Tuomi’s Time Machine: The Pastorius Monument

Photos courtesy of Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown (left) and Fairmount Park Conservancy (right).

Once known only as the “monument in a box,” the Pastorius monument finally got its place in the sun.

Many of you have probably passed the Pastorius Monument in Vernon Park – erected in celebration of Francis Daniel Pastorius and the 13 original families arriving in 1683 to settle the area now known as Germantown – but are probably unaware of the history of the monument itself. The monument was a victim of timing.

Designed by Alfred Jaegers, the monument was to be completed by October 6, 1914. However, the arrival of World War I interrupted these plans. The erection of the statue began two years later and continued into 1917. By that time, the United States had entered World War I and anti-German sentiment ran very high. As a result, the United States War Department took control of the statue and encased it in a large plywood box to protect it from vandalism.

After the War ended in 1919, people began to wonder what would become of “the monument in the box.” Finally, the City of Philadelphia accepted the gift of the monument in December of that year. A year later, a dedication ceremony was finally held, and the Pastorius Monument has stood in its present location for almost 100 years.

Until recently, the monument sat neglected. The area underneath the statue is made from fill which settled over the years; cracks began to show up in the statue’s base as a result. According to the Fairmount Park Conservancy website, restoration of the monument occurred in the spring of 2018. For more information on the restoration of the Pastorius Monument and others in Vernon Park, visit MyPhillyPark.org.

Discover Germantown History

This article is one in a series written by Alex Bartlett, Librarian and Archivist of the Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown. For additional information or to learn more about the history of our area, please call him at (215)844-1683 or email library@germantownhistory.org.

Did you know the Germantown Historical Society has thousands of historical photographs of local subjects available online? You can see them at www.germantownhistory.org by clicking on “online photographs collections” on the home page. Then, use the “keyword search” function to search for photographs. Enjoy!

About Historic Germantown

Historic Germantown (HG) is a partnership of 18 historic houses, destinations, and museums that have joined together to protect, preserve, and share some of the area’s prized cultural assets.

HG manages the Germantown Historical Society archives and a collection of over 50,000 items; for more information, visit Germantownhistory.org or FreedomsBackyard.com. Located at 5501 Germantown Ave. (MAP LINK) 215-844-1683. Email library@germantownhistory.org.

About Tuomi Forrest 3 Articles
Tuomi Forrest has been Executive Director of Historic Germantown since August 2018. He has many years of experience bringing the power of history to community organizations and institutions. Having most recently served as Executive Vice President of the nationally known Partners for Sacred Places, Forrest brings an extensive background in administration, fundraising, research and public policy to Historic Germantown.

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