National Register Historic District
Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document submitted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Adaptation copyright © 2014, The Gombach Group.
The village was in the center of an agrarian economy, which dominated its commerce. Landowners of the day provided food for townspeople from Morrisville to Philadelphia. Although the primary business was agriculture, Edgewood had all the supportive businesses that a farming community relied upon: blacksmiths, wheelwrights, boot and shoemaker, etc. It was also a thriving summer resort, community with several boarding houses and, later, in the early 1900's, a hotel. A greenhouse had a major impact in the early 20th century continuing the tradition of an industry based on agriculture.
The main crops for the Edgewood area were wheat, hay, corn, oats, and rye. They were sold or used for livestock feed and human consumption. Harvested flax and hemp were transformed into clothing, twine, sacks and linen cord. The eventual adoption of scientific farming methods, such as crop rotation and fertilization improved yields, but did not greatly alter the type of crops grown here. Although the village today is more properly considered adjacent to farms, it originally consisted of just a few houses on fairly large tracts of farmland. The farms were family operations relying on a great deal of manual labor. These people were housed in tenant houses on these properties. In the latter part of the 19th century, a combination of improved metal production and more effective farm machinery were responsible for greater efficiency, but the main ingredients in a successful farm operation were still hard work and good weather. The Village of Edgewood acted as a service and support area for the local farms and as a meeting place for the Edgewood and Middletown Grange.
The architecture of Edgewood and its immediate environs reflects on the needs and building technology of the community, spanning a period from the late 1600's to the late 1800's. Basically, the architecture can be broken down into three broad categories: colonial, mid-19th century farm, farm tenant and craftsman's houses and Victorian. The Miller house ("Old Shade") with its Adamesque doorway and beautiful appointments is a fine example of federal architecture. Heston Hall (The Grange) was also built in the grand manner with ornate woodwork and 12 foot ceilings.
The Bennett, Harris, and Flowers homes are frame, and housed many craftsmen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpet weavers, a harness maker and a house and sign painter, all listed in the business directory for Edgewood in 1860.
Some of the original barns and carriage houses remain today, and the village boasts a much-publicized outhouse with four seats, two for children and two for adults.
Tomlinson's, the general store, was a handsome fieldstone 19th century building and the physician who built the first dwelling at the crossroads of the town, Dr. Biles, also built his of fieldstone in 1750, now covered with masonry. Later, the local carpenter, Worrell, was to build a rambling house of the Victorian period.
In summary, the architecture of Edgewood reflects the needs, technology, and the income levels of the community with little of the changing architectural styles and a great deal of emphasis of function over form.
It would be difficult to establish which of the roads intersecting in Edgewood is older. There is reason to believe that the Fallsington-Newtown (Stony Hill) Road is older since it facilitated travel from the upper part of the township to the Friends Meeting House in Fallsington, it being one of the earliest in Bucks County, 1690. The Ferry at Yardleyville was not established until 1693.
In 1807, the Turnpike Company was newly formed and a toll house was erected on the Fallsington-Newtown Road.
Another important element of transportation in the life of the village was the Pennsylvania Railroad's Reading Line with a station stop on Stony Hill Road and numerous boarding houses and stable facilities listed in their directory. Philadelphia families travelled on the railroad to summer here in the country and Edgewood was known as "Summerville" before 1850 and for a short period of time.
Although the village developed out of the needs of the surrounding farms, and in response to the needs of traffic at the juncture of these two major roads, Edgewood never developed beyond the point of being a rural hamlet.
Except for the construction of three or four 20th century structures, it retains the ambience of a mid-19th century village to this day.
School District: Pennsbury
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