About George Stanley Woodward
George Woodward was an important figure in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania progressive politics for 50 years. Son of a well-known Wilkes-Barre lawyer, and grandson of Judge George Washington Woodward, George graduated from Yale University in 1887, and then earned an MD from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.
Soon after his 1894 marriage to Gertrude Houston, youngest child of wealthy Chestnut Hill developer and patron Henry Howard Houston, George Woodward gave up the practice of medicine and devoted himself to progressive causes. In 1897, he was appointed to the Philadelphia Board of Health, where in the aftermath of 1899's typhoid epidemic, he and like-minded board members, as well as other outraged city leaders, pushed the city of Philadelphia to build filtration plants in order to provide safe, clean water for the city. Woodward ran successfully for City Council and was elected to the executive board of the Committee of Seventy, a group of progressive city leaders determined to reform Philadelphia's corrupt government. As a member of the newly formed City party, he worked to elect reformist candidates in 1905.
In 1908 he organized and underwrote a new Bureau of Municipal Research to investigate the causes of city problems and to push for reform.
An enthusiastic member of the housing-reform group the Octavia Hill Association, Woodward built a model tenement in the city's Italian section called "Casa Ravello." The complex included a rooftop playground, a summer school, and a medical clinic.
For the truly destitute he built a seven-story shelter he called "Inasmuch Mission," where a clean bed could be had for 25 cents.
In 1904 he organized the Child Labor Association of Pennsylvania to work for reform of the state's labor laws, and he served as president of the relief organization the Children's Aid Society.
From 1910 on, he increasingly focused on developing Chestnut Hill along progressive lines as a parklike model suburb. He and his wife eventually built 180 homes in Wissahickon Heights, which they renamed St. Martin's, in honor of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, built by Gertrude's father.
Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, they built a large home for their own family, Krisheim, on some 40 acres in Chestnut Hill that H.H. Houston had given them as a wedding gift.
In 1918, he ran successfully for the Pennsylvania State Senate, and served seven consecutive terms. After leaving office in 1947, he was made chairman of a commission to write a new charter for the city of Philadelphia.
George and Getrude Houston Woodward had five children: Henry Howard, George Jr., Stanley, Charles Henry, and Getrude, known as "Quita."
Dr George Stanley Woodward's Timeline
March 12, 1899