Founding of Newtown Township
Newtown Township dates to 1681, when William Penn planned two inland “new towns” (the second one is Newtown, Bucks County) in which buyers who bought plots of farm land would be entitled to a “Townstead” plot in the new town planned for the intersection of Newtown Street Road and Goshen Road. The original settlers were Welsh Quakers, drawn to the new world by relatively cheap land, Penn’s promise of religious tolerance, and the prospects of new beginnings. Newtown remained a farming community from that time until after World War II, when it began growing into a suburban bedroom community outside of Philadelphia, 15 miles due east.
Newtown Square Historical Society
In response to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Unites States, several historically minded residents of Newtown decided to host a similar celebration, the Tricentennial, to celebrate Newtown’s 300th anniversary in 1981. A year of activities and a wonderful parade were the impetus to the creation of the Newtown Square Historical Society in 1984. The main purposes of the Society are to protect, preserve and promote the historic resources of the Township, and to tell its story to its residents, children and adults. The Society is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) community organization funded through membership dues, donations, fund-raising and grants. All contributions to the Society are tax deductible, and go to support the work and programs of the Society.
A number of our key activities include:
- Monthly Lecture Series and Programs (October through May)
- Annual Harvest Festival celebration (Fall)
- Annual Wassail Party (1st Saturday in December)
- 4th Grade School Tours (April)
- Annual Historic Newtown Square Day event (1st Saturday in June)
- Tours of Paper Mill House Museum and Square Tavern/John West House (July & August)
- Annual Scholarship awarded
In addition to these recurring programs and events, we maintain the historic Paper Mill House and Museum, at the corner of St. David’s and Paper Mill Roads, as a local history museum. We archive and preserve documents and photographs on the history of the township. We give private tours of the various historic sites in the Township (Newtown has five buildings on the National Register of Historic Places!). We have published various books and pamphlets on topics of local history. We have sought the adoption of an historic preservation ordinance to give legal protection to our historic resources in the Township – an effort that continues. We have a blog on topics of local history, a twitter feed, and a Facebook page. We have ideas to do much much more in all of the areas that we are involved with. Everything we do is done with volunteer labor. That is why we are always looking for people with an interest in history to get involved in any area for which they have skills, talents and the desire to get involved.
The mission of Newtown Square Historical Society is to search out, acquire, and preserve all buildings, documents, artifacts, and other memorabilia relevant to the history of Newtown Township (Delaware County). The Society shall play an active roll in the township to encourage membership in the Society, to educate townships residents, including school children, of the history of Newtown Township and to sponsor public events, programs and tours of historic buildings in the township. The Society will actively support other township, county and state societies whenever possible.
If you have questions about what we do, if you have an interest in being a part of what we do, and joining in an effort to give back to your community, then we would love to hear from you. Please e mail us at INFO@HISTORICNEWTOWNSQUARE.ORG and let us know of your interest, and we will be glad to welcome you and your energy and talents.