Downingtown is a borough in Chester County and is 33 miles west of Philadelphia. Downingtown was settled by English and European colonists in the early 18th century and has a number of historic buildings and structures.
It was originally named Mill Town due to its number of mills along the East Branch Brandywine Creek.
Around the time of the American Revolution, Mill Town became more commonly known as Downingtown after the prominent businessman Thomas Downing, who owned a number of those mills. The town was officially named Downingtown in 1812.
The town is located along U.S. Route 30 (Lancaster Avenue). It was an early westward road in the wagon days as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. The Lincoln Highway was the first paved road to cross the nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike started in the early 1940s and was completed in the early 1950s; it runs north of US 30, bypassing Downingtown.
About 1705 Sami Warren built what has become known as the Downingtown Log House. Thomas Downing acquired the Log House in 1739. It remained in the Downing family until 1940, when Thomas W. Downing died and left it to the borough of Downingtown.
It served as the home to the Downingtown Chamber of Commerce from 1950 until 1988. But the Log House was deteriorating as Route 30 had been built close to it. Located 18 inches (46 cm) below street level, the house suffered water damage due to runoff from Route 30 and vibration from traffic weakened the structure. It now sits approximately 70 feet (21 m) west of its original location, 22 feet from the Route 30 sidewalk, and slightly above street level
In 1904 John S. Trower and William A. Creditt, prominent black Philadelphians, founded the Downingtown Industrial and Agricultural School in Downingtown, to serve as an academic and vocational high school for African-American youths to prepare them for work.
Believing the North needed a school like the Tuskegee Institute, the men found land in Chester County and built the school on a 100-acre campus. They both served as principals until their respective deaths in 1921 (Creditt) and 1921. Originally a private, non-denominational school, in 1907 DIAS became a state supported school.
The school operated until 1993 until the Delaware County Community College built a new facility on the property and opened in 2002 as the Chester County campus of the school.
The city has initiated some widespread and continuing renovation in downtown, particularly to the streetscape; private owners have similarly renovated many commercial buildings.
There has also been residential development on recovered industrial lands (brown fields) in the southeastern part of the borough. Downingtown is the home to some large regional and national businesses, including DNB (Downingtown National Bank), First National Bank of Chester County, and Victory Brewing Company. In 1988, a stall in its farmer's market was the first place where pretzels were sold by the founders of Auntie Anne's, now a global company with 1,000 stores and $375 million in annual sales.
The Blob, was filmed in Downingtown. The "Downingtown Diner", was featured in the movie.state. The new Diner in that same location, advertises as the "home of the Blob". It has changed ownership numerous times over the years but is still open.
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Data last updated: Oct 20, 2019 9:33:pm.
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