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A Walk Through History: The Historic West Chester Tour

Posted June 14, 2017 by Catherine Quillman in Heritage

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Free tours of historic West Chester!

Attention preservation-minded local residents interested in West Chester's history: 15 guides will be giving FREE tours of the northeast quadrant of the borough (that's the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding Marshall Square Park) on Thursday, June 15. The vintage postcard shown here shows the park's fountain with the original buildings of the Chester County Hospital in the background.  



The occasion is the 23rd Annual "Town Tours & Village Walks,"  a county-sponsored “heritage” tour that highlights a different part of Chester County on Thursday evenings through August. Registration for the June 15th tour or tonight's kick-off celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Chester County Historical Society.

Full-disclosure: I've been a volunteer guide for several years now and know that each tour tends to fill up quickly, so by “registration” I mean give yourself time to review the different tours outlined on the “sign-up” clipboards. Each walking tour is about 50 minutes long and they all begin at the historical society around 6:30 p.m.

Each guide has prepared a custom-made walking tour - we have been sharing thoughts and notes for weeks now – and will focus on a different theme ranging from historic architecture and horticulture to 19th century industry and the early railroad.  However, since the main theme of the annual tour is the “American Revolution in the Brandywine Valley,” a few of the guides plan to focus on the skirmishes that took place in downtown West Chester after the Battle of the Brandywine on Sept. 11th, 1777.  

Others will talk about General Lafayette's visit to West Chester in 1824 (more than 10,000 people showed up for his speech) and to take people to a marker along a side street where Lafayette reviewed military troops that escorted him to the battlefield (and found the place where he was wounded in 1777.)   
I have had a chance to meet all the guides and they're all passionate about the history of West Chester. And yes, there will be refreshments at the end of tours at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N. High St.

Be sure to check out the other tours that will be held at different villages and towns throughout the summer. Most of the tours include  lectures by well-known Revolutionary War historians and special events highlighting what is billed as “A Fortnight in Chester County,  the 240th Anniversary of the Campaign of 1777.”

To give you an idea of the diversity,  here are some of the tour titles: “Two days before the Brandywine” (June 22nd)  “Witness to Battle: Two Armies Clash on the Fields of Birmingham” (July 6th); “Bus Tour: Advance of the Hessians” (July 13) and “The Furnace Region During the Revolutionary War” (August 17th). 

One last word about West Chester tours. Take a look at this video narrated by Malcolm Johnstone, who directs the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID).

Johnstone often gives walking tours of the borough but in this video he focuses on two historic landmarks here  including what is called the “the story of Wyeth Laboratories where the first mass-production of penicillin took place in 1943, saving countless lives on the battlefield during World War II.”


A Walk Through History: The Historic West Chester Tour

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