Yes You Can Eat Chocolate and Time Travel at the Same Time

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It’s delightful to walk around West Chester and look at the wonderful historical buildings. In some sections of town it seems as if nothing has changed. But don’t be deceived, West Chester has and is evolving.

The new sites on the West Chester walking tour of the Chester County Time Machine will chronicle how society’s needs changed the built environment over time. Go to Barnaby’s on 15 South High St. and scan the QR code found on their door. Appearing on your Smartphone will be three images of what you would see from that spot more than 100 years earlier.

It was important to keep your shoes in good repair back in 1814, when Olaf Stromberg, a Swedish shoemaker had his shop in the log and frame structure. At that time, this was typical of many structures in West Chester. The house was built sometime before 1812 and was known for Olaf Stromberg, who lived there until his death in 1871.  Watch for my next blog which will highlight some fascinating stories about him and further history of the house.

In 1890, when Gilbert Cope photographed Stromberg’s shop, he was documenting the last house of log and frame construction left in the borough.  It was torn down and replaced with the trolley barn and ticket office for the West Chester Street Railway in 1891.  Borough residents were able to ride the bright yellow “High Street Dinky” which traveled from Rosedale Ave. on High Street north to Virginia Avenue. The trolley also ran from New and Barnard Streets north on New Street where it turned and headed east on Market Street.

The third photo shows the Daily Local News building next door to the trolley barn with all the newsboys waiting for their papers. It was taken in the 1930s by Joseph Belt who had his studio just a block away on High Street.

Public transportation too has changed. The trolley was replaced by bus service in 1929 and the trolley tracks were removed for the scrap metal drive during World War II. Today the Bicentennial Parking Garage stables modern SUVs for West Chester’s visitors.

Now if you head across the street (walking in the designated crosswalks of course) you will find yourself sniffing the wafting sweet fragrance of chocolate at Éclat Chocolate at 24 S. High Street. Scan the code on this building and the original purpose of Barnaby’s will be revealed.  West Chester Borough’s municipal building and Police force appear just as if frozen in time since 1923!

When the building was constructed in 1912, this was an ideal central location for Borough business and the police. Pictured are: (L to R): Abner F. Glisson, Ed P. Darlington, Ed Jackson, Charles Margerum, Michael Martin, William Brennan, Abraham Mosteller, Howard Heed, William Gill, Charles Dorsey, Jessy Monaghan and Tom Eavenson.

Watch for more new sites on the Chester County Time Machine this fall.

Pamela Powell, Photo Archivist

This program is generously sponsored by AT & T Foundation and Digital Exhibition Systems, Inc.