history of llanerch

Llanerch Car Barn and Llanerch Quarry

The current location of Kohl's Department Store was the Llanerch Car Barn, where the trolleys were maintained.  South of that was the Llanerch Quarry, where the Quarry Shopping Center is located.

Llanerch Crossing Park

The corner where West Chester Pike and Darby Rd. meet was a gas station and car dealership before lying fallow as a vacant, weed-choked lot.  A partnership between the Llanerch Civic Association, Llanerch Boy Scouts, the Haverford Township Historical Society, and the Township administration, and Commissioner Mario Oliva turned the lot into a gateway park and historic site.  Of special interest are the murals which depict the site at the turn of the century and the three interpretive display panels which highlight the history of Llanerch.

Llanerch Fire Company

Originally a pharmacy and grocery store, this building on West Chester Pike is home to the Llanerch Fire Company, which was established in 1913. Our all-volunteer company is a source of community spirit and pride.

Llanerch School

The original two-story four-room red brick school house in Llanerch was built in 1905 and then replaced in 1913 with the Llanerch School, which still stands at Darby and Llandillo Roads.  The school has been purchased by a developer who will be turning it into luxury apartments and selling off part of the property for the construction of two single family homes.

St. Andrews Church

In 1897, a lot at the corner of Llandillo and Lansdowne was “given by the promoter of the neighborhood” to the newly formed St. Andrews Church, which had been meeting in a Llanerch home.  The church building was designed by Frank A. Hays and was dedicated in 1898.  The 800 pound bell was donated by Henry Delaplaine in memory of his parents, early members of the church.  The church folded in 2013 and is currently being renovated as a private residence.  

Llanerch Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church of Llanerch, located at the corner of Lansdowne and East Park Roads grew out of a Bible Study group in the Dunwoody home on Bewley Road in 1909. By 1912 ground was broken for the original building. The Education Wing – Westminster Hall was constructed in 1953. 

When you are in the neighborhood, take a peek at these sites of historic interest:

Haverford Township is one of the oldest in Pennsylvania, William Penn having deeded the tract of land to a group of Welch Quakers in the year 1681, who named Haverford in honor of their home in Haverfordshire, Wales. 

Haverford Township was primarily agricultural until the early 1900’s.  Llanerch originally consisted of four farms.  The Davis farm of 88 acres was purchased by Samuel Davis in 1793, and included the historic home set at an angle on E. Mercer Ave.  Davis Road in Llanerch is named for the Davis family.  The land from Llandillo Rd to Township Line Rd was the Silas Bewley Farm, for which Bewley Rd is named.  The name Llanerch was given to the property by the Albertson family and is the Welch name for top of a knoll.  By 1897, a small village of twelve “neat and tasteful dwellings of stone or brick” were built, designed by architects Kennedy and Hays, who both lived in Llanerch (Hotchkin, 1897). 

Transportation fueled the development of Llanerch and the rest of Haverford Township.  In 1848, the Philadelphia and West Chester Turnpike Co. built a plank toll road along West Chester Pike, which ran between West Philadelphia and Newtown Square.  Along the route stood several toll houses, including one at Llanerch. The triangle of land where West Chester Pike and Darby Road cross became an important transportation junction in the late 19th century.  The rail lines that met and crossed there transformed fields into suburban neighborhoods.  

In 1895, there was a railroad rights battle between the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company led by John Shimer, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.  Both companies knew that the growing western suburbs would create a gold mine for the company that first established market share throughout Delaware County. By 1895, each of these rail lines had already laid substantial track and were headed for a collision at Llanerch.  The “Battle of Llanerch Crossing,” centered on who had the right of way at this junction, was fought through a labyrinth of legal contracts, injunctions, and appeals to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court as well as at the junction itself with threats, fists and curses. 

Shimer prevailed, and in 1898 built a trolley line from Philadelphia to West Chester, with a station in Llanerch.  The Ardmore Trolley line, which ran down Darby Road from the Llanerch to Ardmore, was built in 1902.  Eventually, the steam trolley ran on electricity and became the West Chester Traction Company. Along with the Ardmore Line, established in 1902, it came to be called the Red Arrow and served Delaware County for nearly 70 years.

Llanerch was the first planned community in Haverford Township.  Since the trolleys provided good transportation to Philadelphia, workers became interested in moving out of the city and commuting to work.  The title to Llanerch was acquired in 1901 by Charles S. Taylor from Mary Albertson.  There was a symbiotic relationship between Taylor and Shimer, because the establishment of the trolley lines sold the houses, and as houses were built, the new residents of Llanerch would purchase trolley tickets.