Archival Adventures in Small Repositories

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears—in Manayunk??

Wednesday, 2/6/13

While surveying the archival collections of small repositories, Celia and I often find some entertaining items that document the more flavorful aspects of everyday life in neighborhoods and towns. Our visit to the Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Historical Society was no exception.

The Historical Society’s photograph collection, which dates from circa 1900 to 1980, includes several photos of Thomas Welte’s Jungle Bar, an interesting establishment in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood (the bar was located 4544 Ritchie Street) that most assuredly entertained local residents.

Circa 1930


The bar was filled with roughly 300 stuffed animals, including rhinos, tigers, buffalo, deer, kangaroos, and rabbits. According to a Manayunk resident, Welte, who seemed to have been quite the prankster, often rigged a small stuffed gorilla that he would drop on new and unsuspecting customers.

The Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Historical Society’s photograph collection compliments its other holdings that document local people, events, buildings, societies, and churches. The collection also includes maps and legal papers. The entirety of the Society's archival collection, located at the Roxborough branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, dates primarily from the mid-19th century to the present.

Project Director Jack McCarthy with Historical Society volunteer Sylvia Myers

Since the Society's founding in 1967, dedicated volunteers have aggregated, preserved, and made accessible to the public their archival holdings. They continue to engage in multiple outreach projects in an effort to share the history of these three unique Philadelphia neighborhoods with a wider audience.

See all finding aids for Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society

 

Reference: Nickels, Thomas. Manayunk. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2001.

Comments

The Jungle Thomas Welte 4544 Ritchie St.

Hello there! My name is Peggy Titlow and in a recent move, I came across an old postcard from The Jungle bar in Manayunk. This postcard is very significant to me because The Jungle was owned by my great grandfather, Thomas Welte. Sorry, it's not "Welke" as described in your article. My father, Thomas Titlow was born September 3, 1933. In 1929, Warner Titlow married Ann Welte, my Dad's parents & consequently my grandparents. I'm not sure when Ann was born but her father was Thomas Welte, the owner of The Jungle. My father, my grandmother and Thomas Welte are buried in Conshohocken, on the Welte plot. I can still recall to this day some stories that my dad used to tell about The Jungle. Not many people know this, but they also owned a real chimpanzee that eventually had to go to a zoo because when grew too old, became violent and used to throw his feces when upset! My younger brother, John Paul Titlow lives in Fishtown and is a freelance technology writer, webmaster and teaches a class at Temple! I would love to offer you any information I could provide and know my younger brother will also be contacting you! Thank you for your time & I hope to hear from you soon!!!

The Jungle and Thomas Welte

Hi Peggy-

Thank you for catching my mistake of misspelling your great grandfather's surname! (I must have misread the caption on the back of the photo I posted.) I've corrected the spelling in my post about the bar, a very interesting establishment indeed! :)

If you have more information that you'd like to share about your family and the bar, I would suggest contacting the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society, which is the institution that has some materials related to The Jungle.

And thanks for reading the blog!

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