Kennett Square Walking Tour

Site No. 1. The Brosius House, 119 E. Linden Street. Edwin Brosius built a pottery at the corner of Broad and Linden Streets around 1844. The Brosius home serves as a fine example of the Federal style, having been updated later in the century. The more modern Italianate details of the structure are seen in the ornate bracketed cornice and the iron porch with the balcony above. An added wooden porch protects the center doorway with its sidelights and transom on the south elevation.

Site No. 2. District Court and Old Ben Butler, Southwest corner of E. Linden and N. Broad Streets. The official opening of the former municipal building was April 17, 1939. The materials were taken almost entirely from the old high school building. The building was completed by WPA labor. In 1861 Bayard Taylor presented the home guard of Kennett Square with a cannon cast at the Pennock Foundry at State & Willow Streets. It became known as Old Ben Butler. The cannon was fired to hail Union victories in the Civil War. The District Court moved to this location in 2004.

Site No. 3. The Walls House, 219 E. Linden Street. At the turn of the 20th century the house served as a parsonage for a church which was next door. Later it was the home of Dr. Orville R. Walls, a noted black physician. He graduated from the Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee in 1936 and was a general practitioner in Kennett Square from 1937 to 1964.

Site No. 4. Bethel A.M.E. Church, 301 E. Linden Street. Early records show that a number of free blacks had owned land in the town of Kennett Square from as early as the 1850s. The African Methodist Episcopalian Church was officially founded in 1894. Meetings were held in Taylor Hall at the southwest corner of Broad and Cypress Streets in the 1890s, until a church could be built. A lot was purchased on East Linden Street and a building was erected and dedicated in July, 1895. The structure underwent extensive renovations in 1973, although the fine example of a federal steeple is still evident at the south end.

Site No. 5. New Garden Church, 309 E. Linden Street. On September 4, 1824, the Union African Methodist Episcopalian Church purchased one acre of land from Joseph Broman for $50 at Buck Toe Hill in New Garden Township. The church was established from the Union Church of Africans in Wilmington. Alog building constructed on the site was later destroyed by fire, and was replaced by a stone building. In 1904, property was purchased on East Linden Street and a new building erected with the stone from the original church. The congregation worshipped at an existing building in the intervening year until the new church was dedicated on February 18, 1911.

Site No. 6. The Vincent Barnard House, 315 E. Linden Street. Vincent Barnard (1825-1871) was a local naturalist who came to Kennett Square to work for Samuel Pennock, and whose daughter Joanna, he married. At the time of his death he had a two acre botanical garden containing numerous rare and indigenous specimens of trees and flowers.

Site No. 7. The Kennett Square Inn, 201 E. State Street. Built between 1820 and 1839, this structure is a combination of a two-bay Penn plan on the west side and a four-bay federal plan on the east side.

Site No. 8. The Former Quaker Cemetery, Apple Alley and Marshall Street. The Bayard Taylor Memorial Library and the Post Office occupy the site of the original State Street Friends Meeting House. The cemetery was located behind the meeting house. All of the graves were moved to the Kennett Meeting cemetery on U. S. Route 1, just east of Longwood Gardens. In 1827, the State Street Meeting elected to follow the noted ideas of Elias Hicks, whose followers were known as Hicksites. The more conservative members of the Meeting, (Orthodox Quakers), founded the Marshall Street Meeting on the southeast corner of Marshall and E. Cypress Streets. During the Civil War years, the Hicksites were active in the Underground Railroad. The more moderate Orthodox Quakers did not risk involvement.

Site No. 9. The Hicks-Schmaltz House, now Borough Hall, 120 S. Marshall Street. Built in 1899 in the Queen Anne style by Harry K. Hicks, from plans from architect, George Barber.  This home is characterized by its eclectic mix of contrasting materials and patterns: the use of stucco, clapboard, decorative shingles, and half-timbering. Verandas and turrets were also common architectural elements of this style. Noteworthy details include a slate-hipped roof, conical roof porch, and Chinese or chinoise lattice work on the porch railing and the classical columns supporting the porch roof. Also of note is the gallery above the front porch and the applique work on the gabled detailing. Hermann Schmaltz, a native of Germany, came to America in 1884. In 1903, he settled in Kennett Square, where he owned and operated a hardware, plumbing and heating business, and later moved into the Hicks house.

Site No. 10. The Sharpless Lewis House, 211 Marshall Street. Most of the original features of this Stick style house are intact, although the stucco on the second floor was originally wood. Automation of wood working allowed for mass production of decorative elements.

Site No. 11. The Eli & Lewis Thompson House, 221 Marshall Street. This circa 1882 Gothic house has wooden posts and scrolled brackets trimming the first floor porch. A barn which is approximately the same age as the house occupies the property as well. Eli Thompson was the father-in-law of William Swayne who built his greenhouses across the street (where Barber’s Florist is now located). Swayne was not only a successful florist, but along with Harry Hicks, built the first mushroom house in Kennett Square in 1885.

Site No. 12. The Roberts House, 222 Marshall Street. This home is Queen Anne/Gothic stick style built about 1880. Agambrel-roofed cross gable has a decorative pendant and a window with a Gothic arch. Aone-story shed roofed porch has chamfered posts and open brackets.

Site No. 13. The Chandler House, 219 S. Broad Street. This house was built by Samuel D. Chandler, a local pharmacist, in the Second Empire style. Dormers and dormer windows appear in a great variety of styles. Note the three distinct slate patterns – diamond, brick, and fishscale. The detailed and carved cornices are similar to the closely related Italianate style. The appliques on the dormers and between the cornices are noteworthy for their presence. The porch was probably added later. The chamfered posts with scroll brackets and arched form are identical to details on other porches in town.

Site No. 14. The Presbyterian Parsonage (Manse),213 S. Broad Street. Built in about 1890 in the Stick style, it is an excellent example of its type and appears to retain nearly all its original exterior features including roof and porch trim. Note the drop-finial at the apex and bargeboards with unique bulls-eye detail at the porch eaves, the Gothic window beneath the apex detail, and the type of bonding used between brick courses. Across the street is the Westminster House (formerly the Lutheran Church, and previous to that the Episcopal Church). Note the variety of patterns and character of the slate roof, modified buttresses, and gothic windows.

Site No. 15. The McMullen-Walton House, 216 S. Broad Street was built in 1869 by Joseph McMullen, a Burgess of Kennett Square. The decorative trusses in the gables are a common architectural detail in town. This one is in the form of a rising sun. The sun design was a popular symbol for a rising country from 1860 to 1890.

Site No. 16. The Gregg House, 307 S. Broad Street. This house dates to the early 1900s when A.W. Gregg, a physician, lived at this address. This is a two-and-a-halfstory brick house in the Queen Anne style, notable for its large and irregular shape. The large, exceptionally detailed gable-roofed dormer on the facade contains a recessed porch trimmed with cornices, dental brackets, and lattice work. Bulls-eyes and panelling trim the gable ends. Note the upper balcony and lamp black used in the mortar. The gable also uses the sun motif.

Site No. 17. The Isaac Pyle House, 312 S. Broad Street. It was built in 1870 and has beautiful filigree ironwork and a “circus tent” tin roof. The striped circus- tent-style metal porch roof was a popular decorative effect.

Site No. 18. Kennett Square Academy, 313 S. Broad Street. This large building is three stories high above a raised basement, and has a flat roof with projecting cornice. Stucco now covers the exterior brick walls. Built in 1870 as Swithin C. Shortlidge’s Kennett Square Academy for Young Men and Boys and Kennett Seminary for Young Ladies and Girls, this is a historically important building within the district. AHarvard graduate, Shortlidge operated the school here for 12 years and then Rev. A. S. Vaughn of New Jersey took over, giving it the name Hofwyl Academy.

Site No. 19. The Woodward House, 332 S. Broad Street. The house was built in 1858 by Thomas Pyle for the Woodward family. When it was built, it looked similar to the colonial houses across the street at 323 and 325 S. Broad Street. Over time, it grew with the addition of rooms and embellishments. In about 1888, the exterior got a drastic facelift under the guidance of a Dutch architect who had recently come to town. At this time, the tower, circular porch, and Victorian gingerbread were added. It is three-and-a-half stories high and has a mixture of brick, wood, stucco, and half-timbering for wall construction and features windows in a variety of sizes, shapes, and pane configurations. The main roofs are gables, and a bell-shaped roof tops a three-story tower at the corner. There is a gambrel roof on the rear wing, and a hip roof on a one-story wing at the side. A porch across the facade extends to a round pavilion at each corner of the facade; Tuscan columns rise from a stone balustrade to support the porch roof. A recessed porch on the second-floor side, and a gallery above the main entrance on the facade are just a few of the unusual architectural features.

Site No. 20. The Gawthrop House, 402 S. Broad Street. This house was built in 1879 by James Gawthrop, Jr.  He establish a fertilizer company, located near the railroad line at the bottom of Broad Street.  Charles George Gawthrop, James Gawthrop, Jr’s son inherited the house in 1888.  Charles founded the C.G. Gawthrop Company, a coal, lumber and feed (grain and hay) business in 1888.  He lived in the house until his death in 1940.  Particularly interesting is the six-sided turret with the original cap. The main roof is gabled and a hip-roofed dormer projects from the tower. Note the Gothic window in the gable peak on the facade, and the cross gable filled with lattice work above the entrance. Heavy turned posts connected by a wooden balustrade, support the roof of the wrap-around porch.

Site No. 21. The Catherine Reed House, 401 S. Union Street. Once the home of Catherine Reed, a seamstress, this one half of a brick duplex appears to be in fine traditional mid-19th century condition. Each side is two bays wide making the entire building four bays wide. A gable roof has its ridge line parallel to the street and has two interior end chimneys. The entrances in the central bays are topped by transoms. Awooden balustrade connects the heavy turned posts with solid brackets which support the flat roof and its wraparound porch.

Site No. 22. The Lamborn House, 341 S. Union Street. This stucco house was originally brick and had an iron gate around the property. This house was built by Emma Taylor Lamborn, a sister of Bayard Taylor. It was here that their mother died in 1890. Note the ocular window. The original brick sidewalks still remain.

Site No. 23. The Kirk House, 316 S. Union Street. This is a brick house with wrap-around porch. Note the bonding mid-way between the second story and the barn in the rear of the property.

Site No. 24. The Philips-Grason House, 306 S. Union Street. This is a large Victorian house built in the Queen Anne style. Of special note are the beautiful tulipshaped porch railing, stain glass windows, and threestory tower with conical slate roof. There is a large carriage house in the rear alley.

Site No. 25. The Lydia Walton House, 231 S. Union Street. This house was built about 1860 by John and Lydia Walton. Support of women’s leadership positions was evident with the 1869 election of Lydia Walton to the post of school director. Since 1908, as stipulated in her will, $40 annually has been distributed to buy shoes and mittens for needy children in the borough. The dimensions and two-room-deep design of this traditional Penn Plan house were originally made by William Penn to take in the breezes of country air and provide good ventilation. A double row of dental moulding trims the cornice. Next door, at 233 S. Union Street, is the former site of The Walker House, home of James Walker, who played a role in the Underground Railroad in antebellum Kennett Square.

Site No. 26. The Dr. Sumner Stebbins House, 221 S. Union Street. Dr. Stebbins was a noted doctor, temperance orator, and abolitionist. His wife, Mary Ann Peirce, was the daughter of Joshua Peirce, who, along with his twin brother, began the planting of the arboretum known as Peirce’s Park, which later became part of Longwood Gardens. Another noted resident of this house was William Marshall Swayne, an artist and sculptor. In 1878, he completed a plaster bust of local author Bayard Taylor, which is now prominently displayed in the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. Another of Swayne’s outstanding works was a bust of Abraham Lincoln. This Victorian home was built in 1845. The house is three bays wide. The porches and back addition were added in 1855. The gabled roof with its ridge line is parallel to the street. Most of the windows are six-over-one, double-hung wooden sash. The main entrance is in the side bay and has a fanlight. A wooden balustrade connects heavy chamfered posts with brackets that support the roof of a one-story porch across the facade. A matching one-bay wide porch shelters a second entrance at the side.

Site No. 27. The Samuel Pennock House, 222 S. Union Street. Cypress Lawn was built in 1864 by Samuel Pennock, founder of the American Road Machine Company and inventor of the snow plow and various road grading machines. The house has a Queen Anne porch which was added later.

Site No. 28. The Samuel Martin House, 209-211 S. Union Street. Samuel Martin is reputed to have lived in the house to the right (Dr. Stebbins house) with his wife Rachel Mercer while this one was being built. He started his career in Kennett as a school teacher and went on to build many of its houses and a school.

Site No. 29. The Pyle House, 208 S. Union Street. This Queen Anne style house dates from about 1907, and has one of the most outstanding porches in town. Also of note is the octagonal tower and gable-roofed dormers with multi-pane windows.

Site No. 30. The Entrikin House, 204 S. Union Street. This house dates from about 1907 and is in the Queen Anne style. Note the hexagonal dormer with peaked roof which faces the street.

Site No. 31. The intersection of State and Union Streets. Here, on September 11, 1777, 12,000 British and 5,000 Hessian troops gathered prior to marching east for what later became known as the Battle of the Brandywine. On the northwest corner was the site of the oldest building in Kennett Square, the Unicorn Tavern, and on the southeast corner was the site of Bayard Taylor’s birthplace. On the northeast corner was the original site of Evan P. Green’s mercantile store, and later the Chalfant Block. The structure was razed in 1996, and the present building constructed as the national headquarters of Genesis HealthCare, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In the tower of the office building are three faces of the original workings of the Kennett Town Clock.

Site No. 32. The Miller-Hannum House, 200 N. Union Street. This Federal style house dates from 1841 and was built by John Lamborn. It has a dormer with a segmentally-arched roof and brick dentals trim the cornice, similar to the 3 houses to the north which were also built in that time period.

Site No. 33. The Chalfant Mansion, 220 N. Union Street. A fine example of Queen Anne architecture attributed to the firm of Frank Furness, the ornate north aspect date stone is inscribed WSC 1884. Note the elaborate corbeled brickwork on the three chimneys restored in 1987.

Site No. 34. The M. Ellen Taylor House, 233 N. Union Street. This Queen Anne/Stick style house, built in 1876 on land deeded to her by her father Joshua, has a gable roof with large cross gable on the facade tops. Fish scale wood shingles cover a two-story bay window at the side and the cross gable. Ellen was Bayard Taylor’s first cousin.

Site No. 35. The Gilmore-Marshall-Pennock House, 234 N. Union Street. Robinhurst was built in 1859 in the Federal style, and was once the home of Charles Pennock, local banker and well-known ornithologist. He was an eccentric who suffered amnesia, disappeared, and resurfaced in Florida under an assumed name. He eventually returned to Kennett. Behind the house is a large wooden carriage house with lacy barge boards and a steep gable roof.

Site No 36. The Joshua Taylor House, 315 N. Union Street. Fairthorn is the oldest house in the historic district, and was the home of Bayard Taylor’s grandparents. The house served as the setting for his novel The Story of Kennett, written in 1866.