Stroll the Sidewalks Downtown and Take a Step Back in Time
As July begins, many of us will be celebrating our nation’s birth with the traditional parades, backyard barbecues and extravagant fireworks displays. It’s also a great time to take a walking tour of the historic buildings and monuments found in the heart of downtown West Chester.
Some of the structures stand unchanged since they were built. Wells Fargo Bank, for example, at 17 N. High St., opened in 1837 as First Bank of Chester County. It is the oldest commercial structure in West Chester still doing the same business for which it was built. Others have been altered to serve a new purpose. The West Chester Armory Building at 226 N. High St. opened in 1916 as home to the National Guard’s Bravo Company. The armory was transformed into a multi-purpose, multi-stage theater venue and opened in 2017 as Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.
The Historic Chester County Courthouse and the Lincoln Building, featured here, are among the local landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Historic Chester County Courthouse
2 N. High St.
If you’re looking for the heart of West Chester, look no further than the Historic Chester County Courthouse at the intersection of High and Market streets. The building, designed by Thomas U. Walter, the architect of the U.S. Capitol dome, opened its doors in 1848. It replaced the first courthouse that had been built in 1786. The clock tower, the oldest part of the building, was placed on top of the original courthouse in 1838. The clock tower, Corinthian columns and stone edifice made the building a stunning landmark from the start.
The statue, Old Glory, was erected in 1915 to honor Chester County residents who fought in the Civil War. A new courthouse, the Chester County Justice Center, opened at 313 W. Market St. in 2007 to provide much-needed space for the ever-expanding county court system. Today, the Historic Chester County Courthouse, with its clock tower above and Old Glory in the foreground, remains West Chester’s iconic centerpiece.
The Lincoln Building
28 W. Market St.
In need of offices for his growing development business, West Chester resident William Everhart built a three and one-half story structure at 28 W. Market St. in 1833. When built, it was at the end of a row of commercial buildings. The Federal-style Everhart Building was the Borough’s first true office building. It is considered one of the most historically intact sites in West Chester.
Abraham Lincoln’s first biography was written and published in the lower level office in 1860. In recognition of the biography’s historic significance, the Chester County Historical Society re-dedicated the structure in 1947 and officially named it the Lincoln Building. The lower-level office is now a restaurant and tea room is open to visitors during business hours.