Chester and Delaware County Pennsylvania Historic Small Towns and Districts
Chester County William Penn established Chester County in 1682 as one of the first three counties in Pennsylvania; West Chester is the county seat. Other historic towns in Chester County include Kennett Square, Oxford and Phoenixville. Each has its own unique agricultural, revolutionary and industrial histories. These “Main Streets of the Brandywine Valley” are treasures of a time gone by with lovely tree-lined streets filled with restaurants, shops, galleries, markets, festivals and more.
The Brandywine Valley Wind your way along the banks of the Brandywine River through horse country and rich farmland. The rolling hills and verdant pastures along the Brandywine Valley Byway form a lovely and dramatic backdrop including Longwood Gardens, a stunning horticultural display set on the more than 1,000 aces of the former du Pont estate and the Brandywine River Museum, housed in a 19th century gristmill. Its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its outstanding collection of American illustration, still-life, and landscape paintings make it a mecca for art lovers from all over the world.
West Chester Nestled in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, West Chester is a picturesque and historic community that offers small-town charm with a cosmopolitan flair. Their downtown boasts 83 shops and 59 restaurants. The Chester County Historical Society is a history museum which tells the American story from a local perspective. West Chester’s Main Streets offer a host of diverse shops and galleries. Specialty shops featuring imported olive oils, fine handmade chocolates, cigars and skate and surf equipment. The West Chester railroad, one of the oldest in America, offers a 90-minute train excursion through the beautiful Chester Creek Valley.
Kennett Square The town was originally called Kennet Square, with the name “Kennet”, England, and “Square” coming from the original William Penn one square mile land grant. General Sir William Howe marched through Kennett to the Battle of Brandywine during the American Revolution. Kennett is famous for being the mushroom capital of the world; over 60 percent of the nation’s mushroom crop is from this region. This small town main street is filled with an eco-boutique, a rare book store, quilts, antiques and a spa. A walk down Kennett’s State Street is also a culinary adventure.
Oxford On the way stop to view the historic covered bridges that surround the countryside. Then, stroll down Oxford’s Main Street where Amish buggy’s share the road, a vibrant art’s alliance hosts exhibits, shows and events, farmers markets offer local foods and wares, and charming coffee and tea shops.
Phoenixville Like many American towns and cities, Phoenixville owes its growth to its waterways. The Phoenix Company Foundry, built in 1882, is home to the Schuylkill River Heritage Center, a historic gateway to northern Chester County that provides information about places of interest to visit throughout the region. Originally called Manavon, Phoenixville was settled in 1732. In its industrial heyday early in the twentieth century, it was an important manufacturing center and it was the site of great iron and steel mills, boiler works, silk mill, underwear and hosiery factories, a match factory, and Etruscan majolica pottery. The Iron Hill Brewery is a great gathering spot on Bridge Street, Phoenixville’s main drag; it specializes in handcrafted beer and creative cuisine. Charming shops line the main street.