Rose Valley Borough

Delaware County, Pennsylvania

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Rose Valley Borough Municipal offices are located on Old Mill Lane, Rose Valley, PA 19065.
Phone: 610‑566‑2040.

Kinbawn, circa 1888

Rose Valley [1] is constmcted on an armature of the old roads that were part of the network between the old county seat of Chester to the south and the village of Providence and the later county seat, Media to the north. As such it represents parts of the early development of the Philadelphia hinterland showing the characteristic regional sequence from agriculture cluster to mill village to railroad suburb and eventually to automobile-based community. The agricultural remnants are scattered but include several significant farm houses and bams many of which were later altered to serve the needs of the Arts and Crafts Community.

Rose Valley's milling history had its beginnings in the eighteenth century when its water sources on the edge of the piedmont above the coastal plain made it a center of small water powered mills. Mill operators' houses were common near their mills and Rose Valley has four such buildings. As industry grew, it required housing for its additional workforce resulting in the mill workers' houses scattered along the roads that connected the village to Providence on the north (later renamed Media when it became the county seat) and Chester to the south. These connections made the village a part of the regional milling culture that stretched from Wilmington, DE to Manayunk, PA. According to Henry Ashmead, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, most of the area that is now the community of Rose Valley was acquired by Antrim Osbome around the Civil War.' He operated the village's largest mill complex after the Civil War. As water power gave way to steam and as labor concentrated in Philadelphia's Manayunk and Wilmington, DE's Bancroft Mills where multiple jobs were available, the Rose Valley Mills lost out and by the beginning of the twentieth century, the mills were closed and Osbome was bankrupt.


"Rose Valley [2] was included in land grants by William Penn in 1681 to three Vernon brothers - Thomas, Robert and Randal—while they were still in England. They all arrived here the following year. Robert's grant was confirmed by patent in 1684, Thomas's in 1702 and Randal's in 1711. The three brothers' lands were contiguous, and each had considerable frontage on the east side of Ridley Creek. Randal Vernon built his home on what is now Rabbit Run, and that home still stands. The part of Rose Valley we know as Todmorden was also part of Randal Vernon's grant, but it was not until 1831 when Samuel Bancroft bought the farm and mill on that site that the house was called Todmorden — a name which is said to mean "Death of the Fox" or "End of the Hunt." Robert Vernon's home may have been the three-story stone house on Old Mill Lane, now known as the Bishop White House, getting that name from William White who sent his family here from Philadelphia during an epidemic of yellow fever in 1793."

Thunderbird Lodge, built circa 1790, is noted as a major renovation (1901) by prominent Philadelphia architect William Lightfoot Price (1861-1916). Price was best-known in his connections with the Arts and Crafts movement in America. He studied under Quaker architect Addison Hutton. Thunderbird Lodge was the home and workplace of two noted artists who were also community leaders in Rose Valley—Charles H. and Alice B. Stephens. Subsequent owners (1932) were Allen Seymour Olmsted II (1889-1977) was involved in the incorporation of Rose Valley as a borough in 1923. Mrs. Olmsted was a pioneering social worker who, among other things helped establish Pennsylvania's first birth control clinic. Thunderbird Lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.


Saul Wildlife Sanctuary—The 12-acre Maurice Bower Saul Wildlife Sanctuary was given over a period of years to the Borough by Maurice Bower Saul and his wife Adele Scott Saul. A Marker was erected by devoted neighbors and Borough Council in 1974 at the entrance to the sanctuary behind the Old Mill. The Saul Wildlife Sanctuary contains many of the same trees and plants as are found in Long Point Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition, the Saul Sanctuary contains an number of specimen trees and shrubs to include Pagoda Dogwood, Pignut Hickory, Bigleaf Magnolia and Umbrella Magnolia (Pennsylvania Rare), Swamp Magnolia (one of the largest in Delaware County), London Planetree, and Coastal Plain Willow. Perhaps the most interesting is a magnificent Tulip Poplar, also one of the largest in Delaware County. Hardy Bamboo, an invasive, is spreading rapidly in one corner of the sanctuary. The Saul Wildlife Sanctuary contains the remains of the dam and Mill Race, originally constructed in 1789 to divert water from Ridley Creek to the Old Mill.

Pew Park - In 1933, Council accepted dedication, for park and street purposes, an acre of land from John G. Pew-a triangular piece at the north end of the Borough that caused an awkward dogleg in the road just before the Moylan-Rose Valley Station. Council used Works Progress Administration funds for straightening the road and for landscaping the triangle now known as Pew Park. Two tiled pillars, originally located on Rose Valley Road opposite the entrance to Old Mill Lane, were moved to Pew Park in 1995. The pillars originally marked the entryway to the Rose Valley Land Company's real estate venture on Porter Lane and Possum Hollow Road in 1911. Two of the Borough's longest serving civic leaders are honored with plaques in Pew Park: Mary Whalen Saul McLaughlin, 41 years on Council and 21 years as President, and George H. Greer, 29 years as Controller and 23 years as Mayor.

  1. George E. Thomas, Ph.D., CivicVisions, Rose Valley Historic District, nomination document, 2010, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
  2. Borough of Rose Valley,, 11/2005

Nearby Towns: Aldan Boro • Aston Twp • Bethel Twp • Brookhaven Boro • Chester Heights Boro • Chester Twp • Clifton Heights Boro • Darby Twp • Eddystone Boro • Edgmont Twp • Glenolden Boro • Greenwich Twp • Haverford Twp • Lower Chichester Twp • Marcus Hook Boro • Marple Twp • Media Boro • Middletown Twp • Morton Boro • Nether Providence Twp • Newtown Twp • Norwood Boro • Parkside Boro • Prospect Park Boro • Radnor Twp • Ridley Park Boro • Ridley Twp • Royersford Boro • Rutledge Boro • Springfield Twp • Swarthmore Boro • Trainer Boro • Upland Boro • Upper Chichester Twp • Upper Darby Twp • Upper Providence Twp • Willistown Twp •

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