1762: Phineas Eachus sought permission from the Pennsylvania
Legislature to open a "public house" that became known as "the
Turk's Head" at the intersection of the Wilmington-to-Reading
Road with the road from Jefferis' Ford to Philadelphia (presently
Gay and High Streets).
1777/09/15-16: Skirmishs on High Street following the Battle
of the Brandywine left two British dead. They were buried
northeast of the corner of High and Gay Street, but later
disinterred in 1827.
1788/03/03: An act of the state legislature set aside 1120
acres of land from Goshen Township as a "country town" called
1793: The first Roman Catholic congregation was established
in West Chester.
1799/03/20: The town of West Chester was elevated to a
borough by the state legislature.
1799: The "First West Chester Fire Company" was founded in
1804/01/01: The West Chester post office was established.
1805: West Chester's first criminal execution, of a black
woman named Hannah Miller, took place.
1814: The Bank of West Chester was founded on High Street
almost directly across from the court house.
1823: West Chester received its first sidewalks, made of
1824: The Apple Plumbing and Heating Company was founded at
112-114 East Gay Street. That same year, William S. Everhart of
West Goshen opened a store on Gay St.
1825: First attempt to provide public drinking water failed
1829: William S. Everhart purchased the 102-acre Wollerton
Farm southwest of the Borough's center, and began to auction off
1829-1830: Gay and Church Streets were the first streets
paved in the Borough.
1831: The Borough government built a new, enlarged market on
South Street (later Market Street) west of Church Street. It was
enlarged several times over the next two decades.
1832: The West Chester Railroad was built to connect the
Borough with the "Main Line of Public Works" at Malvern.
1833: West Chester's second fire company, the Good Will Fire
company, was formed.
1838: The West Chester street plan expanded to include land
north of the Matlack property on the north side; beyond the "old
Turk's Head or Patton estate" on the east side, and beyond John
Rutter's land on the northwest.
1838: The third fire company in West Chester, the Fame Fire
Company, was founded.
1841: West Chester acquired its first public water system
with a reservoir and pumping station located at Marshall Square.
1846: The present West Chester court house was built.
1850s: One of several "underground railroad" routes passed
from Kennett through East Bradford, West Chester, and Willistown
1851: West Chester received its first telegraph connection.
1852: West Chester received its first gas light company.
1853: Josiah Hoopes started his nursery with specimens
shipped from "the great house of James Backus & Son of York,
1857: Most of the sidewalks in West Chester were
paved with brick.
1858/11/11: The first train of the West Chester &
Philadelphia Railroad reached West Chester from Philadelphia via
1859: The Pennsylvania Railroad leased the West Chester
Railroad to Malvern
1862: The population of Chester County reached 77,000, while
the population of the state of Pennsylvania was 2,900,000.
1863: The First National Bank of West Chester opened.
1868: The firm of Hoopes Brothers & Darlington, manufacturer
of wooden wheels of all types, was founded by William and Thomas
Hoopes on Market Street just east of the railroad.
1871: The State Normal School opened on September 25 with
Dr. E. H. Cook as principal. That same year, rhe Sisters of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary founded the Villa Maria Academy.
1872: The Daily Local News was founded.
1874: James Spence opened "Spence's Oyster and Eating
Saloon" on E. Gay Street.
1879: The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired control over the
line from Malvern to West Chester, and rebuilt it to connect with
the Main Line at Frazer.
1881: The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired control over the
line from Media to West Chester.
1882: Moses Hepburn became the first African-American
elected to Borough Council. In all but one year from then until
1893, there was one African-American member of Council.
1883: The first telephones were installed in the Borough.
The first customer was the Morning Republican, and others
included Hoopes Brothers & Thomas, Dr. John R. McClurg, S. A.
Kirk, Jerome Gray, The Daily Local News, and The
The first switchboard was installed above William Bell's grocery
store at 10 E. Gay Street, and Nathan Rambo was the first
1884: The Denney Tag Company was founded in Philadelphia.
That same year, there were 50 telephones in West Chester.
1884: The West Chester Women's Christian Temperance Union
was founded, the first such group in Chester County. They met at
the First Baptist Church. Sixty women attended the first annual
1885: The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of West
Chester was organized.
1887: The West Chester Board of Trade was organized.
1888: The Denney Tag Company moved to the former Barnard
Street school in West Chester.
1888/07: According to the Daily Local News, "Goose
Creek is one of the filthiest streams that flow near West
Chester. Nearly all the sewage of the town flows into it, and,
besides, a number of water closets sit over it." Westtown
farmers complained about
the pollution, since the stream flowed onto their property."
1889: The Sharples Separator Company began construction of
its factory on E. Chestnut Street.
1889/11/11: Typhoid fever struck the east side of West
1890: The first black graduate of a West Chester school was
William Moore. When he was unable to find an apprenticeship in
any of the trades in West Chester, he went to Howard University
and became a teacher and principal of an all-black school in Cape
1891: The first trolley line opened from West Chester to
1892: Scarlet fever struck two families on East Nields
Street. The first victims were the children of Elwood Smith,
then the Charles Arment children, followed by Mr. Arment and
another Smith child. All recovered.
1893: The Borough Republican party reversed a decade-old
policy of nominating one African-American to represent the East
Ward. That remained unchanged until 1968.
1893: The Chester County Hospital began operation in a pair
of small brick buildings on the north side of Marshall Square.
along South Adams Street for a single square.
1894: The Gay Street School for African-American children
(later Fugett School) was built for $25,000. It employed seven
teachers and a principal.
1898: "West Chester was known far and wide as being friendly
to the slave ... it is largely for this reason that so many
colored people have made and now make this city their home. They
now constitute about one fourth of the population, have a ward of
the city practically all to themselves, and have had
representatives in the Council."
1898: The Model school (later the "Demonstration School")
opened on the West Chester Normal School campus.
1899: The second trolley line started operating from 63rd
Street in Philadelphia to West Chester. By then, West Chester
had about 140 long-distance telephones which provided connections
as far as Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis.
1900: The Schramm company was founded in Philadelphia to
make air compressors.
1901: Samuel O. Barber (grandfather of the composer of the
same name) left the Denney Tag Company to form his own company,
Keystone Tag, located in Mchanics Alley.
1905: The first automobile owner in West Chester was Joseph
H. Sager, who bought a Locomobile in New York City for $850.
1905: The Borough accepted a gift of 10.25 acres from Isaiah
Everhart of Scranton which became Everhart Park.
1906-1910: Despite a series of lawsuits that forced the
Borough to pay penalties for polluting the surrounding streams,
three referendums to authorized borrowing to construct a sanitary
sewer system failled to obtain voter approval.
1908: The Farmers & Mechanics Building opened at the corner
of High and Market Streets.
1909/10/06: James Spence was convicted of selling alcohol to
minors. Eventually, this led to the loss of his restauant,
1910/03/09: Samuel O. Baber was born in West Chester. He
became a amous composer and winner of two Pulitzer prizes for his
1912: Borough Council authorized the construction of sewage
treatment plants at Goose Creek and Howell Run [Taylor's Run].
1912: Walter C. Baldwin founded the Baldwin Electric Shop at
20« S. Church Street.
1913: The State of Pennsylvania took over the West Chester
State Normal School. That same year, the Idle Hour movie theater
opened on E. Gay Street.
1914: The Villa Maria Academy moved from West Chester to its
present location near Immaculata University and was chartered by
the state of Pennsylvania in 1921.
1917: The company of "Chris. Schramm & Sons" got a war
contract to produce machinery for lowering aerial balloonsm and
bought the former West Chester Engine Company building to house
1918: The Philadelphia Electric Company expanded the
generating plant at Chestnut and Walnut Streets, including the
construction of two 220-foot smokestacks. That same year, the
Boy Scouts were chartered in Chester County. Their headquarters
was located in the Farmers and Mechanics Building in West
1926: The State Normal School changed its name to the West
Chester State Teachers College. By then, its original ten acres
of land, had expanded to about sixty acres, and its buildings
cost around $1,000,000.
1927: The West Chester Laundry broke ground at 322 W. Market
Street. That same year, the Girl Scouts were chartered in
Chester County at the suggestion of Mrs. Herbert Hoover following
a "tea" held at the home (named "Greystone") of Mrs. P. M.
1928: Schramm, Inc. opened in West Chester in 1928 at 800 E.
1929: Grocery Store Products Company, founded some time
after WWI, purchased the Edward H. Jacobs Co. of West Chester,
producer of mushrooms. They marketed mushrooms nationally under
the brand name "BinB" (Broiled in Butter), processed at
facilities in West Chester and Kennett Square.
1930/09/14: The Warner Theater opened on N. High Street.
1931: The Mushroom Growers Cooperative Association was
formed under the leadership of William Maule.
1932: The Green Tree Building opened at the corner of High
and Gay Streets.
1933: The Sharples Separator Company went out of business.
1934: West Chester Community Center (Melton Arts & Education
1942/07: National Foam Systems Inc. a manufacturer of fire-
fighting hose in Boston, opened a plant in West Chester to
produce fire-fighting foam for the navy.
1943: Reichel Laboratories (Wyeth) began manufacturing
penicillin in a former garage at the corner of N. Walnut and E.
1944/07/17: Greenfield Park was built in Riggtown on land
donated to the borough by realtor Harry F. Taylor.
1945/07/19: Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered the use of
penicillin, visited West Chester.
1949: The first "modern" grocery store opeated by A&P opened
on W. Market St.
1952: Wyeth Inc. opened its penicillin manufacturing plant
on E. Nields Street. That same year, the first diesel locomotive
reached West Chester.
1953: The Eagle Hotel was gutted by fire.
1953-54: West Chester bypass completed around the east side
of town from S. High Street to N. High Street.
1955: he Denney Tag Company purchased the residue of the
Keystone Tag Company.
1956: By July 15, 1956, West Chester's telephone switchboard
closed as all telephones were converted to dial operation. The
local exchange (Owen, later 696) included about 12,000
telephones. Also, the West Chester bypass was extended from N.
High Street to Downingtown Pike.
1960: The State Teachers College changed its name to West
Chester State College.
1960/10/22: Vice President Nixon and his wife visited West
Chester. Three days later, Robert F. Kennedy visited the State
1961: After buying its rival in December 1960, the Denney
Tag Company changed its name to Denney-Reyburn Company. Also,
the position of Burgess was changed to Mayor.
1962: The Philadelphia Electric Company ended electric
generation at its plant at Chestnut and Walnut Streets. They
continued to generate steam to heat customers in the center of
1963: West Chester State College students formed a chapter
of the NAACP.
1965/11/23: A State College student died after setting
herself on fire to protest the Vietnam War.
1967: West Chester State College authorized the formation of
fraternities and sororities. That same year, the College began
to allow students aged 21 or older to live off campus.
1968: Fred Beckett (appointed) became the first African
American to serve on Borough Council since John W. Brown resigned
March 7, 1893.
1969: West Chester elected its first Democratic mayor, J.
1970; The "Mervin" scandal disrupted local politics and the
1972: The Borough built its first parking garage at Walnut
and Chestnut streets. That same year, the faculty at West
Chester State College became unionized.
1973: The American Association of University Professors
censured West Chester State College for firing history professor
Michael Kay in 1970 because of his political views.
1983: The State College changed its name to West Chester
1984/07/22: The first "Turk's Head Music Festival" was held
in Everhart Park.
1989: Court ordered ward system replaced election of Council