Skippack Township [†] retains much of its colonial and nineteenth century flavor, partly because of the preservation of homesteads throughout the township. The township was created in 1886, when Perkiomen and Skippack Township, established from Mathias Van Bebber's purchase of land from William Penn in 1702, was divided into two townships—Perkiomen and Skippack.
Township government consisted of five supervisors, one of whom served as chairman. The same governmental form existed in 1980. Initially, the government concentrated heavily on road maintenance. This, along with zoning control, still occupies the bulk of the supervisors' attention.
In 1886 Skippack Township had three villages: Creamery, Lucon, and Skippack. The area was heavily agricultural and dominated by lands owned by Mennonites. The 1893 map of the township shows 161 landowners. There were seven schoolhouses, four gristmills, three blacksmith shops, three wheelwright shops, and two carpenter shops. The four churches indicated still survive and are coveredá later in the chapter.
The principal community is Skippack village, located at the junction of Routes 73 and 113. Four of the main buildings in the village were Literary Hall, two hotels, and the post office. Literary Hall was built in 1847 to serve as the local high school but was abandoned by the early 1870s. Isaac H. Tyson acquired the building in 1876. He maintained a "tinker's shop," selling tinware, milk buckets, kitchen utensils, and other goods. Tyson was killed in 1899, when a cow knocked over his ladder while he was working on a barn roof.
For a brief period in the late nineteenth century, the three-story building next to Literary Hall housed the Enterprise Shirt Company. Isaac Tyson's son, Harry, took over the building and began a pump supply ser¡©vice, eventually leading to the establishment of a hardware store. Harry's son, Sylvester, took over in 1939. Among his services were the repair and hand lettering of milk cans. The store was sold to Walter S. Josephson, whose son-in-law Frank Boyer maintains a hardware business there.
The hardware store is a meeting place for the resi¡©dents of Skippack Township. The emergency telephone for the Skippack Ambulance Corps is located there, answered by store owner Frank Boyer, one of many dedicated volunteer firemen and a former chief.
The Upper Hotel, licensed in 1785, continued into the 1930s. It was remodeled into apartments in the 1950s. The Valley House, built in 1850, operated as a hotel until 1980. It is now Ryan's Valley House, a restaurant. Both hotels were centers of social life in the township, and guests came from considerable distances to spend their holidays there.
The post office of Skippack has always been located at a store situated at Store Road and Skippack Pike. The store's owner generally served as postmaster. In 1873 William Hallman built a large storehouse addition. In 1959 the post office moved briefly to a small building behind the store. Larger quarters were needed, so renovations were made to the main store. This new post office space was dedicated in June 1967.
Skippack seemed destined to become a "bedroom" community for Philadelphia and the more populous areas of Montgomery County. But in the early 1970s it followed another direction, concentrating on becoming a center for arts and crafts and antiques. A number of fine antique shops moved into the village. Along with them were craftsmen such as Harry Wolf, a second-generation cabinetmaker, who specialized in restoration and reproduction. Charles and Antoinette Hildebrand have a complex of country shops, among which are a health food store, a cheese shop, a women's clothing shop, and two an¡©tique shops.
The spirit began to catch on in adjacent areas. Also on Route 73 is the "Homestead" complex of shops, owned by Jerry and Marge Barnett, a charmingly remodeled barn that houses an antique shop, a duck¡©decoy shop, and an herb shop. Nearby is the Trolley Stop, a restaurant that served over 3,500 meals weekly in 1980 and is the center for a complex of specialty shops. Behind the restaurant is a Japanese teahouse and swan pond. Several times each year, craft and antique shows bring thousands of visitors.
Creamery is a small community located at the "S" turn of Bridge Road between Creamery Road and Anita Drive. The general store with post office is the focal point. The area was originally known as Harmony Square. In July 1880, when the first post office was to be established, John I. Bean, the postmaster, was informed that there was another post office with the name Harmony Square. Bean chose the name Creamery.
Creamery was thriving in the late nineteenth century. It had a harness shop, Grange hall, shoe factory, blacksmith shop, and creamery. The creamery was the main industry. In addition, there was a tinsmith shop that manufactured milk cans, pails, and related tinware products. The creamery, the first cooperative creamery in Pennsylvania, survived until the 1930s. Its failure was due in part to the large number of dairy farms lost when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the Graterford Penitentiary tract and in part to the improved transportation methods by which farmers could send their products to large and wide markets. The Creamery general store and post office remained in the Bean family for over one hundred years. John Bean operated the store until his death in 1898. C. R. Hunsicker, a son‑in‑law, continued the store until 1926, when Clement Bean took it over. Clement's sons, Harold and Clement, Jr., were next in line. Clement, Jr., died in 1968, and Harold ("Hap") ran the business for seven more years. In July 1975 the post office was moved from the store to a trailer across the street. In 1982 the former creamery building was remodeled for a permanent post office. Michael J. Ford was postmaster.
Lucon, originally known as Amityville, was located west of Skippack village. Its name reportedly derived from the whim of the first postmaster, who liked its sound. The post office closed in the 1930s. Few modern residents know that the cluster of remaining homes even had a name.
Two land acquisition programs did much to change the complexion of Skippack Township. The first was the establishment of the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford in 1927. This removed 1,800 acres from private use. The second was the establishment of Evansburg State Park in 1970. Eleven hundred of its 3,349 acres lie in Skippack. With the two sites, close to half the township acreage is dedicated to public use.
Skippack has had no property tax since the mid-1970s. The township receives revenue sharing funds from the federal government, based on its population and the number of inmates in Graterford Penitentiary.
† Chapter 48, Montgomery County: The Second Hundred Years, Jean B. toll and Michael Schwager, editors, Montgomery County Federation of Historical Societies, 1983, Norristown, PA.
Nearby Towns: Collegeville Boro • East Norriton Twp • Franconia Twp • Limerick Twp • Lower Frederick Twp • Lower Providence Twp • Lower Salford Twp • Norristown Boro • Perkiomen Twp • Schwenksville Boro • Souderton Boro • Towamencin Twp • Trappe Boro • Upper Providence Twp • West Norriton Twp • Worcester Twp •