Newtown Square, PA
Newtown Square has become a destination for “Empty-Nesters”, “First-Time Homebuyers”, and one of the most prominent Private Schools in the country. Do you want to know why???
Newtown Square History
Newtown Square was the name used for the townstead with the majority of early settlers being Welshmen. These Welsh “Friends” (Quakers) needed a road to facilitate their journey to meeting, the only established road at the time being Newtown Street Road, which ran north and south. As such, in 1687, an east-west road was laid out (Goshen Road) so the Friends could attend either Goshen or Haverford Meeting. By 1696, these friends had become numerous enough to hold their own meeting in Newtown and continued to meet in a private home until the completion of the Newtown Friends Meetinghouse in 1711. In the 18th century, Newtown was basically a farming community. Blacksmith and wheelwright shops emerged on the main arteries to service horse and buggy travelers. Taverns and inns were also opened to accommodate local patrons as well as drovers taking their livestock to the markets in Philadelphia.
During the 19th century a number of mills sprang up along Crum Creek (the western border) and Darby Creek (in the northeast corner of the Township). These included saw mills, paper mills, shingle mills, and a woolen factory. In the Darby Creek area a number of tenement houses were built as well as a general store to service the needs of the mill workers.
In 1860, the population of Newtown Township was 830; the population of Philadelphia was approximately half a million. At this time, the railroad, so called the “Iron horse,” was laying track out of Philadelphia in all directions with service to Chester, Media, West Chester, and Radnor … but not Newtown Square. As these towns, as well as stops along the way, grew and prospered, mills closed and businesses declined in Newtown Square. By 1890, the population had fallen to 648.
As an agricultural community, stone farmhouses graced the country landscape throughout the 19th century. Additions were made to the early simple dwellings as families grew and more living space was required. Prosperity, due to a growing market, also enabled property owners to make additions, not only to their own homes, but on the property as well as in the form of tenements and outbuildings.
In 1859, the Rose Tree Hunt Club was organized south of the township, followed by the Lima Hunt Club to the west (1885) and the Radnor Hunt Club at the intersection of Darby-Paoli and Goshen Roads in 1886. With these developments, many country estates were built in the rolling hills of Newtown Square for “…either country gentlemen of Old Quaker blood…or rich Philadelphians who loved hunting, owned good horses, and were not afraid to ride them.” Major transportation developments for the Township did not occur until the mid-1890s, when trolley service was opened to Newtown Square. Before this time, railroad lines had been proposed, but due to a series of reorganizations and competition between companies for right-of-ways as of 1892, no track had been laid. In 1894, however, mule-drawn service was initiated by the Philadelphia and Delaware County Railroad, with steam dummies used to help out on the hills. Electrification was completed the following year and the trolley was open from Newtown to Fernwood in 1895. By 1889, the reorganized Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company had completed the track to West Chester.
Aronimink Golf Club, which has hosted the 1962 PGA Championship, the 1977 U.S. Amateur, the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, 2003 Senior PGA Championship, and the 2010 and 2011 AT&T National is in Newtown Township.
At the turn of the 20th century, the automobile began to disperse the urban populations over the countryside. The trolleys, along with the new “horseless carriage,” transformed the country farmers into suburban commuters. Farms were sold and the land subdivided. Newtown Square boomed. Many city dwellers retained their country estates, however, these became hidden amidst gridiron developments. Although construction slackened during the depression, another boom was experienced after World War II.
Today Newtown Township has a land area of 10.11 square miles (26.2 km2), and a population of 12,216 individuals. Some farms and large estates remain, but for the most part, the township was developed into a suburban community with old stone homes and structures dotting the landscape to serve as reminders of days gone by.