of the Shoemaker House Woods Cleanup on Saturday, November 3, from 9 a.m. to Noon.
“On the south end of campus across from the soccer fields, the Shoemaker House dates back to the late 1600s — it’s possibly one of the oldest standing structures in Montgomery County. This historic treasure is a spring house, with crystal clear water flowing into a manmade pond,” said Dr. Deborah Howe, Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, who has been one of the leading proponents in the cleanup effort. “The pond is filled with silt and decades of trash, but it does not take much imagination to see the wonderful opportunities ahead for this special place. We are currently removing invasive vegetation with longer term plans for stabilizing the ruins and restoring the environment with native species.”
Individuals who took part in the cleanup last May “know that we were able to get a lot done and had a blast doing it!”
Surely few participants will forget seeing Community and Regional Planning Assistant Professor Lynn Mandarano tossing logs onto the giant debris pile; or Horticulture Technician Supervisor Karen Watts wielding a chainsaw; or Dean Jim Hilty yanking down overgrown branches; or Research Associate Professor M. Richard Nalbandian, machete in hand, attacking one particularly stubborn root with almost manic glee.
“We are hoping even more members of the campus community can join us on November 3” Dr. Howe said. “We will have a chipper on site to clean up what we cut and to tackle the pile we left last time we worked. We will also have a bulldozer, chainsaw, and some loppers.”
Dr. Howe asks that volunteers also bring their own tools if available, but be sure to mark them with your name. Work pants and a heavy long sleeve shirt are suggested to protect against scratches and poison ivy. Extra work gloves will be on hand, but volunteers should bring their own if they have them.
“In addition to cutting back and pulling out multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and other invasive species, we will remove trash that has been dumped in the pond — If you have waders or knee high boots please bring them with you,” Dr. Howe said. “It is the hope of the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council to stabilize the structure in the not too distant future — these cleanups are a step in that direction by bringing attention to this special place. Shoemaker House provides the campus an excellent opportunity to not only talk about historic preservation, environmental restoration, and sustainability but to put it into action.”
Anyone interested in participating in the November 3 clean up is asked to send a message to CRPlanning@temple.edu, providing your name and contact information. Questions can be directed to Deborah Howe at 267-468-8301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.