Nether Providence History

Leiper House Tours Resume April 27 – Featuring New Acquisitions

Thomas Leiper Kane

Thomas Leiper Kane – Abolitionist, Attorney, Civil War Hero

The Leiper House will open for the season on Saturday, April 27th and will be open for tours each Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 until 4:00.

The gentlemen dressed in military garb above is Thomas Leiper Kane, son of Jane Duval Kane, who in turn is the daughter of Thomas Leiper. Kane gained notoriety via a brevet promotion to major general for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. He was also an influential abolitionist and attorney. Kane was also known as a “friend of the Mormons” for his involvement in the migration of the Latter Day Saints to the West in the 1850′s. Thomas Leiper Kane was born in 1822 in Philadelphia, and passed away in 1883.

Be sure to visit and see two recent acquisitions to the collection:

Mr. William Archard donated a large painting of the Leiper barn that once stood in the location of the parking lot. The picture was painted by Valerie Morrison in 1972, about two months before the barn was razed for construction of the Blue Route. It hangs in the middle bedroom, where the barn would have been visible from the windows.

In the fall, Mr. Thomas Africa of Warren, Pennsylvania, donated a china punch bowl that likely belonged to Thomas and Elizabeth Leiper. The bowl is decorated with the monogram of the Leiper’s son, William. William inherited it and other items from his parents and, having never married, left them to his nephews and nieces. A large painting of Avondale Village was left to Thomas Leiper Kane. Mr. Africa’s mother, a Kane descendant, left the painting to the Leiper House several years ago, as a bequest of her will. When the punch bowl was discovered, Mr. Africa kindly donated it as well. It now sits on the dining room table.

Another new display, courtesy of the efforts of Eagle Scout Dan Lordan, features the Leiper House’s antique tool collection.

Stop in for a tour!

Courtesy of the Nether Providence Historical Society.


Wallingford PA Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Wallingford PA History Spotlight – Hinkson’s Corners

Hinkson's Corners - Wallingford PA - Wallingford Real Estate

Hinkson's Corners - Wallingford, PA

We all have driven through the intersection at Providence Road and Brookhaven Road innumerable times. You have probably seen the sign labeled as Hinkson’s Corners at the northeast corner of the intersection as you have sopped at the red light. Do you know any of the history of this corner?

The land where James Hinkson, a local wheelwright, lived was once part of the Vernon land grant. Three Vernon brothers, Thomas, Robert, and Randall received land grants from William Penn that encompassed 900 acres in present day Rose Valley and Nether Providence Township. The brothers came to the area in 1682 and began farming the land.

The Vernon family had split allegiances when the American Revolution commenced. It is thought that the land where Hinkson’s Corners stands was confiscated from a Vernon family member who sided with the British.

Hinkson built two shops on the property, one a log structure, and the other a wood frame shop. Hinkson used one of the shops for his business, and the other was occupied by blacksmith Richard Nuzrum, who lived on a farm in Upper Providence. The blacksmith shop, located at 3 Brookhaven Road, was used as the Township Commissioner’s meeting room from the late 1930′s until 1953.

The oldest section of the house standing on the corner is believed to have been built in 1737, and the original frame dwelling was replaced by a stone structure, that still stands, in 1799. The property was also used as a general store for over 60 years, and in the 1880′s became the location of a summer resort.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086


Remembering Dick Clark In Wallingford

Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - Dick Clark Tribute

Tribute To Dick Clark At Dogwood Lane

An impromptu tribute to Dick Clark stands at the corner of Dogwood Lane and Plush Mill Road near his former Wallingford home. Clark past away last week at the age of 82, and is best known as the host of the television show American Bandstand.

Dick Clark resided at 308 Dogwood Lane in Wallingford during the early 1960′s while acting as host for the popular TV show. He moved to California in 1964 when the show was moved to the West Coast.

In a 1959 newspaper article of the time the purchase of the home on Dogwood Lane is reported:

Clark made a substantial down payment on a home under construction scheduled for completion in July or August. The 2 story, multi-level homes are in the $36,000 class, and have 5 bedrooms.

In January 1961 the Delaware County Times  reported that Clark made a surprise visit to the Junior Assembly dance for 7th and 8th graders at the Summit School, which is located across the street from the Clark house. He watched the latest dance craze, The Pony, and stayed to sign autographs.

Wallingford remembers America’s oldest teenager, and former Wallingford resident, Dick Clark.

Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - Dogwood Lane - Tribute To Dick Clark

Dogwood Lane

Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086


Christmas Open House Scenes At The Thomas Leiper House

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Christmas Open House - December 18, 2011

Take a tour of the Thomas Leiper House decorated for the Colonial Christmas Open House on Decemeber 18, 2011. Local Garden clubs decorated the rooms in a Holiday theme. Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Bedroom Decorations

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Decorated Staircase - Colonial Christmas Open House - December 18, 2011

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Master Bedroom Decorated For The Colonial Christmas Open House

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Colonial Christmas Open House - Bedroom Decorations

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Christmas Open House Entertainment

Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086


Leiper House – Colonial Christmas Open House – Sunday December 18, 2011

Wallingford Real Estate - Holiday Open House _ Thomas Leiper Home - December 18, 2011

The Friends Of  The Thomas Leiper House will be hosting a Colonial Christmas Open House at the Leiper House located at 521 Avondale Road in Wallingford on Sunday December 18, 2011, from 1 PM until 5 PM.  The house will be decorated for the Holidays, and there will also be a celebration of Leiper’s birthday. Thomas Leiper was born on December 15, 1745 in Strathaven, Scotland.

Wallingford Real Estate - Holoday Wreath Decorating The Door Of The Thomas Leiper House - Wallingford, PA
Holiday Wreath Adorns The Front Door Of The Leiper House

Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Wallingford History Spotlight – Thomas Leiper

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper - Local Merchant And PatriotThomas Leiper was born in Strathaven, Scotland in 1745, and emigrated to Maryland in 1763. His brother in Virginia introduced him to the tobacco industry upon his arrival, and two years later he opened a tobacco shop in Philadelphia and became the leading tobacco merchant by the time of the Revolution.

Leiper was one of the founders of the Philadelphia City troop, a light horse cavalry, and served with them as lieutenant during the Revolution at the battles of Princeton, Trenton, Brandywine, and Germantown.

Leiper bought his first piece of property in Delaware County in 1776, a mill at a waterfall in Crum Creek along Yale Avenue at the Swarthmore-Nether Providence border. He used the mill as a tobacco mill, and called the area “Strathaven” after his hometown in Scotland.

In 1778,Thomas Leiper married Elizabeth Gray whose father was Speaker of the House in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Leiperwas 32 and Elizabeth 16 when they married. They had 13 children; 10 lived to adulthood.

Over the next 20 years, Leiper acquired a total of 728 acres following Crum Creek to the Delaware River. For a time a section from Fairview Road to Chester Pike, now Crum Lynne, was known as Leiperville. The property included a number of mills, but Leiper’s biggest money-making venture was a stone quarry which eventually extended from the north bank of Crum Creek up to and across what is now Route 320.

Granite from the Leiper quarry was sought after as a building material. Much of the Leiper granite became curbstones in Philadelphia and door steps for city row homes. It was also used for buildings on the Swarthmore College campus, homes in Swarthmore, and  Leiper Church.

When Thomas Jefferson became George Washington’s Secretary of State he commissioned Leiper to build a home for him in the city, and through this venture they became very close friends, and began a long period of correspondence that lasted until Leiper’s death. Leiper’s political legacy includes being one of the leaders in the formation of what became the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania.

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper House - Avondale

Avondale - Thomas Leiper's Nether Providence Home

In 1785 Leiper built a country home in Delaware County for his family. He chose a site on the southwest bank of Crum Creek and built an impressive Federal-style mansion he called “Avondale”. His descendants lived in the house until 1959 and claimed that Thomas Jefferson and eight other Presidents were entertained at Avondale either before, during, or after their terms in office.

As demand for the granite from Leiper’s quarry grew, transportation of the material became an issue. In wet weather the wagons hauling the granite became bogged down on the dirt roads and since Crum Creek was not navigable, barge transportation was not an option.

In 1790 Leiper requested permission to build a canal to Ridley Creek but was denied by the General Assembly because of the objections of the other mill owners.

Almost twenty years later he had the idea of moving the stone by railroad. As an experiment, he had 21 yards of demonstration track laid in the coach yard of the Bulls Head Tavern in Philadelphia.

Encouraged by the success of his experiment, Leiper began to build his railroad. It consisted of a pair of iron rails laid on wooden ties. An ox, hitched to a cart filled with stone walked between the rails slowly pulling the cart from the quarry to the navigable tidewater of Ridley Creek. There it was loaded onto barges for the ten mile trip to Philadelphia. In 1809 Leiper’s vision became the first permanent railway in America.

The quarry was operated by the Leiper family until 1946, when it was sold and became a landfill. The Swiss Farms store and the medical building on Route 320 in Swarthmore stand today at the Leiper Quarry site.

Thomas Leiper died on July 6, 1825, and his  home on Market Street was torn down in the 19th century. The site was later occupied by Gimbels Department Store. Leiper is remembered as a Patriot, prominent businessman, innovator, and an influential resident of Nether Providence during our country’s infancy.

Credit: Leiper Presbyterian Church  

Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Pieces Of The Past Forming a Tribute

Wallingford Real Estate - Arch From Nether Providence High School

Nether Providence HIgh School Archway

Key remnants of the former Nether Providence High School, which was demolished in 2010 as part of the $54 million dollar Middle School renovation, are forming the centerpiece of a tribute garden to former school.

The large front archway, several sandstone medallions, and education themed gargoyles make up the memorial which stands just to the left of the entrance to the Strath Haven Middle SchoolWallingford Real Estate - Nether Providence High School Date Stone, close to the spot they once occupied.

The design, cost, and location of the memorial has been a topic of much school board debate. The tribute was initially planning to incorporate the key pieces into a memorial wall, but the structural requirements of that proposal exceeded the budget for the project.

Several important features of the former school were salvaged, and stored while plans for the tribute were debated. The Nether Providence High School closed in 1984 when the Nether Providence and Swarthmore school districts merged forming Wallingford Swarthmore School District. The former high school then became Strath Haven Middle School.

Wallingford Real Estate - Nether Providence High School Tribute Garden

On October 21, 2011, at 1:45 PM a public dedication ceremony at the Strath Haven Middle School on Providence Road is planned for the tribute garden. 

Leiper House Summer Open House Friday June 17 From 7 To 9

Wallingford Real Estate - Thomas Leiper HouseThe Friends of the Thomas Leiper House will hold a Summer Open House on Friday, June 17th from 7 until 9 pm. Come visit Leiper’s home, built in 1785 and named “Avondale”, and stroll around the house and grounds. See the fabulous 8-holer outhouse lit from underneath. Enjoy refreshments of lemonade and craft beer on the big side porch. There will be a special exhibit in the dining room of posters created by three Strath Haven High School seniors of excerpts from letters written by Leiper’s grandchildren as they fought in and observed the Civil War. There is no charge, but donations for upkeep are always appreciated.

Wallingford History – A Tale Of Two Brothers

The Vernon family of Nether Providence were prominent during the Revolution. Nathaniel Vernon had two sons, Nathaniel Jr. and Frederick, and resided at  a home located at the end of present day Hickory Lane. At the outbreak of the war he was sheriff of Chester County and was an outspoken advocate of the cause of the crown, and subsequently became so offensive to the colonial authorities that he was declared a traitor, as was his son, Nathaniel Jr. The father fled to the protection of the British army, while Nathaniel, joined the Brithsh army serving with the Tory Light Horse. Frederick, sided with the Continentals, joined the army, and rose to the rank of Major.

During the British occupation of Philadelphia, Frederick obtained permission to visit his wife and family at his home in Nether Providence located at 204 West Brookhaven Road. His brother, Nathaniel learned of his visit and, and marched a platoon of  Tory Light Horse from Philadelphia to Nether Providence, intent on capturing Major Vernon. The troops surrounded the house. Nathaniel entered the home and was about to climb the stairs, when Frederick, who was aroused by the noise, halted him from the head of the stairs, where he stood armed with a pistol. Nathaniel made it known that he had come to take him prisoner and that he must surrender, since troops were surrounding the house. Nathaniel tried to convince his brother of the inevitable British victory, and offered him a commission in the British army. He had come for his welfare he assured his brother. Frederick replied that he would never surrender, that the British could not take him, and that if his brother or any other person attempted to ascend the stairs he would shoot; only as a dead man could they capture him. Nathaniel finding his brother so determined, withdrew his troops, and Frederick remained true to the Patriot cause. At the conclusion of the war he was one of the founders of the Society of the Cincinnati, and died in Nether Providence at an advanced age. The fate of his loyalist brother Nathinel is unknown.

Contributor: Merv Harris

Chairman – Nether Providence Historical Society

History Spotlight – Wallingford Aviation

Media Flying Field - Circa 1937

Do you know there was once a aviation field on the 50 acres of land bounded by Beatty and Turner Road and  Baltimore Pike and Plush Mill Road. It was known as the Media Flying Field opening in 1922, and was the site of one of nation’s earliest air shows as well as the location of Delaware County’s first airmail flight. The airmail flight experiment was conducted on May 19, 1938 with much fanfare. Twelve parcels of mail were loaded into an Autogyro (a  forerunner of the modern helicopter) and flown to it’s destination at the 30th Street Post Office in Philadelphia. Unfortunately the trip was less than an unqualified success, since the Autogyro was unable to land on the Post Office roof. The tract of land that once was Nether Providence’s foray into early aviation was developed into what is today known as the neighborhood of Wallingford Summit in 1953.

Photo courtesy of the Nether Providence Historical Society.