The Dilworthtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
Dilworthtown Historic District
Dilworthtown is a small Chester County hamlet that has remained relatively unchanged since the beginning of the twentieth century. It is composed of the Dilworth House, an early eighteenth-century log cabin, two early nineteenth century stone houses, two stone tenant houses, a store, a lyceum, and a few other late nineteenth and early twentieth century structures including a church.
Dilworth House This red brick Flemish bond 2 1/2 story structure was built in 1758 as the residence of a blacksmith, James Dilworth. The house had typical eighteenth century features such as gable and cornices, pent eave on all four elevations, raised stoop with built-in wooden benches, 12 over 12 sash windows, and four bay front.
The first floor plan consisted of a large kitchen with walk-in cooking fireplace composed of three separate brick bake ovens; three smaller rooms each with a fireplace; and a central hallway. There were five rooms (four with fireplace) on the second floor and hallway. Although the original paneled fireplace faces have been removed, most of the other original interior woodwork has remained intact.
From the last quarter of the eighteenth-century, the building served as a tavern, popularly known as the Dilworthtown Inn. A small one story stone kitchen addition to the rear circa 1770, and a larger 2 1/2 story, 2 bay brick addition to the east circa 1800, have substantially increased the size of the original building to its present six bay front.
Another stone house was constructed on the north side of Brinton's Bridge Road in 1820. It is a 2 1/2 story fieldstone building with a six bay front and three chimneyed roof. There is a separate 1 1/2 story stone structure adjoining the house on the east. The datestone is located between the first and second windows on the left in the second story. The porch is a later addition. The original six over six sash windows, window frames, and other woodwork remains, but much of the house has deteriorated.
Dilworthtown Lyceum, or meeting hall, was built in the mid-nineteenth century. This wood frame building still stands, but is in exceedingly poor condition. It is a two story structure built over the old blacksmith's shop. The meeting room was on the second floor, and a section containing apartments formed the east wing of the building. The first floor below the meeting room served as a carriage shop and store.
Dilworthtown Store was built in three sections (with the section on the far right being the oldest) and completed in 1858. It was built of fieldstone and, according to old (late nineteenth century) photographs, was stuccoed and whitewashed. The stucco has been removed from the sides, but remains on the front facade. After completion, the structure had a seven-bay front with three dormers being added at a later date. There are three chimneys, with the chimney of the three bay middle section being noticeably reduced from its original size. The basement entrance has been boarded shut, porch stone replaced, and the old porch posts replaced by Victorian styled ones. The windows are shuttered, but have been removed from the second floor windows.
Two tenant houses built in the mid-nineteenth century are located on the south side of Brinton's Bridge Road. The building on the left is a two story structure with semi-dressed fieldstone covered with stucco. The window openings have been enlarged. To the right is a larger, semi-dressed fieldstone house with stuccoed sides and back. Both houses are three-bayed with a single chimney on the small building and two chimneys, one at each end of the roof, on the larger house. Both structure serve as private residences and have undergone many alterations.
The oldest original building in Dilworthtown is a two-story log cabin most likely built in the early eighteenth century, though local legend dates the house at 1686. The cabin has been altered considerably: wood siding has been placed over the log exterior several times, and now the upper half of the cabin is further covered with shingling. The cabin is currently used for storage purposes and is rapidly deteriorating. The east end of the building can be seen behind the Lyceum.
During the French and Indian War, tires for the wagons of Braddock's ill-fated expedition were made at Dilworthtown's blacksmith shop. In the American Revolution, the town and surrounding area was the scene of the most vigorous fighting of the Battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777. As a consequence, Dilworthtown was severely damaged not by the actual fighting, but by marauding British troops.
Situated at an important crossroads, Dilworthtown served as a community center with its tavern and blacksmith shop in the eighteenth century. With the addition of a post office, store, and lyceum (meeting hall) in the nineteenth century, its importance as a community center continued.
The focal point of Dilworthtown is Dilworth House which is historically and architecturally one of the most significant structures in the Delaware Valley. But the village itself is significant in that it has remained relatively unchanged and is simple way of life unhurried for the past 150 years.