2023 Town Tours and Village Walks
Our Agricultural Heritage
Town Tours & Village Walks is a series of free summer strolls through historic neighborhoods, hamlets, villages, and sites to learn about significant founders of these places or institutions and explore what they are today! This year's program, "Our Agricultural Heritage," will kick off on Thursday, June 8, at the United Methodist Church in West Chester from 5:00-7:30 p.m. Join us for a presentation followed by walking tours. Additional tours will take place on Thursday evenings through August.
① June 8 — West Chester Kickoff Celebration
From Colonial Farms to Neighborhoods and Agri-Businesses
West Chester United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St., West Chester
The annual kickoff celebration starts at the West Chester United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St. (corner of High & Barnard). As West Chester developed around the Turk's Head Inn the landscape was dotted with Quaker farms. Remnants of those farms and the agri-businesses that followed can still be seen today. The celebration will be followed by a tour that will focus on the borough's southeast quadrant with the McClellan's "Whigs Welcome Farm" and the adjoining Sharples Homestead. Walk today's neighborhoods and learn about people, architecture, and the many agri-businesses that developed here. They included ESCO, United Dairy, Yearsley's, and the Fruit Growers, to name only a few. If we are lucky, we may even see a "mechanical cow."
Sponsor: West Chester HARB & Historical Commission
Parking & Registration: Parking is available at the Bicentennial Garage, 29 S. High St., one block north of the church, and there is limited metered parking in the lot next to the church. There is also street parking on S. High St and on side streets, both with and without meters. Please check posted parking signs in neighborhoods. The doors open at 5:00 to register for a tour. The kickoff starts at 5:30 and is immediately followed by the tour.
② June 15 — Westtown School, Westtown Township
Westtown School South Entrance, 999 Westtown Rd., West Chester
Join us for a tour of Westtown School as we discuss the agricultural history of Westtown Township's longest operating school. Come learn about the original farm structures and see how the ones that remain have been repurposed. As farming operations at the school date back to the late 1700s, we will explore the long tradition of student involvement in farming over the years, one which continues to this day!
Sponsor: Westtown Township Historical Commission
Parking & Registration: Enter at the South Entrance, 999 Westtown Rd. onto Oak Ln. Park in the grass lot on your right immediately after the pedestrian crossing signs. The tour will begin in front of the Farmhouse. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00. View Parking Map
③ June 22 — Thornbury Farm, Thornbury Township
1256 Thornbury Rd., West Chester
Historic Thornbury Farm has been in production since 1709. This farm has a rich history and provides opportunities for community education. Travel back and see what past and current efforts make this family farm still viable today. The farm was central in the Revolutionary War Battle of Brandywine and the family strives to continue to protect these resources. Tour features:
- Thornbury Farm Market and CSA
- 1709 main farmhouse and c. 1740 barn
- Horse Angels equine rescue
- Historic pipe organ
- General Stephen's Stand historical marker beside Thornbury Rd.
- Blacksmithing demonstration
- Native plants display
- Refreshments and light music
Sponsor: Thornbury Township Historic Preservation Commission
Parking & Registration: 1256 Thornbury Rd., West Chester. Park across from the market in the field. Meet at the market. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
④ June 29 — Paoli Battlefield, Malvern Borough
Monument Ave., west of Wayne Ave., Malvern
Come out and walk the farmers' fields of the battlefield and learn about the 9th bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War. See the second oldest Revolutionary War monument in the U.S. which stands on a mass grave of 52 Continental troops. This field was used to grow crops before, during, and after the revolution. In fact, it was still being used as a crop field in 1998 before it was purchased.
Sponsor: Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund
Parking & Registration: The battlefield entrance is on Monument Ave., west of Wayne Ave. Park along the entrance road that loops around the monument grounds, highlighted in yellow on the map below. Tours begin northeast of the monument, as shown by the blue "X" on the map. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
⑤ July 13 — Kennett Square's Agricultural Past: It's Not All About Mushrooms!
120 E. Linden St., exit garage to Genesis Walkway
Guides will lead visitors through the borough to learn about Kennett's long and evolved agricultural history. Beginning on its main commercial street, the sites of three historic buildings will be presented. Then the tour will meander through the residential district where our agricultural leaders lived or worked. Guides will point out two buildings that contributed to increased opportunities for expanding markets and production. The tour will end at the Kennett Heritage Center with light refreshments.
Sponsor: Kennett Heritage Center
Parking & Registration: Free parking in municipal garage at 120 E. Linden St., Kennett Square. Exit garage from main stairway onto Genesis Walkway. Registration in walkway. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
⑥ July 20 — Spackman-Davis Farm, Caln Township
3401 E. Kings Highway (Rt. 340), Downingtown
Spackman-Davis Farm is a living example of our agricultural history. The corn will be high; the story of how farms, mills, and taverns developed around Beaver Creek will be on display. Eleven acres surrounding the farmhouse will be open for exploration, with the 1804 bank barn and three story springhouse partially open for tours. Reenactments of early 19th-century farm life, and a map guide of other nearby historic resources (including Edges Milling District) ending at Beaver Creek Tavern.
Spackman-Davis Farm was one of the earliest working farms in Chester County and helped spawn its growth as a leader in agricultural production. Nearly the entirety of Caln was once farmland that produced field crops, dairy, and livestock including the largest chicken farm in Pennsylvania, and the first "electric" farm. Edges Mill in Caln was one of the few American mills to use local crops for flour. There was a fairly even split between sustenance farming and products grown for market, and since Caln is the midway point between Philadelphia and Lancaster, the Kings Highway and Lincoln Highway became crucial routes for transporting goods both west and east. The Wildcat Inn (late 18th-century), Gallagherville Inn (circa 1801), and Black Horse Inn (1813) provided for travelers. Most important, two of our late 18th-century/early 19th century farms, Spackman-Davis Farm and Lloyd Farm (formerly Zook's Farm/Valleybrook Farm) continue to produce crops. And recently opened Jefferis Family Farm Market is owned by brothers whose families worked the Ingleside/Zinn, Spackman, Lloyd and other local farms. The agricultural history of Chester County is rich here, and agriculture is still alive in Caln.
Sponsor: Caln Township Historical Commission
Parking & Registration: 3401 E. Kings Highway (Rt. 340), Downingtown. Parking is available onsite. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
⑦ July 27 — Grove United Methodist Church, West Whiteland Township
490 W. Boot Rd., West Chester
Learn about the rich history of the congregation of Grove Church — once referred to as "the country church" — now in its 250th year of worship at Grove and Boot Roads! Tracing its roots to George Hoffman, the farmer who hosted the first congregational meeting in his home (with Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury preaching), Grove has had three church buildings, a school, two parsonage/office buildings and the cemetery on its campus through the years.
Sponsor: Grove United Methodist Church
Parking & Registration: 490 W. Boot Rd., West Chester. Parking is available onsite. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
⑧ August 3 — Historic Farms, Upper Uwchlan Township
Tours start at Upland Farm Park, 301 Pottstown Pk., Chester Springs
Join the Upper Uwchlan Township Historical Commission where three historic farms will be spotlighted to learn about Upper Uwchlan's agricultural heritage. The 45-minute tour will begin with Upland Farm, now a Township Park with walking trails, proceed by bus to Fellowship Farm, an active farm, and then continue by bus to Whelen Farm, a remnant of the original 200-acre Whelen Farm that included Fellowship Farm. All three farms include at least one intact historic building dating from the mid-1700s (although the Upland Farm farmhouse received quite a Victorian makeover in the 1860s!). The Fellowship Farm farmhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and both Fellowship Farm and Whelen Farm are part of the Highlands National Historic District. Fellowship Farm features an early formal stone farmhouse in the Georgian style and the Whelen Farm features an early log farmhouse, with stone additions and remnants of an outside bake oven, as well as an early stone English Lake District barn.
Sponsor: Upper Uwchlan Township Historical Commission
** Registration Required in Advance ** Tours are scheduled to begin 5:30, 5:45, 6:15, 6:30, 7:00. Register through Eventbrite with password: 2023upperuwchlanhistorytour
Parking & Check-In: Upland Farm Park, 301 Pottstown Pk., Chester Springs
⑨ August 10 — Yeager's Farm & Market, East Pikeland Township
1015 Pike Springs Rd. (Rt. 113), Phoenixville
Yeager's Farm on Route 113 shows how some family farms have adapted to changes over the past few years as crops have changed from staples such as corn and fruit to different seasonal items like Christmas trees and pumpkins. At least seven generations of the family have farmed several parcels in the southwestern corner of the township, and several generations continue the tradition. Although the farm draws most of its revenue from products other than food, there is still a cattle herd, fruit orchards, and cornfields. Visitors on this tour will board farm wagons to see the new and traditional farming at this East Pikeland landmark.
Sponsor: East Pikeland Township Historical Commission
Parking & Registration: 1015 Pike Springs Rd. (Rt.113), Phoenixville. Parking is available onsite. The first tour begins at 5:30 and the last tour begins at 7:00.
⑩ August 17 — Historic Yellow Springs, West Pikeland Township
Historic Yellow Springs: Barns Repurposed
Until the mid-20th century, the most important building on nearly every Chester County property was the barn. It was the engine driving the agrarian household. As the county became more suburban and farms declined, barns were repurposed. The village of Yellow Springs is home to two such barns from the 18th and 19th centuries. Built to store grains and animals, they were adapted to become theaters, fine arts, and movie production studios. Author and barn historian Gregory D. Huber will present a history of Chester County barns and how they evolved. Tours of the barns will follow.
Sponsor: Historic Yellow Springs & West Pikeland Township
Parking & Registration: 1701 Art School Rd., Chester Springs. Follow signs for parking in The Washington/Chester Springs Library lot after entering the village. Doors open at 5:00. Lecture at 6:00. Barn tours immediately follow.
2022 Town Tours and Village Walks Recap
Chester County's Town Tours & Village Walks program wrapped up another great series of events in its 28th season highlighting the "Founding Mothers and Fathers" of Chester County's past! The tours welcomed 1,220 attendees with many familiar faces returning this year as well as lots of new faces. Learn more
2021 Virtual Town Tours and Village Walks Recordings
The 2021 Town Tours and Village Walks Summer Series took place virtually and in person. View the recordings from 2021.
2020 Virtual Town Tours and Village Walks Recordings
The 2020 Town Tours and Village Walks Virtual Summer Series took place virtually through Zoom, a free video conferencing software for use with computers, tablets and cell phones. View the recordings from 2020.