Taylor-Cope National Historic District
The Taylor-Cope Historic District (890-1100 blk. of Strasburg Rd./PA 162) was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Taylor-Cope Historic District principally encompasses the small but scenic valley drained by Taylor Run and its juncture with the larger valley of East Branch Brandywine Creek. This rural district is home to historic farmsteads, a former inn, and the industrial seat of Copesville, all of which were established by members of the Taylor and Cope families over the course of 200 years. The district provides, in addition, the pastoral setting for Cope's Bridge, a stone-arched bridge built to carry the Strasburg Road over the Brandywine in 1807. The district contains 16 contributing resources.
At its broadest point approximately one-half mile wide, the Taylor Run valley originates on the north side of Strasburg Road and extends southwest for one and one-half miles before merging with the valley of the Brandywine. The valley walls for the most part are moderately sloping, rising to about 350 feet. On the south and west edges of the district, however, the slopes steepen sharply in places. Most of the land in this stream valley is cleared and in agricultural use. A tree line here and there marks an old property line, and occasional patches of woodland dot the broad expanses of cleared land.
The two principal bodies of water in the district are Taylor Run and the East Branch Brandywine Creek. Taylor Run is a major sub-basin of the East Branch, the latter forming the principal drainage basin in East Bradford Township. In the past, Taylor Run was known respectively as Taylor Run and Black Horse Run. (The district's 18th century inn took the name of the Black Horse.) The Brandywine flows north/south through the township and joins with the West Branch at the forks of the creek near Lenape, the southern boundary of East Bradford. These two branches then unite to form the main stem which flows south toward the Christiana River in Delaware.
The Taylor-Cope Historic District is important in local architecture, agriculture, and settlement. One of the area's earliest settlements in Chester County, the district retains the first permanent home of the first settler. The farms in the district also represent changing agriculture in the country, from 18th century wheat farming, to 19th century cattle production, to early 20th century dairying. In addition, the district contains a locally outstanding collection of rural residential and barn architecture.
The Taylor-Cope Historic District contains one of the earliest sites of settlement in East Bradford Township and Chester County in general. Abia Taylor (d. 1747), a Quaker from Didcott, Berkshire, England, was the first to settle in the district. With his wife, Taylor settled on 430 acres of land in the Taylor Run valley about 1702. His settlement, then the furthest north in this part of Chester County, afforded him a choice, riverside location. By 1719 he had built a mill along Taylor Run (then known as Lady, or Black Horse, Run.) As with other first settlers, Taylor initially would have occupied a log house. In 1724 he replaced his log house with a permanent "mansion house" of brick, which survives with very good integrity. The house was situated to take full advantage of natural amenities, sited on a knoll in a protected valley near a natural source of water. Its design reflected the builder's practicality and his English heritage. The roof is sharply steep to shed snow and rain; pent roofs provide additional protection; windows are small and irregularly placed, except for those on the formal, south-facing facade; and the house faces southwest to capture the warmth of the winter sun. A one story stone barn, also built in 1724, is separated from the house by Creek Road, a very early route south towards Birmingham Friends Meeting, of which Abiah was a member.
Another Quaker family of English origin which would achieve prominence, settled to the east of the Taylor plantation in 1712. By the 1870s, a son, Joseph Cope Sr., was settled at the Woodward-Cope House at "Southdown" in 1840, who in 1881 would co-author the definitive History of Chester County Pennsylvania with James S. Futhey.