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Curtis Hall and Arboretum’s Reopens with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to Celebrate the Partnership Between Jeffrey A. Miller Catering and Cheltenham Town
 
Posted on Wednesday May 08, 2019
 
Historic Curtis Hall & Arboretum is now open after almost seven months of renovations.
 

Curtis Hall and Arboretum’s Reopens with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to Celebrate the Partnership Between Jeffrey A. Miller Catering and Cheltenham Township 

Public Private Partnership Enables Preservation of Historic Landmark

On May 7, 2019, historic Curtis Hall and Arboretum re-opens after extensive renovations to the 116 year-old Curtis Hall and the surrounding grounds. The renovations are a result of a public-private partnership between Cheltenham Township and Jeffrey A. Miller Catering (JAM) created to restore and enhance the Hall and Arboretum as an event destination.


Curtis Ribbon CuttingPhoto by Lisa Schaffer Photography: From Left to Right: Daniel Norris, president, Board of Commissioners; commissioner Mitchell Zygmund-Felt (back row); Bryan Havir, township manager (front row with scissors); commissioner Barron Holland (back row), commissioner Irv Brockington, (back row) Jeffrery A. Miller, president JAM Caterers, Brad Pranksy, commissioner Drew Sharkey.









Through this partnership JAM invested more than $600,000 restoring the gardens and renovating the indoor space.  
JAM the region’s premier caterer and venue manager brings significant experience in upgrading, managing and promoting nearly 20 historic sites as event venues in the region. Some successes include Aldie Mansion in Doylestown, The Racquet Club of Philadelphia and Anthony Wayne House in Paoli. JAM has committed to hiring local firms and employees, where possible for the renovations and venue staffing.

The improvements which began in November of 2018, include refreshing the ballroom to highlight the ornate ceiling and crown work with fresh paint, a new Beaux Arts mural by New Jersey-based artist Hugh Luck that depicts the rolling wooded scenery of the Arboretum, and new hardwood flooring.  The courtyard was expanded and covered with a climate-controlled tent, which seats up to 200 guests. Renovations also include updated restrooms, a stylish bride suite with full vanity, and a lounge area with a bar.

JAM contracted Bluestone Exteriors, a Cheltenham-based landscape firm, to clean-up and refresh the grounds immediately surrounding Curtis Hall.  The landscaping highlights the unique terraces and gardens for picturesque photographs.  The grounds are an ideal setting for romantic photos and outdoor wedding ceremonies.

 Cheltenham Township also invested more than $750,000 with the installation of a 100-car pervious surface parking lot, upgraded the electrical system and connection to public sewer. The parking lot project is funded in part by a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Curtis Terrace

 Jeffrey A. Miller said, “We are thrilled to add Curtis Hall & Arboretum to JAM’s list of select, historical and cultural venues.  Our expert crafts men and women have worked hard to create this beautiful, ideal setting for weddings, anniversaries, other special events and the public.” The ten year, renewable contract between JAM and the Township involves investing in improvements of the building and grounds through a loan that will be paid back to JAM over the course of the contract period. In addition to ownership of all improvements the Township receives all rental revenue and a portion of the event revenue earned by JAM. The Township is guaranteed a minimum of $30,000 in event revenue annually. Funds above the guaranteed minimum will be used to pay down the loan.

“The partnership between Jeffrey A. Miller Catering and Cheltenham Township is an ideal collaboration that benefits all parties, and helps stabilize the facility from decay that could threaten its longevity, said Daniel B. Norris, president, Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners.
  This agreement gave Curtis Hall a much needed facelift and enhanced the grounds, so residents can continue to beautiful trees and rolling hills of Curtis Arboretum.”

 Hugh Luck on The Curtis Hall mural, “Jeffrey Miller asked that we create a misty enchanted forest that would serve as a backdrop for lovely brides who could envision themselves as princesses in their own enchanted forest. Here the painting should enhance and not distract from the focal point which is the bride.”

 Curtis gardenCurtis Hall and Arboretum is a National Register Listed property for its architectural, historical and cultural significance. The elegant Curtis Hall was once the music hall and ballroom of the lavish Curtis estate, known as Lyndon, which was built by  Cyrus H.K. Curtis. in in the late 1890s.  Curtis was a noted philanthropist and publisher of magazines and newspapers, including the Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post. The Arboretum was gifted to the Township by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, Curtis’ daughter and founder of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1937. Prior to gifting the 47 acre-park  Arboretum to the Township, Bok demolished the main house and hired the Olmstead Brothers, the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect for New York City’s Central Park to create the rolling landscape of the Arboretum. Upon Bok’s death in 1970, a technicality reversed the ownership of the Arboretum back to the heirs. After lengthy negotiations Cheltenham Township was able to purchase the Arboretum in 1976.   

 

 
 

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