Sherry……… Is it Really a Lake?

Posted in Uncategorized by seanpmalloy on October 2, 2011

BACKGROUND: During the Summer of 2011 I was provided the opportunity to move into my cousin’s apartment near Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Since I was about to once again become a poor college student, it seemed like a good idea. The convenient location near the intersection of Butler Pike and Ridge Pike, and close proximity to Interstates 76 and 276 also made it seem like an excellent living arrangement. However; once my cousin told me over the phone that the apartment surrounded a lake, that sealed the deal. How could I resist? I thought, “Cool, a lake.” The whole time I was thinking about having my own personal fishing spot, running around the lake trail, ice skating in winter, and of course the 2:30 a.m. moonlight skinny dipping. Several weeks after deciding to move in with my cousin, I loaded my belongings into my dump truck (because it is big and holds a lot of personal belongings) and moved to Whitemarsh Township. Two hours later I arrived at my new place, The Sherry Lake Apartments. Presumably named after the lake in the middle, Sherry Lake. I decided to check out the lake after moving all my belongings in the middle of a torrential downpour. As I walked to the lake to find my future fishing spot, and a large rock to jump off during my skinny dipping adventures, my dreams came crashing down. The apartment is nice, the location is convenient, my cousin is pretty cool, but the twelve foot chain link fence surrounding my future play area really killed the mood. The bright red NO TRESPASSING signs were like a knife through the heart. I spent the next several minutes standing near the fence contemplating the simple cruelties in life while trying to admire the view on the inside. I felt like a prisoner because I wasn’t allowed to access something so normal that was kinda cool and that I really wanted to explore. As I admired the view of the lake my observations started to put together the pieces of the Great Fenced Lake Puzzle. Sherry is a FAKE lake. Ok, technically, according to the Wikipedia definition of LAKE ( ) it really is a lake, a manmade lake. While standing against the Great Fence of Sherry I observed sheer, jagged rock walls, a significant drop off to the lake’s water level, and piles of old discarded quarried stone. Sherry Lake was a former quarry! I immediately felt deceived, but I still couldn’t get over the wonderful aesthetic quality of this abandoned quarry. The amount of, and age of the vegetation makes it appear to be a natural feature in the landscape. Ironically, the fence is the one thing that destroys the picturesque landscape and calls it’s history into question, but also potentially isolated the vegetation from the outside world and allowed it to flourish undisturbed. I could use the following quote by Lao Tzo to describe this location, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” While Sherry Lake is a former stone quarry, it has been abandoned and isolated for such a long period of time that nature has reclaimed it to the point where it is difficult to distinguish from a natural landscape. The numerous tree species and size of the specimens is impressive. I will get an updated age on the beautiful Sycamore Trees after I take a core sample, during the cover of darkness, for my Native Woody Plant class. Also, there is a beautiful single white swan which calls the lake home. HISTORY UNCOVERED:

My interest in the history of the Sherry Quarry, or Lake, or I like Sherry Quarry Lake, led me to conduct some research to paint a better picture of what was going on, mainly with the fence that I really hate. Sherry Quarry Lake is approximately 4.6 acres in size and is mainly owned by the parent company of Sherry Lake Apartments, with a small eastern portion bordering Cedar Grove Road owned by Aqua America Water Company. On an 1894 USGS Topographic Map, Sherry Lake shows up as a depression void of water. The next closest map I could find was a 1952 USGS Topographic Map which clearly depicts a labeled Sherry Lake with water. So, what happened during that 58 year period? According to an unverified source (an old guy) “Sherry Lake is an old rock quarry that was flooded when they (miners) struck an underground stream! There are no fish there. I researched the Underground Stream Flooding a Quarry Concept, and it can happen. So, not only is it a quarry and a lake, it also potentially has a source of fresh water. There are two more interesting facts about the Sherry. According to the Whitemarsh Township Greenway Plan of August 2007, Sherry Lake is one of Montgomery County’s largest standing bodies of water. Also, there is a historically significant shocker about Sherry Lake located in the Whitemarsh Township Open Space Plan. The quarry that created Sherry Lake was a source of marble used in the building of Independence Hall. Could it be possible? Sherry Lake is a national historic landmark construction material source landmark! It should get one of those blue historic signs!


When I look at Sherry Lake I see a wide range of missed opportunities and current inappropriate uses. The lake today is used as a storm water retention basin for most of the Sherry Lake Apartment Complex. It also has an inlet from the local municipal storm water management system, which I believe also doubles as an outlet during periods of heavy rainfall.   There were a number of missed opportunities when the Sherry Lake Apartment complex was constructed in 1968. The developers of the apartment complex had the opportunity to fully and successfully integrate the lake into the site plan for the development instead of treating it like an abandoned quarry. The look, feel, and marketability of the apartment complex would be dramatically different if Sherry Lake was integrated into the master plan for the development. Instead, the developer attempted to capitalize on the lake by simply utilizing the name of the lake while naming the apartment complex. The Sherry Lake website and other rental websites tout the lake as the beautiful centerpiece of the apartment complex. On these websites, photographs of the lake are take at angles which conveniently leave out the fence. I smell deceptive marketing practices at work. Sherry Lake could have, and still can be, developed to support a center of recreation and a usable space within the apartment complex. Simply removing the fence would establish the lake as an aesthetically pleasing view. The addition of walking trails connected to the main walkways in the complex would open the lake to human interaction. Safety hazards and risk can be mitigated by proper signage and warnings. Storm water drainage can be directed away from the lake with the establishment of a new retention basin South of the lake. If the lake is actually spring fed, a portion of the lake could be roped off and utilized as a larger deep water swimming area for the apartment complex. ( Check out the former quarry, now 80 ft. deep municipal swimming pool, in Tenino, WA ) I understand that making accessibility changes to Sherry Lake, and developing it for recreation, would require a large amount of money. However, fully incorporating the Lake into the Sherry Lake Apartment’s environment would increase the overall value, attractiveness, and marketability of the property. Rents (other than mine because I recommended the idea) could be increased over time to recoup the development costs, and these increased will be justified because future potential renters would see the greater overall value of becoming a resident of the Sherry Lake Apartments.

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