Though it may seem like an ordinary Pilates studio, Pilates in Germantown is the unlikely home to Germantown’s symbolic logo. Owner Jeffrey Smith bought the rights to the design in order to save its significance from extinction.
Designed by graphic designer Frank Nofer in 1975 to promote harmony within the Germantown community, every letter of the logo is representative of a specific characteristic of the neighborhood. “G” depicts the cobblestones on Germantown Avenue. “ER” represents the 23 Bus that runs through Germantown. “M” signifies the unified relationship between blacks and whites within the community. “AN” illustrates a tree for the green landscape. The “T” is a lamppost from the colonial era, while the “O” is a cannon symbolic of Germantown’s role in the Revolutionary War. The “W” represents the abundance of churches in the area, and the “N” symbolizes the Germantown Town Hall.
The Philadelphia-based candy company C.A. Asher Inc. originally owned the logo and used it for products in its former store on Germantown Avenue. Smith said that one side of the store held Asher’s chocolates and candies, while the other side featured products with the design. But in 1998, the company had to close its Germantown headquarters and move locations.
Smith, a resident of Germantown for 64 years, said he was concerned for the future of the logo when he heard that the store was closing and no one knew what was going to happen with the illustration.
“It’s meaningful to me,” he said. “So I bought the design from them and basically I had to do up the shirts myself.”
Though he was not making much of a profit, Smith sold T-shirts from his garage and at local fairs and events for years.
“It was more like a hobby,” he said. “Just to keep the logo alive.”
Then, two years ago, Smith opened Pilates in Germantown, located at 5904 Greene St. He said he was able to use the logo commercially for his studio name and also had an official space for the T-shirts and various other products.
“Now that I have a storefront, I can display stuff and I’m making a little more,” he said.
But while Smith is finally selling more products, his goal for the logo is not yet complete. He said he would like the logo to have an even greater social impact, and has offered to inexpensively license it to community groups within Germantown.
“That’s what it was originally for,” Smith said. “It was designed for community spirit, and I’d like to see that continue.”