Thornton Village Historic District

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Thornton Village Historic District


Yellow House, October 2009
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Location Centered on Thornton and Glen Mills Rds., Thornbury Township, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 39°54′36″N75°31′54″W / 39.91000°N 75.53167°W / 39.91000; -75.53167 Coordinates: 39°54′36″N75°31′54″W / 39.91000°N 75.53167°W / 39.91000; -75.53167
Area 12 acres (4.9 ha)
Built c. 1750, c. 1777
Architectural style Colonial, Federal, et al.
NRHP reference # 06000745 [1]
Added to NRHP November 14, 2006

Thornton Village Historic District is a national historic district in Thornbury Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Located in the crossroads village of Thornton at the intersection of Glen Mills and Thornton Roads, the district includes 13 contributing buildings built between 1750 and 1855, some in the Federal style. Among its structures, most of which face Glen Mills Road, are the Yellow House, one commercial building, seven residences, a converted blacksmith shop, a converted barn, three stables or carriage houses, and two frame sheds. Some of the houses are . [2]

Thornbury Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Thornbury Township is a township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 8,028 at the 2010 census, up from 7,093 at the 2000 census. It is adjacent to, and was once joined with, Thornbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It contains part of the census designated place of Cheyney University.

Delaware County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

Delaware County, colloquially referred to as Delco, is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. With a population of 562,960, it is the fifth most populous county in Pennsylvania, and the third smallest in area. The county was created on September 26, 1789, from part of Chester County, and named for the Delaware River.

Federal architecture architectural style

Federal-style architecture is the name for the classicizing architecture built in the newly founded United States between c. 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815. This style shares its name with its era, the Federalist Era. The name Federal style is also used in association with furniture design in the United States of the same time period. The style broadly corresponds to the classicism of Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Regency architecture in Britain and to the French Empire style.


It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. [1]

National Register of Historic Places federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred preserving the property.

Yellow House

Over the years, the Yellow House has served as tavern, post office, general store, grocery, textile factory, and hair salon.

The Yellow House opened as an inn and tavern about 1750; the surrounding village was known by the same name until it changed to Thornton. [3] The Yellow House was originally owned by George Pearce. [2] One of the important clients of the Yellow House Inn was George Gray, owner of Gray's Ferry over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. As the American Revolution proceeded, Gray moved his family away from Philadelphia to avoid the impending British Army occupation. Yet Gray's family could hear cannons during the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, and fleeing Continental Army troops came down the road right in front of the Yellow House. Gray's wife treated wounded soldiers in the Yellow House and later a group of Virginia soldiers signed a note of appreciation for her efforts.

George Gray (Pennsylvanian) politician in colonial Pennsylvania

George Gray (1725–1800) served as a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly and as its Speaker in 1783. Gray was a large landowner and the owner and operator of Gray's Ferry across the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia.

Grays Ferry Bridge bridge in United States of America

Gray's Ferry Bridge has been the formal or informal name of several floating bridges and four permanent ones that have carried highway and rail traffic over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The bridge today is a four-lane divided highway bridge, built in 1976, that carries Grays Ferry Avenue from the Grays Ferry neighborhood on the east bank over the river and the Northeast Corridor railroad tracks to the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Kingsessing. An abandoned 1902 railroad bridge, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Bridge No. 1, sits just south of the highway bridge.

Schuylkill River river in eastern Pennsylvania, United States

The Schuylkill River is an important river running northwest to southeast in eastern Pennsylvania, which was improved by navigations into the Schuylkill Canal. Several of its tributaries drain major parts of the center-southern and easternmost Coal Regions in the state.

In 1800, Thomas Charlton set up a hand loom in the Yellow House to make linen. [2]

Linen textile made from spun flax fiber

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is laborious to manufacture, but the fiber is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton. Garments made of linen are valued for their exceptional coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather.

John King established the Thornton Post Office in the Yellow House in 1829. One of the first in its county not located on a post road, the Thornton Post Office is thought to be the oldest U.S. post office still in its original building. [2]

Post road

A post road is a road designated for the transportation of postal mail. In past centuries, only major towns had a post house and the roads used by post riders or mail coaches to carry mail among them were particularly important ones or, due to the special attention given them, became so. In various centuries and countries, post road became more or less equivalent to main road, royal road, or highway. The 20th century spread of postal service blurred the distinction.

In 1845, the Yellow House was purchased by William D. Pennell at a bankruptcy auction.

Isaac Pyle House

The Isaac Pyle House, a stone example of the Penn Plan, was built around 1777.

Caleb Hoopes House

The Caleb Hoopes House is a two-story, four-bay building built about 1790.

Blacksmith House

Built by Joseph Moore around 1805, this two-story, four-bay building reflects a style often referred to as "Pennsylvania Farmhouse".

Beebe House

George Beebe replaced his log cabin with this house, built about 1851 to a similar plan as the Blacksmith House.

William D. Pennell House

This Gothic Revival-style house was built around 1850.

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Thornton is an unincorporated community spanning Thornbury Township, Concord Township and Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States.


  1. 1 2 National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System.Note: This includes Robert J. Wise, Jr. (August 2005). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Thornton Village Historic District" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  3. Ashmeade, Henry (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. p. 710. Retrieved 16 July 2017.