Looking for fun things to do in West Chester, PA? Why not immerse yourself in the town’s storied past by visiting its many historical landmarks?
Selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a “Distinctive Destination,” the scenic Pennsylvania town is home to over 4,200 structures that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Visiting historical landmarks in West Chester allows you to take a step back in time and get a glimpse of the borough’s rich history.
Ready to embark on a journey of discovery? Here are some fascinating historical landmarks to visit in West Chester:
(Remember to stay safe by following Chester County’s COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines)
Chester County Horticultural Hall
225 North High Street at Chestnut Street
The Horticultural Hall was the last West Chester commission of renowned architect Thomas U. Walter, right before he was named the Architect of the Capitol and oversaw the construction of the very dome which now sits atop the US Capitol Building.
The Horticultural Hall is highlighted by a façade that’s a prime example of the Romanesque architectural style, with distinct features that include buttresses and a recessed Norman arch above the main entrance. The building was constructed using serpentine stone, a type of limestone with a greenish hue, sourced from the Taylor Quarry just north of West Chester.
At the time of construction, only one other building in the entire US was used as a venue for horticultural exhibits. Upon its completion in 1848, the Horticultural Hall hosted its first exhibit, which featured a miniaturized steam railroad, along with other displays.
The Warner Block
Between Gay and Chestnut Streets
North High Street features two exceptional examples of Art Deco architecture, both built in the 1930s, back when the style was extremely popular.
One of them is the Hotel Warner, which takes its name after the Warner Theater. Built in 1930, the hotel is highlighted by the preserved façade that belonged to the original Warner Bros. Theater, with its ornate bas-reliefs and soaring high buttresses. The theater’s original lobby was also retained, along with the original staircase, which now features an expansive mural containing photographs of the original theater.
The other Art Deco building is the Greentree Building, which sits across the street from Hotel Warner.
2 North High Street at Market Street
Designed by renowned architect Thomas U. Walter, the Historic Chester County Courthouse opened in 1848, and is considered one of Walter’s greatest architectural works. The courthouse is among West Chester’s major landmarks today, and is a popular gathering spot for local musicians and performers.
American Revolution War Site
Northwest corner of Gay and High Streets
During the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, a village south of West Chester braced for impact as the war inched closer and closer to their borders. Today, two historical markers commemorate the site where a school house once stood, which was used as a hospital for injured British and American Revolutionary soldiers.
The Battle of Brandywine is known as one of the bloodiest and longest battles in the Revolution. During the battle, Brutish and Hessian forces flanked the Continentals led by George Washington as they were trying to prevent Sir William Howe’s advance towards Philadelphia.
Historic Post Office
East Gay Street at Walnut Street
In 1905, the US Post Office approved plans to construct a new regional post office which will also be used as a federal building. During this time, John Knox Taylor, the Supervising Architect for the US Department of Treasury, envisioned government buildings as elegant and monumental structures, built in classical architectural styles out of only the finest materials.
Constructed over two phases 30 years apart from each other, the Post Office of West Chester is an excellent example of the neoclassical style, with traditional elements that include a blind arcade, medallions, and window treatment expressing features of Federal architecture during the early 20th century.
Another unique feature is the Cockeysville Marble used for the building, which was quarried in Baker’s Station close to Avondale. The white stone was known for having crystalline qualities that make it glisten when hit by sunlight, and is the same type of stone material used for the Washington Monument.
Looking for more information on the community of West Chester? Visit this page to know more about the borough.