Cret Illustrated: Revisiting a Philadelphia Icon in Sketches
November 17, 2017-January 13, 2018

20+ architectural illustrations of Paul P. Cret’s Philadelphia, by artist Ben Leech, on view in the Hamilton Mansion at The Woodlands
Ink, pencil and watercolor on paper

Opening Reception, November 17th, 5:30-8:00PM

Detail of the University Avenue Bridge by artist Ben Leech

Detail of the University Avenue Bridge by artist Ben Leech

About the artist: Ben Leech studied religion (Reed College, B.A., 1999) and historic preservation (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, M.S., 2006) before moving to Pennsylvania in 2007. From 2010 to 2015, he was advocacy director for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. He has taught architectural history, archival research, and building documentation at the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin & Marshall College, Temple University, and Philadelphia University. In 2017, he founded Archivolt Press and published 36 Views of Philadelphia, a postcard book of his sketches. He maintains an unproven theory that old buildings vibrate at frequencies invisible to the naked eye, which can only be captured by the act of drawing. This is his first solo exhibition.

Open Viewing Hours for Cret Illustrated:

November 18, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
November 25, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
December 2, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
December 9, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
December 16, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
December 23, 2017: CLOSED
December 30, 2017: Noon - 4:00pm
January 6, 2018: Noon - 4:00pm
January 13, 2018: Noon - 4:00pm

If you are interested in visiting the exhibit during business hours please contact The Woodlands at

You Draw me Cret Cret: Sketchcrawl led by Ben Leech
Saturday, November 11th, Noon-3:30PM (rain date November 18th)


Follow in the footsteps of master architect Paul Philippe Cret on a West Philadelphia "sketchcrawl" led by illustrator and historic preservationist Ben Leech. BYO sketchbook and drawing supplies for an afternoon of casual touring and sketching of Cret-related landmarks; all levels welcome, some instruction provided. 12:00-3:30pm, $10, $5 for members of The Woodlands. Meet at the Woodland Cemetery Gates, located across from the trolly portal at 4000 Woodland Avenue. Walking distance 3 miles (loop).

Tickets and Registration.

Commemorating the Great War:  Paul Cret’s Cemeteries and Memorials in Europe
Thursday, November 30th, 6:00-7:30PM in The Hamilton Mansion at The Woodlands

A lecture with architectural historians Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie from the Heritage Documentation Program (HDP) of the National Park Service. Their work on Paul Cret and the ABMC is part of a multi-year documentation effort by ABMC and HDP. 

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In the aftermath of World War I, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was established to enhance the overseas military cemeteries for the fallen and erect memorials to the combat accomplishments of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).  In 1925 ABMC retained Paul Philippe Cret as their consulting architect.  He subsequently guided every aspect of their ambitious construction program, including designing the permanent headstones used for overseas American burials. 

ABMC and Cret oversaw major improvements to the eight World War I cemeteries established by the U.S. War Department in France, England, and Belgium as well as construction of eleven unique monuments.  In addition to personally designing Flanders Field Cemetery in Belgium and Chateau-Thierry and Bellicourt Monuments in France, Cret supervised an impressive roster of his architectural contemporaries, including John Russell Pope, Ralph Adams Cram, and George Howe.  Through Cret’s influence, the commemorative architecture and landscapes of the ABMC display a sophisticated Beaux Arts approach characteristic of some of the best interwar civic architecture.  This illustrated lecture will examine Cret’s crucial role in overseas military cemetery design after World War I as well as ABMC’s monument building program.

$10, $5 for members of The Woodlands. 
Tickets and Registration.

This program is possible thanks to additional support from the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

The Drawings of Paul Cret: From the Rue Bonaparte to Woodland Terrace
January 11th, 6:00-7:30PM at the University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives

Cret working in Paris, and Cret working in Philadelphia. 

Cret working in Paris, and Cret working in Philadelphia. 

Join us for a table-top tour of selected drawings from the Paul Cret Collection at Penn’s Architectural Archives. This conversational event, led by David B. Brownlee and William Whitaker, will explore Cret’s work, his drawings, and his impact as a teacher and architect.

David Brownlee is a historian of modern architecture whose interests embrace a wide range of subjects in Europe and America, from the late eighteenth century to the present. Professor Brownlee has won numerous fellowships, and his work has earned three major publication prizes from the Society of Architectural Historians. He is a recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Brownlee is working with the Athenaeum of Philadelphia

William Whitaker is the curator and collections manager of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Trained as an architect and architectural historian at the University of New Mexico and the University of Pennsylvania, Whitaker primarily works on documenting and interpreting Penn’s design collections, including holdings related to the of life and work of architect Louis I. Kahn and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, as well as that of the husband and wife design team of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.

$10, $5 for members of The Woodlands, free for students. 
Tickets and Registration.