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Caln Township


Caln Township municipal offices are located at 253 Municipal Drive, Thorndale PA 19372; phone: 610-384-0600.

Caln Township municipal offices are located at 253 Municipal Drive, Thorndale PA 19372; phone: 610-384-0600.

Beginnings [1]

Caln Township has a rich and diverse heritage that is reflected in the historic and cultural resources that are integrated within the existing land use patterns. The preservation of these historic and cultural resources is essential to establish a community bond from past generations to future generations. Since these resources are not renewable, it is essential to recognize their value and promote a future land use plan that is based upon fundamental principles in an effort to preserve, protect and enhance their presence within the community.

The following chronological list of historical events is considered significant in the overall growth and development of Caln Township over the past 300 years:

  • 1681: The land area encompassing Chester County including Delaware County and Lancaster County is established as one of the original counties by William Penn.
  • 1702: The first settlers, mostly of English decent, begin to occupy parts of Caln and the surrounding communities. David Settler names the unincorporated area "Caln" after his hometown of Calne, located in Wiltshire, a section of England 90 miles west of London.
  • 1715: The area known as "Caln" is occupied by 10 residents, 6 absentee landowners and 2 freemen. Some of the early settlers included the Aston, Hunt, Luirs, Miller, Pim, Parke, Roman, Spackman, Coates and Medenhall.
  • 1726: Caln Meetinghouse is constructed as a place of worship and assembly.
  • 1729: The area of Caln is split into two (2) sections and incorporated as East Caln Township and West Caln Township.
  • 1750: The Taylor House, a 2 story stone structure, is constructed in the northern portion of Caln.
  • 1790: Brandywine Township is established as a municipality within Chester County from lands that were previously part of East Caln Township.
  • 1794: The Philadelphia-Lancaster Turnpike Road (now known as Business Route 30 and Lincoln Highway) is constructed through the center of Chester County. The road is considered as one of the first graded and paved roads within Pennsylvania.
  • 1804: A Stage Coach is established along the Philadelphia-Lancaster Turnpike Road with different stops within the region.
  • 1826: Construction on the "Mainline," a railroad system connecting Philadelphia with Pittsburgh commences. The 82 mile railroad segment of the "Mainline," between Philadelphia and the Susquehanna River is called the Columbia Railroad.
  • 1834: Construction of the Columbia Railroad is completed. A section of the railroad traverses Caln Township in an east-west direction, parallel to Business Route 30.
  • 1837: Quakers Richard and Mary Edge Pim construct a stone hexagonal schoolhouse to begin the early education of their 9 children. The unique 75 ton structure is located along Edge Lane until it is relocated to Municipal Drive in 1968.
  • 1844: Brandywine Township is divided into two (2) sections and officially incorporated as East Brandywine Township and West Brandywine Township.
  • 1847: The Thorndale Iron Works is established as a manufacturer of iron plates and other metals.
  • 1849: The Village of Thorndale is founded and named by developers James and John Forsythe for the thorny appearance of the land in which they erected a rolling mill and 16 homes.
  • 1853: Valley Township is established as a municipality within Chester County from lands that were previously part of West Caln Township
  • 1854: The Thorndale Post Office is established and it is initially part of the Thorndale Iron Works.
  • 1859: Downingtown Borough is established as a municipality within Chester County from lands that were previously part of East Caln Township
  • 1867: The City of Coatesville is established as a municipality within Chester County from lands that were previously part of West Caln Township
  • 1868: The remaining portion of East Caln Township is reorganized and split into two (2) sections. The area located to the east of the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek retains the name East Caln Township, while the remaining land area was officially incorporated as Caln Township.
  • 1875: The original train station is constructed in Thorndale to provide transportation services for freight, mail and passengers.
  • 1900: The population of Caln Township reaches 917 residents.
  • 1925: The first public water supply distribution system is established to serve customers in the south central portion of Caln Township. This system would eventually be purchased by the City of Coatesville Authority (presently known as Pennsylvania American Water Company).
  • 1926: The Caln Civic Club is established.
  • 1928: The Caln Elementary School is constructed in an effort to consolidate several one (1) room school houses throughout Caln Township.
  • 1930: The total population of Caln Township reaches 1,676 residents.
  • 1930: The first patients are moved into the new Veterans Administration Hospital, located along the south side of Blackhorse Hill Road. The facility is formally dedicated in 1932.
  • 1939: The Thorndale Volunteer Fire Company is organized to provide fire protection services.
  • 1939: The Ladies Auxiliary of the Thorndale Fire Company is established.
  • 1949: The Thorndale Firehouse is constructed along Business Route 30.
  • 1953: Caln Township becomes a First Class Township.
  • 1954: The Caln Township Planning Commission is appointed by the Board of Commissioners to review development plans and prepare municipal land use ordinances.
  • 1958: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to purchase a 14 acre parcel of land from Mr. and Mrs. Christian Zinn, on which the Caln Township Municipal Building and Police Department would eventually be located.
  • 1958: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agrees to purchase a 20 acre tract of land from Joseph Roper, on which the Caln Municipal Park would eventually be developed.
  • 1958: Caln Township plus six (6) other municipalities surrounding the City of Coatesville form the Brandywine School District to provide educational opportunities for students in grades 1 through 8.
  • 1959: The Caln Township Police Department is established as a one (1) man police force.
  • 1960: The population of Caln Township reaches 6,685 residents
  • 1961: The Caln Township Municipal Building and Garages are completed.
  • 1963: The Route 30 Bypass is completed and open to traffic over a 15 mile limited access highway between Exton and Parkesburg at a cost of 11 million dollars.
  • 1964: The seven (7) municipalities of the Brandywine School District merge with the schools within the City of Coatesville to form the Coatesville Area School District.
  • 1967: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to accept a 30 acre tract of land donated by William M. Lloyd, on which Lloyd Park would eventually be developed.
  • 1968: Caln Township celebrates its centennial anniversary.
  • 1968: The 75 ton stone hexagonal school building is moved from the Edge Farm to a site in front of the Caln Township Municipal Building.
  • 1970: The population of Caln Township reaches 6,689 residents.
  • 1971: The stone hexagonal school building is restored as a municipal landmark and museum.
  • 1978: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to purchase a 20 acre tract of land through the Federal Surplus Real Property, on which the Caln Park West is now located.
  • 1980: The population of Caln Township reaches 9,639 residents.
  • 1980: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to accept a 13.4 acre tract of land known as Brookfield Open Space Area, as donated by Fitzpatrick and Fanning.
  • 1981: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to accept a 1 acre tract of land known as Ruth Dawkins Playground, as donated by the Chester County Redevelopment Authority.
  • 1983: The Caln Township Park and Recreation Board is established as a group of seven (7) members appointed by the Board of Commissioners to provide a variety of recreational activities, programs and opportunities to the residents.
  • 1984: The Caln Friends Meeting House is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1990: The population of Caln Township reaches 11,997 residents.
  • 1995: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners agree to accept a 15 acre tract of land as part of the Thornridge Development, which is now known as the Uhler Tract.
  • 2000: The population of Caln Township reaches 11,916 residents.
  • 2001: The Caln Township Board of Commissioners execute a land acquisition agreement with Marianne Davis Griffith and Theodore R. Griffith, Jr., to purchase a 125 acre parcel of land.

Caln Meeting House - National Register of Historic Places

Located at the confluence of Meetinghouse Road, Bailey Road and Kings Highway (Route 340) the Caln Meetinghouse was entered into the National Register in 1984. Text, below, was transcribed from a copy of the original National Register nomination document.

Significance

The Caln Meeting House is one of the oldest and most historic places of worship in Chester County, as well as in the state of Pennsylvania. The Meeting House was built in 1726 in a grove of trees on "Packets Path" which led from the Brandywine Creel to Conestoga Trail. In later years this bridle path became the King's Provincial Highway, or Lancaster Pike, and was for a time the main artery from the Easter seaboard to the West.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century a conflict developed between conservative, evangelical Friends who emphasized the life and teachings of Christ, and more liberal Friends who placed more emphasis on the Inner Light as the basis of Quaker faith. This growing controversy resulted in the Quaker Separatist Movement of 1827, creating a sharp division between the conservative, Orthodox Friends, and the liberal, Hicksite Friends, so named because of their leader Elias Hicksite.

Caln Friends Meeting is noteworthy as the only Meeting in this area in which Hicksite and Orthodox Friends continued to meet in the same Meeting House, although in different rooms. The Hicksite group, being in the majority, was deeded the building and property, and used the West room for their Meeting, while the Orthodox group used the East room. In 1949 the Hicksite and Orthodox Meetings joined as a unified group in their Meetings for Worship. Because the two factions had met in the same Meeting House during the years of the Quaker Separation, Caln Meeting was regarded by other Friends as a neutral ground, and it continued to be the scene for active Quarterly Meetings, attended by Friends from afar, as well as many rural non-Friends.

The cemetery behind the Meeting House contains many early graves marked only with plain fieldstone. As time passed, however, the majority of graves were marked with inscribed marble stones. The earliest marked gravestone is 1754. In 1803 Colonel Hampton, a Revolutionary War hero, was buried there. The Caln Historical Society has a list of all marked graves in the cemetery, including many persons who played important roles in Pennsylvania history.

Although the Caln Meeting House is no longer actively used by the Society of Friends, it is under the jurisdiction of the Sadsbury Monthly Meeting and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. The building is presently used as a meeting place for various community organizations. Documents of Caln Friends Meeting at the Haverford College Library and the Chester County Historical Society record the history and culture of many early Pennsylvania settlers.

  1. Caln Township, Chester County, PA, 2003 Comprehensive Plan, www.calntownship.org, accessed February, 2016.
**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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