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Leiper House Reopens for Tours

The 1785 Thomas Leiper House at 521 Avondale Rd., Wallingford, is now open again for guided tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. A guide will show visitors around the house, tell them about Mr. Leiper and his family, and about the other historic buildings on the property.  

Mr. Leiper was a wealthy tobacco merchant in Philadelphia and built this house as his summer home. He was born in Strath Haven, Scotland in 1745, and came to America in 1763.  He had mills and a stone quarry on his almost 800 acres along Crum Creek.  

The house stayed in the Leiper family until 1960.  It is now owned by Nether Providence Township and managed by The Friends of the Thomas Leiper House, Inc.  There is no charge for tours, but donations are always appreciated.

Photo of Thomas Leiper House in Wallingford, PA, USA

Artifacts Uncovered on Leiper House Property

Swarthmore resident Kevin Connell walked the grounds at Leiper House with his metal detector and discovered lots of interesting artifacts; old coins, keys, tools, and more.

The treasures will be displayed at the Leiper House on Saturday, December 3, between 1 and 4 PM. Mr. Connell will be on hand to share what he has learned about them.

Helen Kate Furness: Portraits of a Life

The Helen Kate Furness Free Library is celebrating its 120th anniversary with a talk about Helen Kate Furness herself, on Saturday, October 22 from 1:30-2:30 pm at the Library.

When Helen Kate Rogers married Horace Howard Furness in 1860, her father was a millionaire and one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia, the second-largest city in America. At her death in 1883 at the age of 46, she was described as “a lady of great loveliness of character, of a very sweet and gentle nature, and of rare charms of mind and person.” Come hear about Helen Kate Furness, and what we can learn of her from her writings and her portraits.

Harwood (Woody) Johnson, a resident of Wallingford, is on the boards of the Furness Library and the Nether Providence Historical Society, among others.  He has a deep interest in local history and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London. 

The Furness Free Library was founded in 1902.  It is located at 100 N. Providence Road, Wallingford, PA  19086 

Please register online at https://delcolibraries.libcal.com/event/9698884 or call the Library at (610) 566-9331.

Leiper House to Open this Weekend

The Leiper House will open for the season on May 7. On Saturday and Sunday, from 1 until 4, visitors may tour the house and explore a display that focuses on Mrs. Leiper, mother of ten – a suitable exhibit for Mother’s Day weekend.

In Memoriam: Merv Harris

It is with great sadness that the Nether Providence Historical Society announces the death of J. Mervyn Harris, our founder and first president. Merv died in April at age 87. Acknowledged as our township’s primary historian, he served on many historical boards county-wide.

Merv graduated from Nether Providence High School in 1952 where he was senior class president. He went on to Pennsylvania Military College, now Widener University, where he was again senior class president. After some years in the military, he came back to Nether Providence and served on its Board of Commissioners. He was later elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where he served for 4 years, from 1965-1969.

Merv was chairman of our township’s Tricentennial committee in 1987 and founded the Nether Providence Historical Society that year. He was also a member of the Delaware County Historical Society and served as president of that organization. And he was vice-chairman of the Delaware County Heritage Commission. In 2019, that group awarded Merv a Lifetime Achievement Award.  

Many township residents know Merv as author of the very readable book, A Brief History of Nether Providence. Published in 2010, the book is still available for sale at Furness Library, the Leiper House, and the township offices.

Merv’s love of local history and his vast knowledge of it, and his willingness to share it, have helped so many of us better understand where we live. His kindness touched many people.

Wilson Coal and Oil, circa 1926

Now known as Wilson Oil and Propane, the company has a long history on Rogers Lane in Nether Providence, evidenced by this early photo.

Leiper House Cancels 2020 Colonial Christmas Open House

The Friends of the Thomas Leiper House announced today that the organization’s annual holiday event will not take place in 2020.

“We’re sad to miss a year of what is always a lovely holiday tradition,” said Angela Hewett, Curator of The Leiper House, “but, it involves preparations by teams from five local garden clubs and lots of visitors in and out of small Colonial era-sized rooms, we knew there was no way to safely put on the event this year.”

The group is looking forward to planning their outdoor summer event and next year’s Colonial Christmas Open House.

Thomas Leiper House

The Path of America’s First Railway


Leiper built a temporary track in the yard of the Bull’s Head Tavern in Philadelphia to demonstrate the merits of his railway.

Did it go through your backyard?

Historians say the horse-drawn railway that Thomas Leiper laid out in 1809 from Crum Creek to Ridley Creek, through today’s Governor Sproul Estates, was the first commercial railway in the United States.

Pierre Lacombe, New Jersey Geologic Historian, has precisely mapped the railway. He’ll present a talk with maps and photos. You’re invited.

Sunday, October 20 at 2:00 PM at the Helen Kate Furness Library: 100 North Providence Road, Wallingford.

RSVP via Email.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public.


Delaware County Arts Week

Thomas Leiper House is participating in the Delaware County Arts Week.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29 the Leiper House will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Visitors can see original paintings of Leiper family members by famous artists. There are also old paintings of buildings that are no longer standing but were part of Leiper’s estate, “Avondale.”

Local artists Ursula Ippoliti and Dennis Goldsborough will display their paintings of notable Delaware County locations.  They will have prints and notecards of their paintings available to purchase.

LEIPER HOUSE | 521 Avondale Road, Wallingford

Party on the Porch

Leiper House
The Friends of the Thomas Leiper House invite you to their annual summertime Open House.

Enjoy summer refreshments. Visit the outbuildings. Take in the view of the park and Crum Creek.

Friday, June 28 from 7:00 until 9:00 pm
521 Avondale Road, Wallingford

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