Booth Farm, Historic Register, Bethel Township, Marcus Hook PA 19061

Booth Farm

Bethel Twp, Delaware County, PA

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  • Booth Farm Map
  • School District: Garnet Valley
  • Post Office: Marcus Hool
  • Zip Code: 19061
Booth Farm
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The Booth Farm [‡] (3221 Foulk Rd.) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.


The Booth Farm sits at the southwest corner of Foulk Road (originally Bethel Road) and Bethel Roads in Bethel Township, Delaware County. The 72-acre nominated property is situated on a ridge, yet the terrain of the farm itself is relatively flat. A long farm lane leads perpendicularly from Foulk Road to the cluster of farm-related buildings and structures, extending beyond them a short distance past a one-acre peach orchard toward back cultivated fields. Organized around a courtyard are a well-preserved Federal-style stone farmhouse (1819, restored/renovated 1979), barn (1819, rebuilt 1910), carriage barn (1820, 1830 addition), frame dairy (circa 1919) and a considerably altered lean-to/pig run. Located behind this main core of buildings are a privy and a corn crib, each moved to the Booth Farm from another location in the late 20th century. Stone walls extend along portions of the perimeter and interior of the property. A sealed well sits adjacent to the stone farmhouse. A contributing archaeological site is located in the easternmost portion of the property. In the rear field, a 1.8-acre parcel carved out for the owner's son (included in the nominated acreage) contains a modem house (1981) and garage (circa 1991). In summary, the nominated property contains four contributing buildings (farmhouse, barn, carriage barn and dairy), four noncontributing buildings (privy, lean-to/pig run and son's house and garage), one contributing site, one contributing structure (stone walls) and one noncontributing structure (corn crib). The well is treated as an uncounted small-scale element. Despite the mix of contributing and noncontributing resources, the integrity of the 19th -century farmstead as a whole remains strong.

A wooded expanse parallel to Foulk Road traverses the property, dividing it roughly 2/3 toward the front and 1/3 toward the back. Cultivated fields thrive on either side of the wooded divide. The farm's wide expanse of open, cultivated fields contrasts with the modem housing developments and tank farms that surround it and are so prevalent today throughout the township. Woodlands also fill the property's western corner, through which the Green Creek meanders. These woods, a Registered Tree Farm (American Tree Association, Department of Agriculture) contain a variety of species: poplar, tulip poplar, hickory, red and white oak, sweet gum and beech.

Rock outcroppings of mafic rock, dark gneiss stone — native to this part of Bethel Township — remain visible in the landscape. From these boulders and small rocks, past generations of Booths built the stone farmhouse and stone walls lining parts of Bethel and Foulk Roads, the farm lane and sections of cultivated fields. The stone walls are built upon deep foundations and laid in a loose bond without mortar. Instead of mortar, small stone wedges between larger stones bind the walls. The walls extend 7/10 of a mile along the perimeter of the property and 1 1/1 0 miles along interior farm lanes and fields.

Oriented southeast, the 2 1/2-story, four-bay farmhouse was built in 1819 out of coursed fieldstone. The foundation, also of stone, is not visible above grade. Three, three-light windows illuminate the cellar, which is accessed by separate cellar doors at the end bay of the main elevation. The off-center, round-arched, fanlighted entrance, located in one of the two inner bays, is characteristic of the Federal style. Carefully cut and laid stone voussoirs reflect the craftsmanship that went into building the house. The six-panel door is a compatible replacement. Three windows on the first floor and four windows on the second floor fenestrate the main elevation. Windows are 6/6 double hung sash, set in wooden frames. Upper sash are original; lower sash are replacements with true divided light wooden sash. A wooden box cornice sets off the shake roof (installed in 2000). Two clapboarded, gabled dormers with 6/6 double hung sash pierce the roof.

Both side elevations have interior end brick chimneys. Two bays of 6/6 double hung windows fenestrate the first and second floors of the northeast side elevation. The southwest side elevation has a six-panel door (accessing the dining room). A first floor window sits beneath a porch built in 1979 as part of a stylistically compatible wooden kitchen addition designed by John Milner Associates, architects of the restoration/renovation. There are no windows at the second floor of the southwest elevation. The symmetrical rear (northwest) elevation is divided into three bays of 6/6 double hung windows.

In plan, the house is divided into four principal rooms on each floor, with a central enclosed winder stair providing access to the second floor and attic. The main Federal-style doorway opens into the front room of double parlors. The parlors have back-to-back angled corner fireplaces. The front room is less ornate than the back parlor. The former has a simple mantel and baseboards, and historically is devoid of window surrounds. Flooring consists of poplar boards. The back parlor, with wide pine flooring, features a pilastered mantel, molded baseboards and reeded or fluted window surrounds with decorative bosses.

Architectural detailing in the house reaches its highest level in the dining room, which faces the front of the property. Here, festoons and stylized pineapples — classic Federal motifs — embellish the mantel. Built-in cupboards flank both sides of the chimney breast. Fluted window surrounds date from the 1979 restoration. A six-paneled door with replacement hardware provides a second means of entrance and egress.

In the latter half of the 19th century the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room was moved forward into the dining room to enlarge the kitchen. As part of a 1979 restoration, the wall was moved back to its original kitchen location. The large kitchen hearth, topped by a simple wooden mantel, dominates the room.

The opening to the beehive oven (operable) is original, while the oven itself - extending into the new addition is a reconstruction.

The second floor is organized as three bedrooms and a bathroom/closet space carved out in 1979. The master bedroom, which sits above the dining room, has a pilastered mantel similar to the one in the rear parlor, two six-panel closet doors, and molded baseboards. As with the other second floor rooms, windows are devoid of surrounds. The other front bedroom features molded baseboards and a simpler mantel, brought to the house from another location by the current owner. At one time a wooden partition had divided this bedroom into two rooms. The small rear bedroom is without a fireplace.

Despite Victorian alterations circa 1870s, the 1819 Federal-style farmhouse looks very much like it did when the first Booth resided there. These alterations — stemming from the period's taste for Downingesque Gothic and Romantic Revival domestic architecture — consisted of the addition of a wraparound porch with cut-out brackets and a central cross gable fenestrated by paired 4/4 double hung sash. In addition, the wall between the kitchen and dining room was shifted to enlarge the former. In 1936 the house was electrified with 60 amp service. In 1950 the current owner began the process of restoring the house to its original configuration by removing the central cross gable. When architects John Milner Associates undertook the 1979 restoration/renovation, the goal was to return the building to its Federal-period appearance while incorporating a modem kitchen and other amenities to make it suitable for late-20th-century occupancy for Thomas and Beverly Booth. Restoration entailed removal of the Victorian porch; return of the original kitchen configuration; reconstruction of a beehive oven; and use of historically appropriate door, hardware, window surround and sash replacements where needed. Upgrades included construction of an architecturally compatible kitchen addition; and installation of 200 amp service, a second-floor bathroom and indoor plumbing (ending reliance on a privy and eventually well water), air-conditioning and an oil burner (replacing coal and wood stoves).

The barn is a typical Pennsylvania bank barn. Its stone foundation dates from around 1819, when it was built contemporaneously with the house. A fire in 1910 necessitated rebuilding of the frame superstructure with a new one of vertical board siding. Five Dutch doors below the forebay enable cows and horses to exit the first (ground) floor which is lined with stalls. The forebay itself is fenestrated by a central loft door and flanking 6/6 double hung windows (one upper sash is missing). The banked entrance is accessed by a large sliding door, enabling machinery to pass through easily. Staggered window openings fenestrate the southwest side elevation. Additional pedestrian access to the first floor is provided through doorways cut into the stone foundation of the northeast side elevation. The barn is framed with hand-hewn and sawn timbers assembled with peg and nail construction. The interior is partially whitewashed. The stone and frame carriage barn was built in two phases, the first around the time of the house (circa 1820) and an addition around 1830. The carriage barn's northeast elevation, entirely of stone, shows the break in masonry from the two periods of construction. The southwest elevation, which sits on a stone foundation, is clad with board and batten siding. The front (southeast) port entrance is open, without doors. Board and batten siding wraps around one of the walls and sheaths the loft area. One central door and two 2/4 double hung windows fenestrate the loft. The rear (northwest) port of the carriage barn consists of stone at the first floor and vertical wood siding above. Paired wooded doors swing open and shut. Two 6/6 double hung windows light this end of the loft. The interior of the carriage barn shows hewn and rough timber construction. The current owner poured a new concrete floor and replaced interior slats along the southwest wall.

Adjacent to the carriage barn stands a clapboarded, frame dairy, built circa 1919. It is accessed by a wooden door hung on strap hinges and is lit by a single 6-light window. The dairy has a concrete trough and floor with drain pipe. Currently, the building is used as a tool shed. The lean-to/pig run consists of an original fieldstone wall that likely dates from the 19th century. The area adjacent to the wall was once part of a pig run. The current owner built a frame structure onto the stone wall to use as a lean-to for heavy machinery storage. The lean-to/pig run is noncontributing due to alterations.

The corn crib and privy, both 19th- or early-20th-century frame constructions, are part of the farmstead ensemble. However, they were not built on or for the Booth Farmstead, but rather were moved to the property by the current owner in the last quarter of the 20th century and are noncontributing. A driveway perpendicular to Bethel Road accesses the son's residence, which consists of a 2-story, clapboarded house (built 1981) and a free-standing, 3-bay, clapboarded garage (built circa 1991). Both of these modem buildings are noncontributing.

The archaeological site in the northeast corner of the property blends in with the flat, plowed field and is void of visible remains. A preliminary archaeological investigation in 2001 and limited plowzone testing, feature identification and excavation in 2002 were undertaken at the site by Professor Heather Wholey and her students at West Chester University. The results of the preliminary investigation indicated at least one and possibly two artifact concentrations. Further testing revealed eight features, including several postholes/molds; a large oval pit, which was bisected and excavated; a circular feature which was minimally sampled; and a long articulated stone "wall" that was not completely delineated but did not appear to be associated with a residential structure due to its length. Among the artifacts recovered were salt glazed stoneware (1720-1805), Westerwald (1700-1775), blue-painted tin glazed earthenware (1640-1802), a very large sample of miscellaneous redwares, a large sample of kaolin pipe fragments, English gunflint, glass beads, metal buttons and fabric button covers. A large sample of brick, nails and a small sample of window glass were also recovered from features and from the plowzone. Later materials including ironstone (1840-1900+) and yellowware (1830-1940) were recovered from one of the features. Upon completion of the excavation, identified but unexcavated features (covered with black plastic) and excavated units and features were backfilled to return the site to its prior appearance and use as a cultivated field(2). Based on the presence of architectural artifacts and features and of 17th and 18th century artifacts, it is not unlikely that the archaeological site relates to the 17th/18th century Robert Pyle log house, demolished in the 19th century, which historical records indicate was located in the easternmost corner of the Booth Farm. [1]

For more than 180 years the Booth Farm has been part of Bethel Township's landscape, anchored by a cluster of buildings visible from Foulk Road. During this amount of time, it is inevitable that outbuildings such as the original pig run, corn crib and privy may not necessarily outlast the elements, impermanent construction or need. An original granary and ice house have been lost, but the loss does not greatly affect the property's integrity. A core of resources dating from the period of significance (1819-1953) survives either well-preserved or well-restored. These include the stone walls, the barn rebuilt upon original stone foundations following a 1910 fire, the 1919 frame dairy, the 1820/1830 stone carriage barn and the 1819 farmhouse. Removal of the house's Victorian porch and central cross gable could be construed as negative due to their place within the period of significance. But, the end result of their removal was a quality restoration of the house to its Federal period appearance, a reminder of Bethel Township's early-19th -century architectural and agricultural heritage.

  1. Heather A. Wholey, >Overview of Initial Archaeological Survey and Excavation on a Portion of the Thomas Booth Property, Bethel Township, Pennsylvania" (December 2001, with Addendum June 2002).



The Booth Farm is important for its association with local patterns of agriculture and history and as a good representative of area farm architecture. Its period of significance begins in 1819, the year in which the Federal-style stone farmhouse was built, and spans to 1953, reflecting the property's evolution from a primarily self-sufficient farm to a tenant and truck farm. The Booth Farm fell into the middle range of farm sizes in 19th-century and early-20th-century Bethel Township. For self-sufficiency, and increasingly for sale to markets in nearby urban centers, the farm produced grain and orchard crops, eggs and butter, a mix that was typical of the Township and of a volume generally proportionate to the size of the farm. As such, the Booth Farm provides insight into norms and trends in Bethel Township agriculture. The farmhouse (restored to its original appearance by John Milner Associates in 1979) stands as a good example of the type and style of dwellings that once dotted Bethel's agrarian landscape. As a cluster of related buildings and structures, the farmstead — the only such survivor in the Township — reflects the architectural composition and layout of 19thand early 20th-century farms that characterized Bethel during its years as a flourishing agricultural community.

The Booth Farm has passed down through six generations of Booths, spanning the 18th to 21st centuries.

The Booths are not only an old family in the community, but also a prominent one. Boothwyn (Upper Chichester Township) and Booth's Corner (Bethel Township) honor their name, which Robert Booth (1685-1727) brought from Yorkshire, England, to Bethel Township around 1712. Robert Booth married Elizabeth Caston of Concord and had seven children. He purchased a 100-acre tract and a 340-acre tract, the former being the Garrett/Booth/Cheyney Farmstead (located on Bethel Road, about one mile east of the subject property), where the family resided. In time Booth expanded his landholdings, setting the stage for his descendants to become the largest landowners in Bethel and adjoining townships. [1] Robert's son Robert had a son Thomas (1764-1825). This grandson of the Booth patriarch married Phoebe Cloud and had seven children whom they raised on the family's Garrett/Booth/Cheyney Farmstead. Thomas Booth prospered and by the 1790s purchased an additional farm, the subject property, that had once belonged to Robert Pyle.

Pyle had acquired 150 acres in 1683 through a land grant from William Penn. His property extended across to the other side of Bethel Road; Booth purchased the roughly 77-acre parcel on the southerly side of the road, where Pyle's log house (demolished in the 19th century) stood at the easternmost corner of the property. The Friends of Concord, Bethel, Chichester and Birmingham held monthly meetings in Pyle's log house. Here on 12 March 1688 the Society of Friends started the first movement in Chester County (from which Delaware County formed in 1786) intended to prevent the sale of alcoholic liquor to the Indians. [2] Pyle, a Justice of the Chester County Court, was involved in settling the boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Delaware in 1701. [3] He was also part of a team of surveyors who surveyed the circular boundary between the two states.

Thomas Booth's eldest son James (1790-1826) cultivated what was at the time the principal Booth family farm. When he married Lydia Forwood, he moved onto the former Pyle farm and resided in the log house reported in "old and decayed" condition in the 1798 Glass Tax. Their oldest child, Thomas (1817-1890), was born in that log house. [4] Two years later, James's father built a more commodious stone house on the property for his son's growing family. James died in 1826, leaving nine-year-old Thomas in the care of his Uncle John Booth. When Thomas (referred to hereafter as Thomas, Sr.) reached his majority, he inherited his share of his father's homestead and purchased the remaining interest. The farm likely was leased out during the interim period. In 1844 Thomas, Sr. married Susanna Marshall, with whom he had four children including Thomas, Jr. (1853-1910). Thomas, Jr.'s son Thomas A. Booth, MD (1874-1929), was a well-known local physician. "Doctor Tom's" son, Thomas A. Booth, Jr., resides on the farm today with his wife.

Bethel Township, only three miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide, is situated on a summit between the Delaware River and Brandywine Creek. Smaller feeder creeks, such as Green Creek and Naaman's Creek, wind through the landscape. When cleared of rocks, the rocky clay soil provides very fertile farmland. English Quakers were the first European settlers in Bethel Township. They arrived in 1683, eager to clear and work the fertile land, and build their homes. By the late 1700s Methodists, also of English origin, outnumbered Quakers. The 1790 census reported Bethel's population of 224 residing among 39 households.

From its founding as a township in Chester County (from which Delaware County was carved in 1786), Bethel was an agricultural community of relatively small, self-sufficient individual farms. General mixed farming categorized late-18th- and early-19th-century Delaware County agriculture. Farmers grew a variety of crops and raised livestock for home use and sold surplus at markets in Chester, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Typical crops included wheat, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, hay and Indian corn. Orchards (apple, peach and cherry) and vegetable gardens rounded out the produce yield. Flax and hemp supplied fiber and oil. Cattle, swine, sheep and poultry provided meat and dairy products. Bee hives were also common for honey production and pollinated clover. [5] While detailed accounts for the Booth Farm do not exist from this period, it can be assumed that the Booths followed the norm of diversification.

Two villages developed in Bethel: Chelsea, originally known as Corner Ketch (Catch), in the northern part of the township and Booth's Corner (originally Boothville) in the western end. The latter, located halfway between Concord and Upper Chichester Townships, got its name in 1835 when Isaac Booth, son of the first Thomas Booth, opened a general store on a property having a blacksmith shop. General stores added to life's necessities and conveniences in the 1830s for Bethel's approximately 367 inhabitants. Post offices at Booth's Corner and Chelsea followed two decades later, Isaac Booth serving as first postmaster for the former.

The advent of railroads in the second quarter of the 19th century gave Delaware County farmers better means to ship their products. Although railroads did not actually pass through the small township of Bethel, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad stopped at Ogden and Boothwyn (1-2 miles away) and the Pennsylvania Railroad stopped at Chester and Marcus Hook (less than 5 miles away). [6] The timing of railroads coincided with the decreasing diversification and increasing specialization of 19th-century Middle Atlantic farms. Improved transportation set the stage for dairying, which grew from women producing butter and cheese for home consumption and perhaps a little surplus sale, to family farms geared up for large-scale dairy production. By 1840 Mid-Atlantic farms processed over $15 million worth of dairy products yearly. Delaware County was part of the "butter belt" surrounding Philadelphia. Together, 4,760 farms in Delaware, Chester and New Castle counties produced over four million pounds of butter in 1850. [7]

Commercial horticulture also developed into an important area of specialization in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The fruit growing industry blossomed between 1845 and 1872 as train lines shipped fresh produce to markets, including Wilmington and Philadelphia. Farmers particularly liked cherry trees because they were more resistant to insect disease than other tree fruits. [8] Many Bethel farmers produced cherries on trees laid out linearly as a "Cherry Line." Apples, peaches, grapes and pears also found a place on local farms.

Mid-19th-century Delaware County was divided into moderate-sized farms, the majority ranging from 60 to 100 acres. At 77 acres, the Booth Farm fit into this pattern. As recorded on the 1850 Agricultural Census, Bethel Township consisted of 3,081 acres divided into 35 farms. At 77 acres, the Booth Farm comprised 2.4% of Bethel's land. Presumably, it was Thomas Booth, Sr. who led the farm in the direction of commercial dairying. In 1849 the farm's five milk cows yielded 500 pounds of butter (2.2% of Township total).[9]

Typical of Delaware County and Bethel Township, butter was not the Booth Farm's sole commodity. The 1850 farm also had two horses, one other cattle (probably a bull) and two pigs. Just like farmers throughout the Township, Booth planted wheat (50 bushels), Indian corn (100 bushels), oats (125 bushels), Irish potatoes (10 bushels), orchard products ($50), hay (15 tons), and small quantities of clover seed (2 bushels) and other grasses (1 bushel). Within the context of Bethel Township's overall production and the Booth Farm's relative size (2.4%), the farm appears to have been a high producer of Bethel's clover seed (14.3%) and oats (4%). It was relatively average in its production of the Township's hay (2.8%) and wheat (1.9%), and moderately less productive in orchard fruits (1.7%) and Irish potatoes (.9%). [10]

In 1854 Thomas, Sr., stepped away from the farm to become a merchant at nearby Booth's Corner, while a tenant assumed responsibilities for the Booth Farm. In the early 1870s Thomas, Sr. returned to the farm and duties as farmer. [11] It is possible that upon his return to the farm that he made one of the few alterations to the 1819 Federal-style farmhouse, namely, the Victorian porch and central cross gable. This type of upgrade, reflective of a farmer's prosperity, was seen throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Making old farmhouses look more fashionable was a far more practical and cost-effective solution than new construction, especially given the other demands for resources on a farm.

By 1879 Thomas, Sr. retired from active farming and resided on a modest 4-acre farm in Bethel Township. Thomas, Jr. occupied the family farm and cultivated it. In 1884 a local newspaper reported, "Between him [Thomas, Jr.] and his father, [the farm] has been more improved since our recollection than any farm in the neighborhood and now is producing crops that make farming 'pay' as the cant phrase goes ..." [12] Major developments on the Booth Farm (and other Bethel farms) by 1880 included the addition of eggs to the dairy trade (45 chickens yielding 200 dozen eggs). Doubling the size of the farm's milk cows to 10 yielded 1,250 pounds of butter, placing the farm on the higher end of butter producers relative to its size. The Booths' planting of cultivated fields was typical of Township patterns as far as the allocation of acreage for oats (150 bushels), wheat (98 bushels), Indian corn (400 bushels), hay (40 tons) and Irish potatoes (100 bushels). And within this context, the farm's yields were appropriate to its size in comparison to other Bethel farms and much improved over the previous 30 years. Perhaps the most noteworthy development during this time period was Booths' investment in orchard fruits (30 apple trees on 3.5 acres and 200 peach trees on two acres). In this area, especially peaches, they clearly stood among the Township's more ambitious farmers. [13]

Thomas, Sr. sold the 77 acres to son Thomas, Jr. in 1885 for $8,000. Under Thomas, Jr.'s ownership, tenant farming of the Booth Farm resumed around 1890 and continued until 1978. Tenant farming in Delaware County was not the norm: in 1930, 86 out of 667 farms (13%) were managed by tenants. [14] The Booth Farm fell into this category because several generations of Booths pursued teaching and professional careers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1910, the year in which Thomas, Jr. died and willed the property to his wife Leah and children Laura E. Booth and Dr. Thomas A. Booth, the barn burned by arson at the hands of a tenant seeking to collect insurance. The Booths rebuilt the barn on its old foundations.

In 1927 Bethel Township had 1605 acres of farmland among 42 farms. Inventoried at 72 acres on that year's state agricultural census, the Booth Farm comprised 4.5% of Bethel's farmland. Thomas S. Whitby rented and operated the farm by the 1920s. Under his management, the farm became a proportionately larger producer of the Township's total grain crops: grain corn (9%), wheat (25%), oats (7.1 %) and hay (6.1 %). He had 25 apples trees, and though the peach orchard seems to have been a crop of the past, Whitby added a dozen pear trees to the farm. However, his overall orchard production was down compared to the Township norm. Three horses, 16 milk cows (10.4% of the Township total), one bull, four pigs and 40 chickens filled the barn and outbuildings. Whitby had two automobiles to store in the carriage barn, but no running water, furnace heating system, motor trucks, gas engines, radios or electricity — equipment and amenities that already had found their way onto at least 25% of Bethel Township farms and 40% of Delaware County farms. The property's long history as a tenant farm, which is not typical of Bethel, likely accounts for its delay in being modernized. [15]

From 1932 until his death in 1978, Thomas D. Smith, a tenant farmer, lived in the Booth farmhouse. He, like many of the period's local farmers, essentially undertook truck farming: sweet corn, hay, vegetables, tomatoes and potatoes. Produce was sold at farmers' markets in Chester and Wilmington. Smith and other area farmers grew cherries as a cash crop.

Even before the First World War, riverfront industry tapped Bethel for oil storage, acquiring farmland to convert to tank farms and thereby reducing the number of farms. Residential development pressure accelerated the decrease in the number of Bethel farms beginning in the automobile age, when factory workers in industrial Marcus Hook sought residential communities from which they could commute. By the 1930s many local truck farmers could not compete with larger operations in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. They became more willing to sell their land for residential development. Similar to post-World War II housing patterns elsewhere in the country, more and more Bethel farms and older homes gave way to new development. Census records illustrate the steady decline in the number of farms in 20th-century Delaware County: 1,429 (1910), 1,287 (1920),995 (1935), 630 (1950), and 185 (1964). [16] Of those Bethel Township farmers who kept their properties intact during the post-War boom, many sold the land for housing developments in the last decades of the 20th century, the population reaching 2,438 in 1980. [17] According to the current owner, the Booth family retained the property throughout these development pressures because they dearly loved the farm and could afford to keep it before taxes became excessive.

In 1979 Thomas A. Booth, Jr., and his wife Beverly moved back into the previously leased family farmstead. The Booths restored and renovated the house (introducing indoor plumbing and central heat), removed the Victorian porch, built a kitchen addition and moved an old corn crib and privy onto the property, replacing those which had deteriorated beyond repair. The family continues to lease the land for its fourth century of continuous farming in a county largely developed as a suburb of Philadelphia and Chester.

The Booth Farmstead is a rare and well-preserved example of an early-19th-century Delaware County agricultural complex, one still existing within an agrarian landscape and operating as a farm. Within the context of Bethel Township, it is the only such survivor. Other period homes remain, including a few (Booth-Cheyney Farm, Powell Clayton Home and Thomas Clayton Home) recommended as National Register-eligible in 1984. [18] However, the majority of Bethel's early housing stock (including some of those determined eligible) have lost their outbuildings through demolition and/or neglect, and in some instances, construction of modem housing developments, tank farms or other structures have compromised historic settings.

The Federal-style house, with its characteristic round-headed arched doorway, is significant for its materials, craftsmanship and integrity. It was built of native coursed fieldstone, a dark gneiss turned up in the fields and large rock outcroppings of the farm. This same native stone forms approximately two linear miles of stone walls that have extended around and through the property for the past two hundred years. While an architect/builder for the house is not known, his fine workmanship is evident in the corner fireplaces, mantles, fluted and reeded woodwork, and built-in cupboards. Relatively little alteration has been made to the house over the years, the most significant change being a compatible addition designed by restoration architect John Milner in 1979.

As a group, the outbuildings contribute to the architectural significance of the property and its association with Delaware County agriculture. Of particular note are the bank barn, rebuilt in 1910 upon the original 1819 foundations, and the carriage barn, built in two increments (circa 1820 and circa 1830). These buildings, dating back to James Booth, first denizen of the stone farmhouse, anchor the agricultural complex.

The Booth Farm stands as an intact representative of Delaware County's and Bethel Township's 19th- and 20thcentury agricultural heritage.

  1. George Walter Goodley, Bethel Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, thru Three Centuries (1987), 4:2.
  2. Henry Graham Ashmead, Delaware County, Pennsylvania - History (Phila: L.H. Everts and Co., 1884),307.
  3. Goodley, 4:2.
  4. Ashmead, 311.
  5. James T. Lemon, The Best Poor Man's Country: A Geographical Study of Early Southeastern Pennsylvania (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1972), 152-153.
  6. Goodley, 16:2.
  7. Joan M. Jensen, Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986),55.
  8. Stevenson Whitcomb Fletcher, Pennsylvania Agriculture and Country Life, 1840-1940 (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1955),274,277.
  9. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, United States Census of Agriculture, MSS returns (1850).
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ashmead, 311; G.M. Hopkins & Co., Delaware County Atlas (Phila: 1870); Everts and Stewart, Combination Atlas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Phila: 1875).
  12. Delaware County Republican, 18 January 1884.
  13. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, United States Census of Agriculture, MSS returns (1880).
  14. Charles Palmer, A History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Association, Inc., 1932),175.
  15. Records of the Department of Agriculture, Division of Crop Reporting. Farm Census Returns (1927).
  16. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, United States Census of Agriculture (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1925, 1935, 1954, 1964).
  17. Goodley, 16:3.
  18. Delaware County Planning Department, Report of the Findings of the Delaware County Historic Resources Survey, Bethel Township (June 1984).


Adapted from: Bensom Perloff, Carol A., M.S., Booth Farm, nomination document, 2001, 2003 revised, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington D.C.


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