The Charlestown Village Historic District was listed the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content on this page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2014, The Gombach Group.
Charlestown Village is architecturally, commercially, and religiously significant.
Architecturally, the district represents the development and growth of a town from the mid-eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Charlestown was originally known as "Hard Scrabble," indicating a style of life emanating from making a living from the stone-filled and hilly land. The name was changed to Charlestown in honor of Charles Pickering, an English explorer, who found gold in the Pickering Creek area. He was later deported to England after being found guilty of counterfeiting gold coin.
Structures in this district are exemplary of stone, frame and masonry buildings in Chester County for the period extending from 1740 to 1870. The architecture represents most facets of the nineteenth century town life, as found in the Town-Hall-General-Store, the Church, mill building and private residences with outbuildings. Although none of the structures are premier examples of their style, they are nonetheless a fine accounting of middle class rural life and in good state of preservation.
Commercially, the constant rebuilding of the mill ruins speaks for the tenacity that the mill industry had on the town. Mills have occupied Charlestown since the time of Job Harvey in the late 1720s. They have produced flax, wool, grain and blankets. Houses were built to accommodate families of mill workers around 1834.
Charlestown was also significant in the local development of Presbyterianism and Methodism. With the influx of religion came the building of schools and other cultural establishments (and organizations) including a Lyceum and local musical bands.
There are seven properties within the Charlestown Historic District. The earliest of these is the Job Harvey House. Built about 1740, Harvey attached this two and a half story fieldstone house to an earlier log house (since demolished). In 1862 a two and a half story addition was placed on the west gable end replacing the log structure. Originally, the house was three bays across by two bays deep; it was enlarged (an additional) two bays across retaining the same depth. The house has a medium pitched gable roof with returns, boxed cornice, center hall and large chimneys at each gable end. The exterior has been stuccoed and whitewashed. All of the main windows are six over nine double hung sash. Porches are on the north, south and west elevations, with the west porch housing a small frame room. The house is built on a slight bank with an exposed basement showing in the rear, and two stone walls which support the elevated porch. A stone springhouse (circa 1740) is the only remaining outbuilding on the property.
On the west bank of Pickering Creek, the Charlestown Wollen Mill is located. Several mills have occupied the site, the earliest being pre-1740 and belonging to Job Harvey. The present mill was erected between 1862 and 1865 by Thomas Senior and has been enlarged several times since. It stands three stories by two bays deep by nine bays across and is constructed of fieldstone in random courses. It was covered with stucco some of which has fallen off. The building has undergone numerous alterations as is evidenced in root style (almost flat) and window styles (of various periods). The building was built in different stages as is evident in demarcation lines on the facade.
The William Nixon House was built and enlarged before 1817. It is built of fieldstone covered with stucco, two and a half stories high, four bays wide and two rooms deep with a gable roof. Chimneys are found at each gable end and the roof is set off by a boxed cornice. The front has doors in the second and fourth bays; the ground floor shows panel shutters while louvered shutters are featured on the top. A two and a half story frame addition has been placed on the left of the older section. This section is two bays across with gable roof and six over six double hung sash similar to that in the main section.
In 1840 the Charlestown Methodist Episcopal Church measuring thirty feet by thirty feet was built. The Church was enlarged in 1881. It is a two level, gable roof with returns, stucco structure. The front entrance in the north gable end of the 1881 section consists of a door flanked by stained glass side lights and topped by half panels set within a Gothic arch. At the second level of the gable end, there are two narrow vertical Gothic stained glass windows. Centered above and between the vertical windows is the datestone with a modified roe window above. The west side of the enlarged 1881 Church has four vertical stained glass windows identical to those in the north gable end. A heavy box cornice is on the east and west sides of the Church. A stucco addition was built to the rear in 1961.
The Moses King House was built sometime in the early nineteenth century. Three bays of the left frontal portion indicate the early house. The two bays to the right as well as the two room rear flat roof section represent later construction. The house is a two and a half story random course fieldstone, gable roof structure. It contains chimneys at each gable end, steep pitched roof, stucco covered sides and rear, a boxed cornice and returns. The first floor features paneled shutters while the second floor has louvered ones; an arched hood hangs over the front doorway. A low stone wall as well as two sets of steps offset the front and left side of the structure. A nineteenth century two and a half story stone barn is also on the property. It has been greatly altered and is used as a residence.
In 1866 William Howard's house and wheelwright shop were destroyed by fire. A datestone on the new house reads "W. and P. Howard 1867". The house, two and a half stories high by two rooms deep and four bays wide is constructed of masonry covered with stucco. Chimneys are found on each gable end, the roof is medium pitched and the roof is set off by a moulded box cornice. The doorway is the second bay from the left. Ground floor windows are six over six double hung sash and set off by paneled shutters; the top floor contains three over three sash without shutters and the second floor windows are six over six with louvered shutters. A one story shed is built onto the rear of the house. The structure features a basement, stone steps leading to the porch and a short stone wall in the front yard.
A structure identified as the "Town Hall" was built near the center of the village. It was built in as-many-as five sections and also served as a general store. It is eleven bays across and two and a half and three stories high by two rooms deep. It may be divided into a gable roof section six bays across and a mansard roof section five bays across. The gable roof portion has three chimneys (one shared with the mansard section) and a porch its entire length and three bays of the mansard part. The gable section has paneled shutters on the ground floor and louvered ones on top with three bays of the mansard part done the same. The mansard part has two round head dormers at the third level. The entirety of this structure is comprised of cut stone with the exception of the mansard roof which is frame.
School District: Charlestown