Trevose was first called Ridges after William Ridge who, prior to the Revolutionary War, owned much of the land on which the village was built. Although the origin of its second name is uncertain, the village was known as Brownsville until 1873. The main road through the village is still called Brownsville Road and serves as the dividing line between Bensalem and Lower Southampton townships.
In 1873, the New York Branch of the Reading Railroad was completed through the village. The railroad company chose to name the station Trevose after a Bensalem estate of that name.
Source: The Villages of Bucks County, Bucks County Planning Commission
This section of the township took its name from Trevose, the old Growden estate. It was first known as Ridges, in honor of William Ridge, who owned most of the land comprising the town, probably before Revolutionary times. After 1817 it became Brownsville, a name in effect until 1873 when the Reading Railway built its New York Branch through the village and named the station, Trevose.
Attempts were made in 1915 by some residents to have Trevose recognized as a borough. The petition was presented to the Bensalem Township Supervisors, who called a special meeting at the home of Samuel Vandegrift on January 14, 1915 to frame their reaction to the proposal. The following resolution was adopted by Supervisors David Reed, John P. Murray, Edward Vansant, and George C. Ashton, secretary:
"Whereas, the petition of certain inhabitants of the town or village of Trevose located partly in the township of Bensalem and partly in the township of Southampton in the County of Bucks has been presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions of the County of Bucks for the incorporation of said village or town into a Borough to be called the Borough of Trevose and filed with the clerk of said Court.
"And Whereas, the incorporation of the said proposed borough would take from the Township of Bensalem considerable territory, greatly increase the financial burden of the said township and injuriously affect the organization of the township and be a great disadvantage to the Township of Bensalem and of the whole people as a community.
"Therefore be it further resolved that Gilkerson and James the Solicitors for the said township and the said Board of Supervisors be and they are hereby instructed and directed to prepare and file such exceptions against such proposed incorporation."
The supervisors' objections defeated the proposal and Trevose did not become a borough. Some light on the eagerness of the people to form their own borough was shed by Jack Brown, who was interviewed in 1978 by Diane LeBold for the Bucks County Courier Times. His story, With Memories of Trevose, appeared in the February 23, 1978 edition.
Mr. Brown, who moved to Trevose in 1919, noted that Brownsville Road, which divides Lower Southampton and Bensalem townships, was under the jurisdiction of the two townships. Each one was supposed to take care of the portion of road in its own territory, however there was disagreement over where one township's jurisdiction ended and the other's began. As a result, some fifty feet of road was unclaimed and uncared for, according to this old-time resident. The dirt road was a muddy mess in spring.
He estimated that nine-tenths of the homes in Trevose from 1919 to 1930 were summer homes, many occupied by people connected with the Methodist Camp Meeting Grounds at Simpson's Grove, along Brownsville Road. The grove had a pavilion, dormitory, and other facilities as part of the meeting grounds.
There's an interesting story about the dormitory. When the grounds were no longer used for camp meetings, the dormitory was sold to a Philadelphia man who wanted to get out into the country with his family. He built his home inside the shell of the dormitory building, using materials from that building, until he finally had completed his house. Then he tore down the dormitory's outer walls and presto, a house! His daughter was living in that same house in 1984.
In 1919 and for a few years to come, Trevose had no electricity. The Langhorne Electric Company, no longer in existence, furnished electric service only as far as Oakford. The camp meeting grounds summer people had no indoor plumbing, either. Their water came from a central pump in the grove or from a stream of water which ran near Brownsville Road and Central Avenue at that time. The water from the stream was so good that people put it in jars and took it back to Philadelphia when they went home. The stream is now a lawn.
The Trevose Improvement Association was formed to take care of some of these problems. In 1926 the association petitioned the electric company to bring service to the area. It also financed thirty-two street lights, at a cost of eighteen dollars per year, per light. "The money came from dues and fund-raising events, not from taxes," said Mr. Brown.
The association sponsored the building of the Community House in 1922 on Street Road at Philmont Avenue, on land donated by Jay V. Hare. It also formed the Trevose Fire Company in 1926, as an aftermath of a fire on Avenue B which took the lives of two children. The Lower Southampton fire company had been unable to get its bucket fire truck to the scene because of the muddy condition of Brownsville Road.
The other problem in those early days was the school. The nearest was Penn Valley School on Old Lincoln Highway, more than one and a half miles from Mr. Brown's home and most others in Trevose. It was the law that children living that distance from a school could be provided with transportation by the school district. But the Bensalem school district refused to run a bus into Trevose. The Trevose parents protested and in 1923 the first four rooms of Trevose School were built.
The Trevose Horticultural Society was formed in 1923 by Jay V. Hare, who persuaded friends and associates to join in putting on a flower show in Trevose. That and future shows were big successes and the society grew to become the largest rural horticultural society in Pennsylvania. The society has continued to hold annual flower shows. In the 1980's they were staged in Pomeroys department store in Neshaminy Mall.
The intersection of Street and Brownsville roads has changed over the years from two dirt roads crossing, to one of the busiest intersections in the area, and now to a quieter intersection, since the path of Street Road was changed by its curving section at the firehouse.
Source: Traveling Through Bensalem: 1692-1984, Historical Society of Bensalem Township, 1984
Brownsville Road • Old Street Road