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Downingtown Borough

Downingtown municipal offices are located at 4-10 W Lancaster Ave, Downingtown PA 19335; phone: 610-269-0344.

The borough contains four resources that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The Downingtown Log House circa 1700, 15 E Lancaster Ave; the only surviving example of very early settlement by Europeans in central Chester County.

East Lancaster Avenue Historic District a rich variety of architectural styles are represented in the 50 significant and 64 contributing structures, including: Georgian, Federal, Conservative Italianate Villas, Conservative Queen Anne, and Bungalow.

General Washington Inn circa 1761, 2-story conservative Georgian structure of fieldstone and quarried limestone; builder John Downing, a Quaker, held back on the decorative features commonly associated with the style.

Roger Hunt Mill Complex circa 1759, the only surviving 18th century mill complex in the Downingtown Valley. During the 18th century, there were so many mills in the area that the growing village was called Milltown.

Beginnings [1]

Downingtown's origins are of a small village located midway between Philadelphia and Lancaster. The village was first known as Milltown since it was the location of the last mills on the edge of the unsettled western frontier. Thomas Moore erected 'a water corn mill' in 1716 and Roger Hunt established a grist mill in 1739. The deteriorated structure of the Roger Hunt mill and mill race still survives in Downingtown to this day, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 1761, John Downing opened a tavern on the east side of the Brandywine Creek which was first known as the Downing Mill Inn; not long thereafter, his father, Thomas, developed an industrial complex of mills on the Lancaster Road in Milltown.

Around the time of the American Revolution, Milltown began being known as Downing's Town. During the Revolution, the town was used as a location for storage of food supplies; a forage magazine was constructed in Downing's Town to hold provisions for the troops. During the time of the Revolution, Richard Downing, son of Thomas, continued to operate and expand the families mill complex and the Downing family continued to prosper in the small village.

After the war of 1812, the village name of Downing's Town was changed to Downingtown. The development of stage coach service from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh through Downingtown influenced the villages growth and prosperity. As transportation changed from stage to railroads, Downingtown embraced the changes. New jobs became available and the population grew. The Industrial Revolution also affected the growth of Downingtown, industry and manufacturing facilities located in Downingtown because of its central location and good access to rail transportation corridors.

  1. Borough of Downingtown, www.downingtown.org, accessed April 2007.
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