Doylestown_Pennsylvania


Doylestown, PA 18901
click for directions>

Welcome to Doylestown

Doylestown's origins date to 1745 when William Doyle obtained a license to build a tavern on what is now the northwest corner of Main and State Street. Known for years as "William Doyle's Tavern", its strategic location at the intersection of the road linking Swede's Ford (Norristown) and Coryell's Ferry (New Hope) (now U.S. Route 202) and the road linking Philadelphia and Easton (now PA Route 611) - allowed the hamlet to blossom into a village. The first church was erected in 1815, followed by the establishment of a succession of congregations throughout the 19th century.

County Seat and Courthouse

During the first decade of the 19th century discontent developed with the location of the county seat for Bucks County because Newtown was not a central location. The more centrally located Doylestown became the county seat in 1813. An outgrowth of Doylestown's new courthouse was the development of "lawyer's row", a collection of Federal-style offices. One positive consequence of early 19th century investment in the new county seat was organized fire protection, which began in 1825 with the Doylestown Fire Engine Company.

In 1838 the Borough of Doylestown was incorporated. 

Growth and Development

An electric telegraph station was built in 1846 and in 1856 a branch of the North Pennsylvania Railroad was completed to Doylestown. The first gas lights were introduced in 1854. Because of the town's relatively high elevation and a lack of strong water power, substantial industrial development never occurred and Doylestown evolved to have a professional and residential character.

During the mid-nineteenth century several large tracts located east of the courthouse area were subdivided into neighborhoods. The next significant wave of development occurred after the Civil War when the 30-acre Magill property to the southwest of the town's core was subdivided for residential lots.

In 1869 Doylestown established a water works. The first telephone line arrived in 1878, the same year that a new courthouse was erected.

In the early 20th century, Doylestown became best known to the outside world through the "Tools of the Nation-Maker" museum of the Bucks County Historical Society. Henry Chapman Mercer constructed the reinforced poured concrete building in 1916 to house his collection of mechanical tools and utensils. Upon his death in 1930, Mercer also left his similarly constructed home Fonthill and adjacent "Moravian Pottery and Tile Works", to be operated as a museum. The home was left on the condition that his housekeeper be allowed to live there for the rest of her life. She lived there and gave tours until the mid nineteen-seventies.

In the decade following World War II, Doylestown's business community boomed. During the 1940s, streets were paved for the first time in two decades and parking meters were introduced downtown in 1948. However, the Borough's post-war housing boom did not begin in earnest until the 1950s, when 550 new homes were built. This housing boom continued into the 1960s and 1970s, as more than 1,600 new homes were built during those decades and the Borough's population grew from 5,917 in 1960 to 8,717 in 1980.

 

Downtown and culture

As the 1990s progressed, the downtown rebuilt itself largely by turning to an out-of-town audience. Doylestown had long been respected as a bucolic tourist destination. The gentry of Philadelphia and New York maintained country estates in the area--including figures of the Manhattan theater and literary scenes--often summered there. The Mercer Museum, Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, and the local National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa brought a regular stream of short term visitors through the area as well. With charitable support, the art deco County Theater was restored and reopened showing art house fare, and a new main library and art museum were built around the ruins of the old stone jail, across the street from Mercer's castle. An official "resort town" designation exempted the area from liquor license caps and empty commercial space began to fill with a dense and vibrant nighttime scene of bars and restaurants.

Community

Provide your feedback

We'd love to hear from you.  Send us an email to info@doylestownsfrontporch.com with your thoughts or to share your photos of Doylestown.  

Photographs by Eric Jacobson

Click here to see Doylestown Museums
Click here to see Doylestown Music Venues

Doylestown Farmers Market