As one of three original counties founded by William Penn in 1682, Chester County enjoys a rich and vitally important role in the development of this country. To encourage and support the identification, preservation and interpretation of our historic structures and landscapes, the Planning Commission offers technical assistance for preservation plans and historic resource surveys with financial assistance available through the Vision Partnership Program.
Town Tours & Village Walks is a series of free summer strolls through historic neighborhoods, hamlets, villages and sites. This summer, you can explore Chester County’s heritage on Thursday evenings, June 9 – August 25. Tours generally last 50 minutes and begin at 5:30 pm with the last tour leaving at 7:00 pm unless daylight allows for additional tours. Each tour is designed to inform, entertain and increase awareness of Chester County’s rich heritage and historic landscape. A number of our sites offer a good selection of restaurants and shops to enjoy after your tour.
The Land of Goshen 1777: From Turk's Head to County Seat
TOWN TOUR KICK-OFF CELEBRATION; CHESTER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Sponsor: West Chester HARB
In the summer of 1777 West Chester was only the Turk's Head Inn and a few other buildings and farmhouses at a crossroads on the western edge of Goshen Township. We will explore the Revolutionary War happenings around the Turk's Head Inn and will visit the northeast quadrant of present-day West Chester. Topics will include Lafayette, Marshall Square Park, Victorian architecture, the Chester County Hospital, private academies, industrialization, plus plants and nurseries.
Parking & Registration: 225 N. High Street. Arrive at 5:30 pm for pre-registration, all tours leave at 6:30 pm after the celebration. The closest public parking for the Chester County Historical Society is the Chestnut Street Garage at 14 East Chestnut Street. Many business and restaurants validate your garage ticket with purchase, so take it with you. There is some metered street parking as well.
Two Days Before Brandywine
Sponsor: Historic Kennett Square in Kennett Borough.
It was an overcast and humid dawn, September 11, 1777. Two days earlier, a Royal Army of 15,000 soldiers and camp followers had begun arriving in the tiny crossroads settlement of Kennett Village along the Great Nottingham Road to Philadelphia or streaming north from a ford along the Red Clay Creek from Delaware. Guides will escort visitors to points of interest and re-enactors will recreate the arrival, encampment and departure of the British and Hessian troops in and around Kennett Square to attack General Washington and the Continental Army assembled five miles away along the Brandywine Creek. Enjoy refreshments and meet Kevin Sheridan, author of "Timepiece Chronicles-Battle of Brandywine Creek."
Parking & Registration: Begins 5:30 pm. The 6 pm tour will be in Spanish. Free parking E. Linden Street Garage, 120 E. Linden Street, Kennett Square
Sponsors: Friends of Martins Tavern, West Bradford Historical Commission, Pocopson Historical Committee.
The morning of the Battle of Brandywine, between 5 and 6 am, the Royal Army formed two columns in Kennett Square. Led by three local loyalists, General Sir William Howe, General Cornwallis, and a column of 8,500 soldiers marched north to outflank General Washington's forces. Following a maze of local roads, they arrived on the Road to the Great Valley that forded the Brandywine Creek at Trimble's Ford. Explore the lost road, ford and Village of Trimbleville with guides and archaeologist Wade Catts whose research team discovered the lost road and ford.
Parking & Registration: Tours will begin at 5:30 pm. Parking 300 Broad Run Rd., West Chester. Please be advised of the uneven terrain and difficult field walking.
July 4th Special Observation — 25th Independence Day Ceremony at the Revolutionary War Soldiers' Cemetery
Sponsor: East Vincent Township
Celebrate freedom on our country's birthday while honoring the price paid by the unknown Revolutionary War soldiers who lie at rest in this cemetery. The program takes place on the route that the Continental Supply Train traveled toward Warwick and Reading Furnaces after the Battle of the Clouds. The log church that eventually served as a hospital for the Revolutionary soldiers, in East Vincent, was dedicated May 27, 1758. As a hospital, it lent care to the wounded from the Battle of Brandywine and to soldiers from Valley Forge.
Parking: 280 Hill Church Road, Spring City. After the celebration, visit the East Vincent Church at this address and view the location of the historic log hospital. Visitors are welcome to use the parking lot and bathrooms. Light refreshments
Witness to Battle: Two Armies Clash on the Fields of Birmingham
Sponsors: Birmingham & Thornbury Historical Commissions.
When General Washington discovered that he had been outflanked by the British, he repositioned troops on either side of Birmingham Road. There the two armies clashed in the largest, single-day battle of the Revolutionary War. Tour the 18th-century Thornbury Farm which sits in the heart of the battlefield. The 1709 farmhouse bears a stone patch where a cannon ball tore into the thick stone walls. Visit the 254-year-old Birmingham Meetinghouse which served as a hospital for wounded soldiers in 1777 and still has an active membership today. Guides will interpret the battle action contrasting war with the local Quaker Testimony of Peace.
Parking & Registration: Tours will begin at 5:30 pm. 1256 Thornbury Road, West Chester. Please note some uneven field walking.
Bus Tour: Advance with the Hessians!
Sponsors: Pennsbury Historical Commission, Chadds Ford Historical Society, Brandywine Battlefield Park, Brandywine Battlefield Task Force, & Old Kennett Meeting.
On the morning of September 11, 1777, the Royal Army advanced in a second column east along the Great Nottingham Road straight at Washington's defenses. Led by General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, they were tasked with engaging the Continental forces along the Brandywine until they heard General Howe's guns from the north indicating that the flanking maneuver had been successful. As they approached today's Longwood Gardens, they were attacked by soldiers commanded by American General William Maxwell. Despite the American delaying tactics, the enemy advanced to the river. Follow the route by bus and hear the description of the battle as well as the role historic resources along the route played. Brandywine Battlefield interpreters will be on each bus. Open House at Brandywine Battlefield Park beginning at 4:30 pm.
Parking: Tours begin at 3 pm. Chadds Ford Elementary School, 3 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford.
Timed reservations required: To register go to http://battlefieldtour2017.eventbrite.com. For questions call 610-459-3342.
West Whiteland's Role In The Revolutionary War
Sponsors: West Whiteland & West Goshen Historical Commissions.
On the morning of September 15, 1777, the Battle of the Clouds began with heavy skirmishing between the opposing forces in the county's Great Valley. These came to an abrupt halt when a torrential rainstorm made the roads nearly impassable and turned the surrounding agricultural land into sodden fields of mud. The American Army broke contact and retreated and the Royal Army encamped on the field of battle. In 1777, one of West Whiteland's most influential citizens was Richard Thomas (III). During the Revolutionary War, Richard Thomas (III) served seven years as colonel for the First Regiment of Chester County Militia, when he was locally known as "the Fighting Quaker." Visit Richard Thomas' properties; learn about local plundering by the British; the Battle of the Clouds, and what life was like during the Revolution. Presenters: Sean Moir, author of the Battle of the Clouds Technical Report and Revolutionary War re-enactor, John Kabli.
Parking & Registration: Tours begin at 5:30 pm. Whiteland Towne Center parking lot, 229 W. Lincoln Hwy, Exton. Registration near Gloss Salon.
Remains of the Day
Sponsor: Historic Yellow Springs.
The second engagement of the Philadelphia Campaign was the Battle of the Clouds on September 15th, so named because it was ended abruptly by a storm. Around 5 pm, the Continental army began its almost ten-mile retreat to Yellow Springs in the downpour where soldiers took what shelter they could find. You may wonder: "Where are the bodies buried?" The Revolutionary War Hospital at Yellow Springs and the Quaker meeting houses, churches, and private homes in our area were utilized as medical facilities during the Philadelphia Campaign. We know that many soldiers and community members suffered and died here in Chester County during the early days of the Revolutionary War, yet little is known about their burial places. Come and learn about the cemeteries where we honor those who bravely served. Also, learn about the exploration and attempts to locate these unknown Revolutionary soldiers' graves. You will be able to pick up a driving tour map so you can visit these final resting places we do know about and pay homage.
Parking & Registration: Tours will begin at 5:30 p.m. Historic Yellow Springs, 1685 Art School Road, Chester Springs. Follow directional signs after entering the village.
Powder Mills and More
Sponsors: East Pikeland Historical Commission and Pikeland Historical Society.
One of the first actions of the newly independent Continental Congress was the authorization to build a gun powder mill and gun factory to supply General Washington's army and the broader American cause. The site was on the banks of French Creek in East Pikeland Township. The millrace is still largely visible on the French Creek Trail, and recent archaeological projects have exposed foundations of the original buildings that stood for just over a year before being destroyed by Hessian troops. Tour guides will explain how the present remains relate to the original forty building manufacturing complex and barracks, and how the powder and arms were produced.
Parking & Registration: Tours begin at 5:30 pm. East Pikeland Township building, 1158 Rapps Dam Road, Phoenixville.
September 20, 1777: Remember Paoli
Sponsors: Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund, Paoli Memorial Association and Malvern Historical Commission.
Come to the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War, the Paoli Massacre, where the British troops staged a midnight raid on General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvania Line on September 20/21. Tales of the brutality of the British, who fought with bayonets and swords, gave rise to the nation's first battle cry "Remember Paoli." You will meet re-enactors who will portray Continental soldiers and their British counterparts and explain what life was like in the 18th century. Visit the gravesite of the 52 dead Continental soldiers from this battle and other monuments on this hallowed ground. Learn from the Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund about their status on making this scared ground a National Historic Landmark.
Parking & Registration: Tours begin at 5:30 pm. Monument and Wayne Avenues, Malvern.
Self-Guided Driving Tour: The Furnace Region during the Revolutionary War
Sponsors: East Nantmeal Historical Commission and Warwick County Park.
On September 17, 1777, following the stormy retreat from the Battle of the Clouds to Yellow Springs, the main Continental Army, desperately low on ammunition and practically defenseless against the enemy only a couple hours away, began the march from Yellow Springs to Warwick and Reading Furnaces. With roads still almost impassable, the supply train traveled on today's Route 23. The troops eventually reached Chester County's vital iron furnace region, where General Washington was able to resupply and refresh the troops. A self-guided map will allow visitors to explore this fascinating iron region.
Companion Lecture, 5:30 to 7:00 pm: "Chester County's Historic Furnace Region" in Warwick County Park's meeting room. Reservations Required. See 2017 Lectures listing for important further details.
Parking & Registration: Warwick County Park, Pavilion 3, 191 County Park Rd, Pottstown. Self-guided maps will be available at the pavilion 5:00 to 7:30 pm, along with refreshments.
Walking with Washington, Literally!
Sponsors: Valley Forge Park Alliance, Schuylkill Township Historical Commission and Valley Forge National Historical Park.
On December 19, 1777, following a devastating Philadelphia Campaign, George Washington led a weary Continental Army into Valley Forge. For the next six months, the hills along the banks of the Schuylkill River would serve as the Army's home. Washington's Headquarters, also known as the Isaac Potts House, has the distinction of being the structure General Washington used as his headquarters during the 1777-1778 Valley Forge Encampment. The building could be considered the "Pentagon" of its time, as it was the place where Washington and his highest-ranking officers worked and lived during the encampment. Start your tour of the entire Headquarters complex at the restored Train Station. Enjoy an opportunity to visit the park after hours and learn about the Valley Forge encampment from George Washington himself! Our national re-enactor is traveling from Mount Vernon for this special occasion!
Parking & Registration: Tours will begin at 5:30. All parking will be at Washington Memorial Chapel on Rt. 23 in Valley Forge National Historical Park. Free shuttles to Washington's Headquarters. Please be advised of hilly terrain. Handicapped access is limited.