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Gladwyne, Lower Merion’s first
town, evolved at the intersection of the roads now called Youngsford
and Righters Mill. It is still a quiet, walkable country village, until 1890 known as
Merion Square. Mill Creek flows through Gladwyne; most of the many mills
have vanished or are in ruins. By 1880, the village had
35 houses, a few stores, and 207 inhabitants. Area residents depended
on a stage that operated from Gladwyne to Ardmore, or on the
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad which had a station, Rose Glen,
near the banks of the Schuylkill River. The Merion Square Hotel (now
the Old Guard House Inn) was built on land that was once part of a
250-acre tract of Welshman Richard Walter. It was built in three
stages, the earliest dates from about 1810-1817, completely surrounded
by farm land. Although there is no evidence that the building was in
existence earlier, there is a legend that during the Revolution
colonial troops stopped there to quench their thirst.
The hotel’s next proprietor was Thomas Haley, Johnson’s
son-in-law, who ran the establishment for some years.
The Merion Square settlement, in early years, became known as War
Office because John
Rawlins, a captain of a volunteer rifle company, recruited soldiers
there for the War of 1812. Years before, John Young, a prominent
landowner, was appointed by the Pennsylvania War Office to confiscate
flour and other supplies in the area during the Revolution. Later, as
the hamlet grew, a new owner, David N. Egbert, changed the village name
to the less bellicose Merion Square. Egbert’s store later became
Cornman’s, then a hardware store. Gladwyne is a contrived
name and was probably first used by the Reading Railroad for its stop
at Mill Creek to avoid confusion with other Merions in the township.
The Merion Square
Hotel in an 1896 photo. The inn’s owner, Jesse Johnson, is
the right of the corner post with his family.
Johnson in later
Haley is to the right
of the post with Merrill Haggerty, who is handling the horse and buggy.
The hand pump may be seen today on the Youngsford Road side near the
Haley’s son, Roy and the boy’s pet goat. The inn was encircled by farms with cows,
horses and domestic fowl.
The charming Old
Guard House has enjoyed a fine reputation as a gourmet restaurant for
over 20 years.
Old Guard House Inn, front view.
building and residence (1913 photo) opposite the Guard House was built
in1798 (date stone at east end of building) by Henry Hemboldt. The next
owner, in 1802, was Harmon Yerkes who added a store.
The east end was once known as the War Office, the Saturday night
center in the 19th century for discussions by mill workers. David
Egbert, also a storekeeper, bought the property in 1822 and the family
ran it for 60 years. It also served as the village post office from
Isaac Cornman was the next
owner (1915 photo) and it remained in the family for over 50 years.
After that, it was a hardware store
owned by Conrad Barker. The building photographed in1980.
John Breen’s General Store in 1895, once known as Davis’ in
of the village. The building, after more than a century, looks the same
except for the absence of a porch. It houses the Delaware Market, a
gourmet grocery catering to the carriage trade.
nicknamed Tammany Hall because of meetings of Democrats at the butcher
shop, this small house next to the Gladwyne Free Library had also been
a grocery store and tea room. It is now an attractive private home.
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold
"Hap" Arnold (1886-1950)
was born on a farm in Gladwyne in 1886. His parents were Mennonites,
stern authority figures, who imbued their children with "hard work, no
play." A serious child, "Hap" had a permanent grin...hence, "Hap."
Shortly after the boy was born, his family moved to Ardmore. Dr. Arnold
sold the family home to the Barkers.
Educated locally, he participated in sports and graduated from
Lower Merion High School in 1903.
When brother Tom
refused his father’s edict to attend West Point, "Hap" took the
and found life delightfully liberating there and gained a major
reputation as a prankster.
Arnold’s birthplace, on the corner of Youngsford and Conshocken
Roads in Gladwyne, c. 1902 photo. It now serves as the rectory of St.
John Vianney Catholic Church.
"Hap," on right, with
his sister Betty and brother Tom, photo c. 1888-89.
Since his high school
days, "Hap" was interested in the experimental flights of the Wright
Brothers. His ambition was to be in the cavalry, but he was assigned to
the infantry. There were several mapping assignments in the
Phillipines. On one trip he was billeted next to George Marshall, which
proved important to both men during World War II.
Deciding that flying
was the way out of the infantry, "Hap" enrolled in an exciting new
flight training program offered by the Army Signal Corps. The
instructors: Wilbur and Orville Wright! In 1912, he was almost killed
in a dangerous tail spin which so shattered his nerves that he did not
fly again for four years. Major Billy Mitchell, the aviation visionary,
encouraged "Hap" back into flying.
1945 formal photo;
five stars. Note Military
Aviator Badge on his pocket... only about a dozen were ever awarded.
Arnold’s grandson, Robert, recalls: "He never wore all the medals
had...they would have gone from his shoulder on down!" "Hap" is
regarded as the father of the United States Air Force.
"Hap," standing second
from left, with some of his Lower Merion High classmates.
When home on a leave,
his sister introduced him to a local girl, Eleanor (Bea) Pool. He shyly
pursued her, as did dozens of other Ardmore boys. Bea and "Hap" wed on
September 10, 1912.
When the United States
joined the war in 1917, "Hap," to his chagrin, was assigned to
Washington, D.C. Though unhappy at not being on combat duty, he made
great contacts, learned about mobilization...all of which served him
well later in his celebrated career.
By 1938, he was Chief
of the Air Corps and struggled to bring that branch into the first
rank. He lobbied for increased aircraft production, more air bases and
improved pilot training. After the U.S. entered the war in 1941,
"Hap’s" vision led to victories in Europe (he insisted on daylight
bombings to hit German supply depots) and Japan (initiating fire storms
across that country). He foresaw the future of rockets in conflicts and
worked with the scientific community and industry in their early
Victory took its toll...three heart attacks. "Hap" retired in
1946, wrote three books, (including his 1949 autobiography, Global
visited Lower Merion in 1947. He died a few years later. One of only
nine men ever to achieve 5-star rank, "Hap" was a hero here...and a
hero to his nation.
Arnold’s last trip to the area in May 1947, he visited students
at Ardmore Junior High.
Training with the
Wright Brothers, 1912.
"Hap’s" wedding to Bea
Pool in Ardmore on September 10, 1913.
Normandy, June 1944, Arnold briefs generals: Ike, King, and Marshall.
The Gladwyne Methodist Church
(1913 photo), originally
the Merion Square Methodist Episcopal Church, on Righters Mill Road,
dates from 1838 when it was organized. The first part, now the Sunday
School, was built in 1840, rebuilt in 1865-66 and improved between
1943-1950. An addition was completed in 1961.
Next door is the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows (1912 photo), constructed in 1852. Its cemetery, behind the building,
blends into the cemetery of the Methodist Church and contains the
graves of many of Merion Square’s (Gladwyne) first residents.
After the Civil War, the small
clapboard building was erected to be both the post office and home of the wounded veteran,
William Snell, who became the postmaster of Merion Square, the only
post office in Lower Merion. During those years it was used for storage
for the hardware store next door; then a barber shop. Now the Gladwyne
Lunch, a popular place for breakfast
and midday meals, it is one of the few restaurants in the township
where outdoor eating is permitted.
The solid stone building
built in 1921 by All
Saints Episcopal Church, was the Gladwyne Community Hall with a
basketball court, a stage and, at one time, was the post office. One
room was for Maud
Bell’s books that evolved into the Gladwyne Free Library by 1930.
modern addition and glassed exterior stairwell were added in the 1960s
and the building was completely renovated in1992. The Community Room is
the setting for meetings ranging from the
Civic Association, Story Hour for youngsters, and the Library
annual Craft Show. The library is the "Heart of the Village."
A walk through the Gladwyne (Merion Square) Historic District,
established in 1980, reveals an amazing variety of residences:
converted mill workers’ houses;
simple homes with Victorian, Stick Style and Gothic Revival
embellishments; cottages and double houses from the 1920s; small,
The charming home was
likely a section of a state pavilion removed from Fairmount Park at the
end of the Philadelphia Centennial.
Stores have a smalltown look and pride themselves on their friendly service.
In two short blocks one finds: a gas station; two banks; a big
supermarket and several small groceries; drug store; dry cleaner;
florist; veterinarian; real estate agencies; and other specialty
c. 1880, proprietor of Merion Mills.
Merion Mills, located on the northeast corner of Rose Glen Road where it meets
Mill Creek. It was built in 1836 by Chadwick’s father for the
manufacture of cotton goods. The building became part of the
Gladwyne Colony c. 1910. It was demolished in 1968.
The same mill workers’ house as it appears today, greatly modified
a large northern wing added. The original front doors facing the street
have been made into windows, a porch added on the east to shield the
new front door, above which two of the upper windows were sealed.
A small double
house for mill workers at Egbert’s Mill, c. 1900, shown in the
now a private residence as it is today, basically unchanged except for
a garage addition to the north joined to the house by a second story
ramp. Little is known of Egbert’s Mill, noted as a lampwick
old maps. The two houses, the most eastwardly on Rose Glen Road, became
part of Dr. Ludlum’s Gladwyne Colony. The water wheel (not shown)
the tenant house was a 1980s addition to generate electricity.
(Gladwyne continues next file)
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