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Friends of Thomas

FrontEntryBuilt by Philadelphia merchant Thomas Leiper (1745 – 1825) the mansion sits above Crum Creek on his summer estate, Strath Haven, named for Leiper’s birth place in Strathaven, Scotland.

The house was scheduled for demolition to make way for the Mid-County Expressway (I-476). Through the joint efforts of interested citizens and Nether Providence Township, the expressway was re-routed and the historic house was saved. The house is furnished with circa 1800 antiques, including some Leiper family pieces. Its four remaining outbuildings are restored. Displays reflect Mr. Leiper’s prominence in manufacture, transportation, and politics in the development of the area, the state, and the nation.

The 1785 house is a fine example of Federal Period architecture and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the Thomas Leiper House, a separate organization from Nether Providence Historical Society, together with Nether Providence Township, maintain the house and its outbuildings.

The Friends recently sent out their annual appeal for donations. The Township covers the bulk of the maintenance, but it is up to the Friends to fund the maintenance of the collection, to maintain a staff of volunteers to open the house for tours and other programs, and to chip in on larger projects.

Attached is the Friends membership form. Will you help with the preservation of this community treasure? Download the membership form and send in your contribution.

Where to Go for What You Want to Know

ICFA Archive Stacks

Researching your family history, your house, your hometown…? Bob Plowman, Delaware County archivist, will teach us all about the records and other treasures available to you at the Delaware County Archives, the Courthouse, Delaware County Historical Society, and our own Nether Providence Archives.

Sunday, February 23rd at 2:00 pm at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library

The program is free and open to the public.

Perfect for Holiday Gift-Giving

Hot off the presses – a new reprint of A Brief History of Nether Providence, first published in 2010.

Pick up a copy (or two) at Furness Library, the Leiper House, or the Township Building.

At only $10, it makes a great stocking-stuffer or a thoughtful and unique hostess gift.

Diamond Named for Nether’s Favorite Slugger

New Sign at Mickey Vernon Field

New Sign at Mickey Vernon Field

New signs, created and installed by the Township, identify the baseball field at the corner of Westminster Drive and Bullens Lane, dedicated last year to baseball great and former Nether Providence resident Mickey Vernon.

James Barton Vernon was born in Marcus Hook. He attended Villanova University then entered the minors. In 1939, he joined the Washington Senator, playing with them through 1955 except for two years of service in the Navy and a season and a half with the Cleveland Indians. He played for five teams, finishing his playing career with the 1960 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates. He later was a manager and coach. Vernon has the rare distinction of having played ball over 4 separate decades.

Vernon was named to seven All Star teams and is widely recognized as one of the best all-around first basemen of his time. Some argue that if he had played on better teams, he would be in the Hall of Fame. He was on the ballot in 2008, but was not voted in. A lefty, Vernon had 2,495 hits, 172 home runs and a career batting average of .286. He holds American League records for  double plays (2,044) and games played by a first baseman (2,237).

Mickey and Lib Vernon raised their daughter Gay in Nether Providence where they lived from 1951 through 2004. Mickey died in 2008 at the age of 90.

In 2003, Marcus Hook residents erected a life-size bronze statue of Vernon.

President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Washington Senators Manager,  Mickey Vernon,  during opening day of the 1963 season at D.C. Stadium.

President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Washington Senators Manager, Mickey Vernon, during opening day of the 1963 season at D.C. Stadium.

1955 Red Man Card

1955 Red Man Card

The Battle of Gettysburg

GettysburgAs the 150th anniversary of the Battle approaches, the Society will present a lively lecture and discussion on the battle that ended Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North.

Local Civil War buff and Gettysburg College alum, George Albany counts among his ancestors a soldier who was on the battlefield. Fought July 1st through 3rd, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg had the largest number of casualties in the Civil War and is considered to be  the war’s turning point.

Join us Sunday, June 2nd at 2:00 pm at The Helen Kate Furness Free Library at 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford. The program is free and open to the public. Bring a friend!

New Acquisitions in the Leiper House Collection

Thomas Leiper Kane (1822 – 1883) was an American attorney, abolitionist, and military officer who served as a Union Army colonel and general of volunteers in the Civil War. He received a brevet promotion to major general for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg. Kane was born in Philadelphia, to John Kintzing Kane, a U.S. district judge, and Jane Duval Leiper. His brother was naval officer, physician, and explorer Elisha Kent Kane.

Thomas Leiper Kane (1822 – 1883) was an American attorney, abolitionist, and military officer who served as a Union Army colonel and general of volunteers in the Civil War. He received a brevet promotion to major general for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg. Kane was born in Philadelphia, to John Kintzing Kane, a U.S. district judge, and Jane Duval Leiper. His brother was naval officer, physician, and explorer Elisha Kent Kane.

The Leiper House will open for the season on Saturday, April 27th and will be open for tours each Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 until 4:00. Be sure to visit and see two recent acquisitions to the collection.

Mr. William Archard donated a large painting of the Leiper barn that once stood in the location of the parking lot. The picture was painted by Valerie Morrison in 1972, about two months before the barn was razed for construction of the Blue Route. It hangs in the middle bedroom, where the barn would have been visible from the windows.

In the fall, Mr. Thomas Africa of Warren, Pennsylvania, donated a china punch bowl that likely belonged to Thomas and Elizabeth Leiper. The bowl is decorated with the monogram of the Leiper’s son, William. William inherited it and other items from his parents and, having never married, left them to his nephews and nieces. A large painting of Avondale Village was left to Thomas Leiper Kane. Mr. Africa’s mother, a Kane descendant, left the painting to the Leiper House several years ago, as a bequest of her will. When the punch bowl was discovered, Mr. Africa kindly donated it as well. It now sits on the dining room table.

Another new display, courtesy of the efforts of Eagle Scout Dan Lordan, features the Leiper House’s antique tool collection.

Stop in for a tour!

 

 

Historic Views of Nether Providence & Rose Valley

Historic ViewsKeith Lockhart, publisher of the invaluable local history resource delawarecountyhistory.com, has written and given presentations on the history of our county for many years. Keith’s extensive personal collection includes rare publications and hundreds of photographs, many of which he’ll share with us in a presentation on Sunday, March 10th at 2:00 at The Helen Kate Furness Free Library, 100 North Providence Road in Wallingford.
Join us! The program is free and open to the public.

In the News…One Hundred Years Ago Today

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

In the January 17, 1913 issue of the Chester Times, Mr. Leiper ran an ad for his quarries – urging readers to “build, don’t rent.” You could reach the company by phoning “36-A” if you had a phone (fewer than 10% of households did).

Among that day’s advertisements was one for a dentist, accompanied by a macabre illustration, offering to pull teeth for free! Myers & Brothers apparently earned their living on the replacements: “Good teeth” for $5 and “Gold crowns” for $3. Using an inflation calculator, the buying power of $5 in 1913 would be worth $116 now – quite a bargain for all that dental work! Today, The Myers’ building at 514 Market Street (Avenue of the States) in Chester appears to be unoccupied on the upper floors. The first floor is Lou’s Jewelry and Pawn Shop.

In the News…Fifty Years Ago Today

17Jan1963

Click image to enlarge.

As reported in the Delaware County Daily Times, the prior evening’s Nether Providence school board meeting had a full agenda. A $290,000 addition to the high school was scheduled to start in 10 days and contracts were announced. The bonds for the project carried a 2.85% interest rate.

Mentioned at the end of the article is an appeal the Board would file against the State Council of Education’s plan to combine Nether Providence school district with Media and Swarthmore-Rutledge districts; the beginning of a process that continued for many years.

Colonial Christmas Open House

Thomas Leiper HouseThis Sunday, December 16th marks the 30th annual Colonial Christmas Open House at Nether Providence’s Thomas Leiper House. Visit between 1:00 and 5:00 pm to tour rooms decorated for the holidays by local garden clubs: Swarthmore Garden Club, Country Gardeners, Rose Tree Gardeners, Springfield Garden Club, and Providence Garden Club.

Make a stop in the dining room for a piece of birthday cake in honor of Mr. Leiper’s 267th birthday. Additional refreshments will be served, and the repast will be enjoyed with a backdrop of classical guitar music provided by Strath Haven High School student Dean Maola.

The party is free and open to the public (donations for the upkeep of the historic house are always appreciated). After this weekend, the house, located at 521 Avondale Road in Wallingford, will close for the winter with tours resuming in spring.