~ Some History of Norwood ~

The name “Norwood” comes from Henry Ward Beecher’s book, “Norwood,” or, “Village Life in New England,” published in 1867. Tradition had always given credit to the wife of John Cochran’s older brother, I. Engle Cochran. But I. Engle Cochran was not involved in Norwood’s development, and the answer may lie with the town’s architect, Robert Morris Copeland. Copeland, a Boston native, was certainly familiar with Beecher’s book. Copeland may even have visited Norwood, Massachusetts, the real town Beecher’s book is based on. The town of Norwood, Massachusetts, is less than a hundred miles from Boston.

Originally a part of the Mortonson land grant, the Grantham Farm was south of Chester Pike and east of Cleveland Avenue.

Andrew Morton inherited the property from his father Morton Mortonson about 1718, and Andrew gave his daughter Katherine Grantham 128 acres in 1734 in what is now Norwood. Katherine had married Charles Grantham in 1728 and lived with him on his farm in what is now Eddystone. In 1792, two of Katherine and Charles Grantham’s sons George and Charles Jr. sold 75 acres of the property to Robert Colvin (sometimes spelled Colvan). Colvin built a small log cabin on the property close to Darby Creek.

In 1833, Colvin sold the property to Matthew Henderson, a farmer from Ridley Park. Henderson originally bought the property with the intention of building a tavern on Chester Pike, but local residents were against the tavern and he gave up the idea. About 1834, he built a farmhouse for his son Robert D. Henderson who inherited the 75 acres on Matthew’s death in 1856. In 1882, Robert Henderson died and his heirs turned his 75 acres into buildings lots and began selling off the farmland in June, 1888.

About 1900, the Henderson family sold the farmhouse to Reuben Bonsall whose descendants, the Boyles, still live in the house today on Henderson Avenue.

Morton Mortonson who built the Mortonson Homestead in what is now Prospect Park originally owned all of Norwood south of Chester Pike. Mortonson, a Swedish settler who came to America about 1654, had received several grants of land that eventually totaled over 650 acres that included part of Norwood.

Mortonson’s grandson Morton Morton (c. 1720 d. 1781) inherited the Norwood property about 1746 and about that time built the brick house that still stand on Darby Creek. Morton married twice and at his death in 1781 left his 300 odd acres in Norwood to his daughter Rebecca Morton Boon (1743-1799) and her two children Lydia and Elizabeth Boon.

Elizabeth Boon (1767-1820) married Thomas Hall (1761-1820) and in 1799 they built a stone house where they lived till their death. The stone farmhouse stood in the 600 block of Chester Pike about where Arby’s Restaurant is today. Although Thomas and Elizabeth Hall had five children, only one, Rebecca, lived to adulthood. When Rebecca’s Aunt Lydia died, she left no children even though she was married twice. At Lydia’s death, Rebecca Hall became sole heir to over 350 acres in what is now Norwood.

Rebecca Hall (1811-1869) married George Gesner (?-1840) about 1827 and had four sons, three of whom lived on the Norwood property. Rebecca and George Gesner never lived in Norwood but lived on the Gesner farm in what is now West Philadelphia. When Rebecca Hall Gesner died in July 1869, she left her Norwood property to her four sons.

1.) William Gesner took over his grandparents’ “The Halls,” The Stone Farmhouse on Chester Pike (75 acres).

2.) George W. Gesner built a house on Darby Creed at Summit Avenue about 1855 (86 acres).

3.) Thomas Gesner built a stone farmhouse for himself about 1850 on Winona Avenue just south of Mohawk Avenue. The house has been torn down and the site is now an empty lot.

4.) J. Washington Gesner never lived in Norwood on his 80 Acres and in March, 1873, J. Washington along with his Brother George sold their property to Charles D. McClees.

John Cochran (1825-1903), a Chester realtor, became interested in the Gesner property in 1872. Cochran had gone into Chester real estate in 1856 and never looked back. By the early 1870’s, he was looking to expand his horizons.

In July, 1872, Cochran bought the William Gesner Farm of 75 acres for thirty-two thousand dollars. In early 1873, Cochran felt his development was not big enough and quickly added the Thomas Gesner farm on April 1, 1873, for twenty-seven thousand dollars.

After buying Thomas Gesner’s farm, John Cochran set to work creating Norwood. He hired Boston native Robert Morris Copeland to lay out the streets and two parks. Copeland, a landscape architect, was already at work in Ridley Park. John and George Duffee, local farmers, were hired to cut the street in and haul excess dirt away. The Duffees planted shade trees on the streets and evergreens and shrubs in the two parks. By late April 1873, Cochran was advertising in local papers.

In the late 19th Century, an auction was a common way to open new developments. The first sale planned for May 22 was cancelled due to bad weather and on Wednesday, May 28, 1873, the first sale was held. Below are two of the newspaper ads that Cochran ran for his auction.

A special train left Philadelphia at one o’clock and the ride was free for everyone. A brass band came along and Cochran provided lemonade and sandwiches. Cochran met the train at the station in a wagon filled with plans. Town plans were given to everyone and the crowd of about 150 people followed Cochran to Norwood Park. Cochran made a few announcements and then the auction began, run by M. Thomas & Sons, Philadelphia auctioneers. The crowd followed Cochran in the wagon and he would stop at various lots he would chose, and the auction for that lot would take place. The auction that day started on Mohawk Avenue, went to Seminole Avenue, and then back to Winona Avenue. About fifty lots were sold at an average price of $125.00.

Although 50 odd lots were sold, few lot owners began to build home. Cochran had two more real estate auctions in 1873 and one in 1874. In 1874, a recession hit the real estate market and sales in Norwood virtually stopped. By 1877 there were fewer than 20 houses built in Norwood.

Norwood station, at the suburban village of Norwood, is eight and one half miles from Philadelphia. The place has grown up entirely since the route of the railroad was changed five years ago. The town was established by Mr. John Cochran, formerly of Chester, but now of Philadelphia, who purchased a tract of ground here and laid it out into lots, with streets running through. A number of gentlemen transacting business in Philadelphia reside here the year round, enjoying the beautiful situation under the different aspect of the season and using the cars daily. To their residences are added this season, several new dwellings, which were in course of erection at the time of our visit. Altogether, there are about thirty cottages and dwellings in Norwood.

J.E. Cochran resides here in a very pretty and nicely painted cottage on Mohawk Avenue. Near Mr. Cochran’s cottage is the residence of William Arkless, built of frame, three stories high, and painted with a light drab color. The dark brown cottage to the right of this is occupied by a Mr. Long, a liquor merchant of Philadelphia. The square, box-like cottage of drab color, is occupied by Mr Hutton, of Baldwin’s Locomotive Works. Both the members of the firm of Young & Kreeger, paper box manufacturers, Philadelphia, own cottages here. They are built precisely alike, front on the same street, and are only about one hundred feet apart. The design of these cottages is very pretty, but their color, light green, is not so much admired. Elias Kane, one of the attaches of the Philadelphia Evening Star, Thomas Gesner and Mr. Bagley, also live here. Mr. John Duffy carries on farming here in a small way. The large brick three-story residence just outside the limits of Norwood is the property of James Trainer.

John Cochran and the firm of Cochran Bros. Own several houses here which they rent on very reasonable terms. The station agent at Norwood Station, Mr. H. Miller, is a carpenter by trade and is building himself a frame cottage near the railroad. The large summer boarding house here belongs to the Cochrans’. it is a four-story frame building and is located in a beautiful grove containing almost every variety of forest tree of full growth: the hickory, the oak, the chestnut, the walnut, towering above the neatly painted edifice and producing a charming effect.

As will be noticed by our illustration, Norwood Station is fully as attractive and as highly finished as any of the other stations on the road. The interior is finished in hard woods and is really beautiful. It is easy to foresee that before many years Norwood will be a pretty suburban town with several hundred inhabitants of the very best class of people. Lots are being sold and houses are constantly going up all the time. The R.R. Company has provided excellent roadway approaches to the station and laid out the adjacent ground in grassy lawn and flowers. Grass, shrubbery and flowers grow most admirable in this vicinity, and no finer lawns can be found than some of those here and at Sharon Hill, Glenolden, Ridley Park and Crum Lynne. The land along here is a strata of clay and gravel, overlaid with san and clay loam.

A pretty, convenient cottage, can be put up in Norwood for about $3800. These cottages have all modern improvements and furnish ample accommodations for a family of six or seven persons. If the grounds cost, say $800 for purchase and improvement, the annual rental of the property to the owner in interest, taxes, repairs and insurance, will easily come inside of $400. For this yearly outlay, a handsome, comfortable, desirable home can secured amid the pleasantest and best surroundings for the mental, moral and physical well-being of the family. Every advantage pertaining to the city can be had in respect to good schools, church privileges, convenient markets, social neighborhood, etc. at the same time the pure fresh air, the healthful out-door life, and the immunity from danger of undesirable associates, peculiar to the country, are enjoyed.
- (From a Guide to the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad).

By 1880, there were about forty families living in Norwood full time. Life was tough in early Norwood. No electricity, gas, telephones or sewer lines.

Residents used wells, some inside homes, some not. Windmills were used in some houses to pump water to tanks in the attic where if flowed down by gravity. Outhouses or septic tanks were used. Most homes used oil lamps for light and coal to heat.

Some residents used gas, which was kept in tanks, for both heat and light. Most houses before 1890 had no heat on the second floor. By the early 1890’s gas, electricity, water and sewer lines were available.

Cochran ran into financial trouble in the early 1880’s. he had started the Town of Prospect Park in September 1874 and along with his Chester real estate was dangerously over-extended. In June, 1883, Cochran’s Norwood property was sold at sheriff’s sale. The majority of the property was bought by William C. Calhoun.

Calhoun (1834-1912), born in Philadelphia, was originally in the meat business. He bought a summer home in Norwood in 1877 and by 1883 was living in Norwood full time. Calhoun became active in Norwood real estate and eventually built over thirty homes which he rented and later sold. Both his son Joseph and grandson Joseph D. Calhoun, Attorney, lived in Norwood. Clahoun’s undeveloped property was sold after his death gradually developed by other builders and realtors.

On June 3, 1893, a group of freeholders in what was called the town of Norwood, a part of Ridley Township, petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions of the County of Delaware to lay their applications for a charter befor the Grand Jury. This group included:

William Calhoun
Albert Austin
Garrison Miller
Harry W. Grocer
Charles A. White
Charles A. White
Dr. George F. Baier
Hubert J. Connell
Katherine H. Tagg
W.L. Edwards
Charles W. Walton
E.R. Ellis
John J. O’Brien
J.E. Parker
Charles D. Hudmett
Charles H. Sialich
T.T. Kreiger
Mary Bates
A.E. Brill
J.S. McMurtrie
Wm. M. Mahoney
Wm. Calhoun Jr.
Charles L. Shaw
Frank Shields
Mary A. Calhoun
Willoughby Clark
William Carr
Charles D. Harris
Edward J. Taylor
Sarah E. Hazzard
Wm. F. Walker
William Steel
Anna E. Bonsall
Nelson Woodward
Augusten Wood
Carrie Rau
Wm. Hamilton
Jennie Morell
William Hazzard
Charles Lynch
John Austin
Mary J. Kessler
J.L. Nelson
William N. Rogers
Mary E. Hawkins
Wm. A. Covington
Charles F. Corson
Samuel McClure
P.G. Lang
John Harrison
Charles Stewart
George G. Henderson
Benjamin P. Martin
W.H. Knapp
H. Reid
Anna C. McVickar
Mrs. C.L, Rinick
William B. Gadbury
J. Houston Dukes
Frank W. Taylor
Alexander Wilson
Chas. Hay Kroy’d
Mrs. N.B. Bye
Edward B. Kelly
F. Girard
M. Lide Hofmann
Fred W. Meyers
S.G. Slaymaker
Nath. G. Watson
Chas. G. Bochenkamp
Charles L. Renick
On June 8, 1893, the Grand Jury returned the application in the affirmative to the Court of Quarter Sessions of the County of Delaware for hearings.

The original petition included all of what is the present Norwood; also, that part of Glenolden lying between the B & O Railroad and Chester Pike and South Avenue and present Borough Boundary.

On November 6, 1893, the court allowed the incorporation of Norwood into a Borough; however, the coundaries set up were those of the present day Norwood and not that which was in the original petition.

The Court also set up the first election of offices for the Borough.

This was held at the Norwood Hall on Welcome Avenue between Winona Avenue and Ridley Avenue on November 21, 1893 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. John Austin was Judge of Election, and Harry A. Burton and John J. O’Brien, Inspectors.

The following were elected as first officials of the Borough:

William Hamilton
Burgess (Mayor)

Augustus Wood

Charles H. Bond

John H. Pike
Justice of the Peace

John S. McMurtrie

C.D. Harris
Justice of the Peace

Benjamin B Cragmile

Charles L. Schell
Tax Collector

On November 27, 1893, Norwood Council convened for the first time, and Charles H. Bond was elected the First President of Council. George C. Skelton was appointed the first Secretary and Thomas W. Pennypacker was appointed Treasurer. At the meeting, the first Ordinance was read to allow the proper authorities to negotiate a loan for Borough purposes.

December 5, 1893, Council formed their first committees: Ways and Means, Highways, Police and Fire and Light, Ordinance and Public Property.

On December 5, 1893, Edward P. Bliss was appointed Solicitor. On January 11, 1894, Council appointed its first group of citizens to help govern the Borough. It was the Board of Health: John Duffee, Dr. George F. Baier, Dr. James E. Laughlin, George Moser and Joseph Parker. This group later appointed William A. Knapp as Health Inspector.

The first Police officer was not appointed until September 25, 1895. He was James Batty, High Constable.

The costs for founding and chartering the Borough, including surveying and legal expenses was $347.90.

The year 1895 was the first clearcut tax year for the Borough. Its assessed valuation was $485,000 and a five mill tax was passed - 10% was allowed for collecting, exonerations and rebates, so the total revenue was $2,182.50.

The town continued to grown slowly, but following the First World War, Norwood had a building boom.

Home development is going on at Norwood by rapid strides. Early in the spring the Chester Realty Co. started four twin houses on lower East Winona Avenue. The last of these are now being completed and sold. Albert McVicker is the builder. These were put on the market at $4,300 each and found ready buyers.

Over on Delaware Avenue M. Torelli is having constructed six houses. These are semi-detached, first story of asbestos shingles. The lots are 75 by 150, nicely located. This is a speculative operation, and it is said the asking price is set at $4,400.

James Dyson has begun a smaller operation on Garfield Avenue. It is understood Mr. Dyson has planned for the erection of six 7-room bungalows in the plot, the construction being of universal stucco and frame. These are to be sold for $8,000.00

At the intersection of Mohawk and Huron Avenues, Charles Wilbank is breaking ground for the erection of a residence.

On upper Mohawk Avenue, Theodore Taylor is undertaking an operation which includes the construction of four 6-room houses.

On the west side of Norwood, the amount of new construction, both completed and underway, is amazing. The Staley’s of Collingdale, are developing this section. On Leon Avenue, Milton Staley had completed thirteen 6-room, semi- detached homes, the construction being almost equally divided between stucco and frame and stone and frame. The prevailing selling price in this operation is $7,100 and almost all of the houses are sold and occupied by individual owners.

Not at the some locality, but on Urban Avenue, Milton Staley has an operation of eighteen 6-room, semi-detached brick dwellings under construction. Some of these are sold.

John Bean and Joseph Calhoun, residents of Norwood, are also operation on a smaller scale on Lion Avenue. Mr. Calhoun has just completed a seven-room stucco and shingle dwelling, while Mr. Bean’s building operations are pretty well advancing.

There is a brisk demand for rentals at Norwood, with absolutely nothing in the way of a vacant house to offer. The real estate men assert they are simply deluged with rental inquiries. Vacant property, susceptible to building operations, is showing a jumpy tendency. Lots bought for $500 in the spring are now being resold at $1,000, giving the speculative holders a neat profit.
- (Chester Times, July 22, 1922)

In early February 1942, the former George W. Gesner Farm was purchased by Donald M Love. The Gesner property ad passed through several owners and in 1916 had been bought by Alba Johnson and Samuel Vauclain as an investment. Vauclain and Johnson rented the 94 acres until their deaths when their heirs sold it to Donald M. Love.

Love built One Poole Plaza and his brother Arthur lived next door.

Donald Love graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1916 and served in the First World Was a Captain. He studied at Oxford in England after the war; and when he returned to the United States, he went into real estate development. He built two small developments in Wayne and Wynnewood and formed the Norwood Park Development Co. in 1942. The majority of the streets in the development, Love, Martin and Poole, were named for family. Love rented the homes in his development and later began to sell them off gradually. In 1956, Love became pastor of the old Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and served in that capacity until 1962. During his tenure as minister, he sold his Norwood Park Development Co. to the church in a complicated deal over taxes. Love died in 1963, and the church gradually disposed of its Norwood real estate through the 1960’s.

Winona Homes the last large development in Norwood occurred in the 1950’s.

In 1846, Neal Duffee, of Aston, bought 78 acres of farmland from William G. Knowles. This property covered all of Norwood, north (west) of the railroad, and had been in the Knowles Family for over a hundred years. Neal, son of Irish immigrant Alexander Duffee, settled into an old log cabin on the property with his wife Lydia Trites Duffee and their six children. The log cabin stood about on hundred feet northwest of the intersection of Garfield and Harrison Avenues. Neal Duffee farmed the property and also taught school in Ridley Township.

Both of Neal’s sons George and John Duffee served in the Civil War.

George (1842-1903) was wounded at the Battle of Fort Fisher in January, 1865, and was discharged. He later attended Bucknell College, and after college John built a house for himself on his father’s property while George continued to live at home.

Neal Duffee died in January, 1888, and left his property equally to his sons George and John.

George took the northernmost part which he developed as East Woodlawn. John took the southern part and the entire area was known as “Duffwyn.” the dividing line between the brothers’ property was just south of Trites Avenue, named for their mother Lydia Trites Duffee (1814-1897).

In 1889, both brothers began selling building lots to prospective residents. Sales were slow until John began building houses himself and selling them. He built his first house in the fall of 1895 and eventually built and sold close to twenty houses.

John Duffee put a deed restriction on his property stating no house could be built for less than four thousand dollars. The area eventually became known as “The Four Hundreds.”

After George’s and John’s deaths, their families moved away and their property was sold to other developers.

The Parkinsons ran the store for almost 50 years, and after them it became a 5 & 10 Cent Store. On October 24, 1965, the Davis Family moved their Davis Trading Post into the building. The Davis Family began as a drugstore at 8 W. Winona Avenue in 1934

The Griffith Funeral Chapel was established in November, 1898 in Lenni, Pennsylvania, by Horace S. Griffith and his son Horace B. In 1906, Horace B. Griffith took over the business of the late Clarence R. Black in Norwood.

Since that time, the business has expanded and is now operating under the Supervision of Horace B. Griffith, III.

Of all the original early businesses established in Norwood, Griffith’s is the oldest business that is still in existence today.


A Methodist Sunday School was organized sometime in March, 1888. The group met at the home of Aaron Huttin, a 58 year old carpenter who lived on Mohawk Avenue.

After a month or so, on May 9, 1888, a meeting was held to organize the Norwood Methodist Church. The meeting was held at the home of William L. Edwards, a florist, who lived at 132 Seminole Avenue. Reverend James K. Raymond of Prospect Park Methodist Church led the meeting. At the meeting, Mrs. William Hazzard (Sadie) offered to sell property she owned at the northwest corner of Cleveland and Mohawk Avenue for a church site. Fund raisers began immediately.

A lawn party was held at Norwood last evening by ladies and Gentlemen of that place for the ppurpose of raising funds for the erection of a chapel. Quite a number of Chester people attended, one party going in James & Sons’ large stage, while another went up in an early evening train. The fete was a very successful and enjoyable affair. It will be concluded tonight.”
- (Chester Times, May 1888)

By June, the congregation had enough money to buy a 40 x 160 foot lot for $450.00, on Mohawk Avenue at Cleveland Avenue. Plans were made immediately to build a small wooden chapel. William Hazzard, a builder, did most of the work on the building which was completed sometime in late July, 1888. Reverend James K. Raymond continued to administer to the new church with the help of William Swindells, a minister from Philadelphia. For a short time, Swindells owned the property the church was on. After just a few months, the wooden chapel had grown too small and plans were made to build a larger one. The new church was begun on the same lot in front of the old wooden chapel. William Hazzard was the builder and work on the new church began in October, 1888. The cornerstone was laid on November 13 and the church which cost $3,000.00 was dedicated on Sunday, April 10, 1889.

Norwood M.E. Church was dedicated on Sunday morning last, and all day services were held. The church was prettily decorated with flowers and plants and a lively interest was manifested by the members who have labored so earnestly in its establishment. The morning services opened with singing, followed by prayer by Rev. E.S. Morell, pastor of the Norwood Lutheran Church. Presiding Elder Neely preached the sermon and complimented the church workers, after which the church was formally dedicated to Almighty God. The benediction was pronounce by Rev. J.K. Raymond. The Sunday school held appropriate services in the afternoon, and was addressed by Dr. Neely and Rev. J.K. Raymond. The sermon in the evening was preached by Rev. Joseph Welch.”
- (Morton Chronicle, April 11, 1889)

In May 1907, the trustees of the church decided to move the church building to its present location at Chester Pike and Ridley Avenue. The actual move began November 23, 1908, and the church was placed on its new foundation December 13. Total cost for the move was $1,575.

By the early 1920’s, the old church had grown too small for its congregation. Plans were made to build a new stone church for $61,000.00 and ground was broken on Saturday, June 24, 1924. The cornerstone was laid on August 17, 1924, and the church itself was dedicated Sunday, November 1, 1925.

The dedication of the new Norwood Methodist Episcopal Church was held in the church yesterday morning. The services commenced at 10:45 o’clock and were in charge of Rev. Ralph D. Alcott., minister. The services started with an organ recital by Isabelle Broadbelt, organist, followed by the singing of The Church’s One Foundation’ by the entire congregation. Then followed a sermon, ‘Open the gates of the Temple’ by R. Paul Collins.

Mr. Alcott then called for the report of the building committee as follows: 14 months ago it was estimated the church could be built for $50,000 and they had $8,000 to bank so far with which to start. He reported that the church had cost $56,000 and so far the members had given $27,500, the board of missions, $6,500, Seventh Street Methodist Church, Philadelphia, $5,000, total $39,000 to be raised of $37,000. The minister at this time thanked the committee for good work.

Mr. Alcott then introduced the speaker of the day, Rev. Charles M. Howell, D.D., supertintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Hospital, Philadelphia, who preached the dedicatory sermon.

A large drawing of the church was then placed on an easel at the front of the church. This drawing was marked off in squares, each square representing $100. The shaded portion represented the amount of money that had already been raised. Dr. Howell then called for subscriptions of $1,000.”
- (Chester Times, November 2, 1925)

An educational wing was added to the church in late 1955.

Sometime in med June, 1888, Reverend Elijah S. Morell (1838-1908) visited Norwood. Morell at the time was pastor of the Chalfont Lutheran Church of Bucks County. Whether Morell was visiting friends or relatives isn’t known, but several Norwood residents approached him about starting a Lutheran Church. Morell canvassed the town and decided a mission church should be started. In mid July, circulars were distributed throughout Norwood informing residents of the starting of a Lutheran Church.

On July 29, 1888, a Sunday school was held in the Norwood school with 9 adults and 28 children attending. That evening a church service was held in the school with about 60 adults and Reverend Morell preached the sermon. The evening service was attended by Reverend Jacob Clutz, secretary of the Lutheran Board of Home Missions. After Morell’s sermon, Clutz asked the group if they wanted to start a Mission Church and the answer was “yes.”

On September 1, 1888, Morell was put in charge of the Lutheran Mission in Norwood. The church was officially organized on September 30 with twenty-two members. One of the original members was Frank Taylor, a Tinsmith of Mohawk Avenue and his grandson, Paul Taylor, is a church member today. In October, 1888, the church purchased the corner lot at Chester Pike and Winona Avenue for $500.00. On the evening of May 1, 1889, the cornerstone for the church was laid under the direction of Rev. Elijah Morell. The sermon was preached by Rev. Eli Huber and a quartette did some singing.

The church was dedicated on November 10, 1889, at a cost of $5,114.47.

In 1903, an Annex was added, but by the 1920’s the church had grown too small, and plans were made to build a larger one. The current stone church was dedicated on November 14, 1926.

The beautiful new edifice of the Immanuel Lutheran Church at Norwood was dedicated yesterday in the presence of hundreds of members and friends of the church. The dediction sermon was given by Rev. Joseph Baker, D.D., of York, Pa., at the morning service. An audience of two hundred and fifty men attended the afternoon service in the Men’s Bible class room where S. Homer Smith, a Philadelphia attorney, spoke on “The Trial of Christ from a Lawyer’s Standpoint.” In the evening, Rev. Lewis C. Menges, D.D., of Harrisburg, president of the East Pennsylvania synod of the United Lutheran Church, occupied the pulpit.

This evening there will be an organ recital by William C. Young, of Philadelphia, assisted by Miss Marie Stanbach, soprano. Tomorrow evening there will be an ex-pastor’s service in which Dr. S.D. Dougherty, Dr. A. Bunn Van Ormer and Dr. Stanley Billheimer will take part. Other interesting features have been planned for the week.

The new church, which is built of native stone, has seating capacity on the first floor of 900, and in the lower church or basement, of 700. It has an up-to-date kitchen, furnace room, lavatories, cut-glass windows and a new pipe organ. The church outfit is valued at about $150,000.00.

The building committee included: William H. Matthias, chairman; Samuel Hayes, Joseph Calhoun, Jacob Lobs, Raymond Crouse, Joseph Shisler, Harry B. Myers.”
- (Chester Times, November 15, 1926)

During the Depression, the congregation fell behind on the new church’s mortgage payments and two church members, Joseph Calhoun and Harry Jordon, intervened and saved the church from foreclosure.

Since 1926, the church had been added onto once, a $115,000 Education Building which was dedicated on June 18, 1961.

Following a call to organize an Episcopal church in Norwood in mid july, 1892, the first meeting was held about July 17, 1892. The meeting was held at the home of B. Mitchell Newbold. Newbold, a clerk, had rented a home in Prospect Park at the time and the exact location is unknown Noewbold lived on South 4th Street, Philadelphia, and later moved to Norwood. Fifteen people were present representing 10 Norwood families.

On July 24, 1892, the first church service was held in Norwood Hall with Rev. Dr. John Balbour, of Chester., officiating. Rent at the hall was a $1.00 a week; heat and light, extra.

By August, 1892, the name, “St. Stephen’s,” had been chosen over three other names. On December 9, 1892, Bishop Whitaker officially recognized St. Stephen’s Mission Church. The church continued to meet in Norwood Hall for the next several years saving money to build a permanent church. By early spring, 1894, the church had purchased part of Norwood Park as a church site from William Calhoun. In April when the digging for this church began, the boro arrested the workmen, and a battle began over Calhoun’s right to sell park land. St. Stephen’s left Calhoun’s Norwood Hall and began to meet in Henderson’s Hall. Henderson’ Hall is now the second floor of Davis’ Trading Post.

Two years later in early 1896, St. Stephen’s bought two lots on Chester Pike at Cleveland Avenue and ground was broken for the church on August 18, 1896, at 11:30 a.m.. (Note: the battle over the original park land went on until 1899 when the Supreme Court ruled against Calhoun.)

Messers. Ward and McGinnis, the contractors, broke ground on Tuesday for the erection of the new frame edifice of St. Stephen’s P.E. Church. It will front on the Pike, and will be quite a large and substantial building.

Messers. Davidson, Lynch, Shrieves and others lent a helping hand in digging the foundation for the edifice.”
- (Chester Times, August 20, 1896)

The new edifice of St. Stephen’s P.E. Church of Norwood, was opened yesterday morning. In the evening the building was dedicated to its sacred uses by Bishop Whitaker.

“At the morning ervices, there was a large attendance. The interior of the church was beautifully decorated. The services were in charge of the Rev. T. Williams Davidson, the new rector of the parish. He took for the subject of his discourse, ‘St. Stephen’s Festival, its Purpose and Lesson,’ speaking from the text, Rev. VII:14.

The congregation was organized in July of 1892.

The cornerstone was laid in early September and the church itself was dedicated on All Saints Day, November 1, 1896.

The present building is to be used as a chapel after the erection of a church on an adjoining lot. The new chapel has a seating capacity of 150. The building committee, who officiated and handed over the papers at last night’s services were: Charlie Lynch, M.F. Newbold, W.H. Shrieves and Henry Beniston. A special choir sung at all the services yesterday.”
- (Chester Times, November 2, 1896)

A rectory was started in late 1897 and opened in May of 1898. The rectory itself was designed by the minister’s wife, Mrs. T. William Davidson. The rectory served as the parish house until 1902 when a vestry room was added and later enlarged in 1914. St. Stephen’s became self-supporting in 1908. The church has changed little since it was built. The interior was modernized in the mid-1960’s.

St. Gabriel’s was started by Reverend Michael J. Rafferty of St. Rose of Lima in Eddystone to accommodate parishioners between Eddystone and Darby.

Services began to be held in late 1891 in Henderson’s Hall, the second floor of today’s Davis’ Trading Post. Later services were moved to the Norwood Hotel on Ridley Avenue and by early 1893, property had been purchased for a church. Ground was broken on May 1 and the small chapel completed July 1, 1893.

St. Gabriel’s Roman Catholic Chapel, at Norwood, was dedicated yesterday morning by Rev. Monsignor Cantwell, of St. Phillip’s Catholic Church, Philadelphia, Lawrence N. Deerlog, of this city, was master of ceremonies; Father Sinnott was first deacon, and Father Trainer was sub deacon. There were sixteen clergymen in attendance, including Father James Timmins, of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Chester, and Father T.J. McGlinn, of the Immaculate Heart Church, also of this city.

Father Daly, of Philadelphia, preached the dedication sermon at 11 o’clock, taking as his subject the parable of “The Publican and the Pharisee.’

The altar was tastefully decorated with choice plants and flowers, and twenty-eight large lighted candles made the effect at once beautiful and impressive. This work of decorating was done chiefly by Mrs. Ella Conwell, who is the sacristan, and it did her great credit.”
- (Chester Times, July 31, 1893)

St. Gabriel’s was originally part of St. Rose’s Parish, and at one time St. Gabriel’s Parish covered forty-two square miles.in 1908 the church became a mission parish under the then newly established St. Madeline’s of Ridley Park.

In 1914, St. Gabriel’s was given full parish status and a new stone church was dedicated on Sunday, September 13, 1914.

Solemn services attend the dedication and opening yesterday morning of the new school-chapel building erected on Mohawk Avenue for the congregation of St. Gabriel’s parish. The Rev. J.J. McCort, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia officiated at the exercises. Following the Blessing of the handsome new edifice, the Litany of the Saints was rendered by the officers of the Mass, the responses being given by assisting clergymen. The seating capacity of the present church was taxed with representatives from this and many of the nearby parishes.

The dedication of the opening of the building, a solemn High Mass was celebrated. The officers were: Rev. Michael J. Rafferty, ‘ celebrant; Rev. Thomas J. Ryan, deacon; Rev. Patrick D. Houston, sub-deacon; Rev. Thomas McNally, master of ceremonies. The sermon of the Mass was delivered by Rev. William L. Loftus of St. John’s Church, Philadelphia, on the text ‘How Terrible is this Place? This is no other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.’

Enchantment was added to the solemnity of the exercises in the rendition of Hayden’s Third Mass by St. Madeline’s choir under the direction of Miss Mati Delores McEntee, with the following soloists: Miss May Farley, Miss Mary Josephine Commerford, J. Aloysius Smith, Donald Griffin, and P.A. Merande. The choir then assisted in the portraying rendering of the various parts by an orchestra of many pieces. Seated in the sanctuary were the following visiting clergymen: Rev. William Lally, of Philadelphia; Rev. Joseph Munville, Sharon Hill; Rev. James Nelson, Morton; Rev. Gustauve Gauster, Chester; Rev. Nolan, Ridley Park; Rev. Joseph Smith of Norwood.”
- (Chester Times, September 14, 1914)

In 1922, a second story was added to the church for a parochial school which was dedicated August 26 and opened on September 8, 1922. The convent was added in 1923 and the rectory, in 1924, on the site of the original chapel on Chester Pike.

Following World Was II, the church and the school had grown too small due to the many Catholic families moving from Philadelphia into the Norwood area. Plans were made for a new church, school, and convent. Ground was broken for the new church on April 15, 1954, and the current church was dedicated in 1956.

The current school was opened in 1960 and an addition of 8 classrooms was added in 1962. The current convent was completed in 1963.

The Norwood Fire Company was organized on Monday, November 21, 1892, in Calhoun’s Hall. Calhoun’s Hall was owned by William Calhoun and was a public hall that stood at the corner of Winona and Welcome Avenues where Gera’s café is today.

Thirty-two men attended the first meeting and they chipped in $150.00 to get the fire company started. Dues were fixed at $5.00 a year for each member and the name Norwood Fire Co. #1” was chosen. William Calhoun was chosen first president.

The first piece of equipment was a hose reel obtained from the Harmony Fire Company of Philadelphia.

The fire Company was chartered by the Delaware County Courts on September 2, 1895.

Ground was obtained from Sam Hall for $875.00 on Winona Avenue for a fire house and a small brick fire house was built in late 1902. The Firehouse itself was dedicated on Monday, November 8, 1902.

Norwood dedicated the new fire house last night and housed the fire apparatus and the occasion was one of the most notable since the corporation of the prett suburban town.

One of the most imposing demonstration ever witnessed in the boro was the parade of the firemen last night; and to get ready for it, the people were busily engaged all day in decorating their homes, and by evening the town was an entire mass of bunting, Japanese lanterns and other illuminating effects. The rain which fell, did not interfere with the ceremonies, and the crowd that witnessed the parade was the largest that had ever seen a public display in the boro.

Shortly after 8 o’clock, the line was formed and at the signal of Chief Marshal B. Burtin Bolljack, the procession moved.

The order of march was as follows: Morton Band; Ridley Park Fire Company; 60 men under command of Chief Engineer Thomas McKeewa, carrying in line their new silk banner and accompanied by their mascot, Robert Lewis, a shepherd dog; Clifton Heights fire Protective Association; Clifton Chief Andrew McGirr with 90 men; the Norwood Assembly of Artisan, 52 men; Citizens’ Band of Chester; Norwood Fire Company. Occupying the right of the line of their parade were 15 members of the Harmony Hose Company of Philadelphia, the oldest organization in Philadelphia, having been organized in 1745.

After going over the line of march, the parade was stopped at the new fire house where the Clifton Heights Hook and Ladder Company housed the new hose carriage.

In the parade, the Council and School Board occupied carriages. After the ceremonies of the housing of the new hose carriage, the company and its visitors returned to Norwood Hall, where a luncheon was served.”
- (Chester Times, November 9, 1902)

The Firehouse was enlarged in April, 1908, and burned as a result of an arson fire on August 2, 1908. The fire hose was cut, and both alarm systems disabled. Two members arrived just in time to save the fire equipment, one of these men was “Pop” McClellan, who later became President of the Fire Company for thirty-six years.

In 1920, the fire company acquired their first piece of motorized equipment, a 1920 Model T. Ford.

The company progressed adding a Reo-Pumper in 1925, a Mack City Service Truck in 1936, and a Ward Pumper and an International Squad Truck in 1947.

In 1955, the town voted for a $58,000.00 bond issue to buy a new Aerial Ladder Truck and a new Pumper, which were placed into service in 1958.

In 1958, the Norwood Ambulance Service was formed by the Fire Company and handled 323 calls that first year.

In 1968, the Firehouse was renovated to its present appearance.

Before its incorporation as a Boro in 1893, Norwood was under the Ridley Township School District. In 1873, Norwood students would have attended a small one-room school house in Prospect Park which stood at the Northwest corner of today’s 13th and Lincoln Avenues. That school was used until 1877 when the first Norwood school house was built. This first school was built in the west end of Norwood and still stands at 648 Chester Pike. It was originally built to accommodate students from both Norwood and Prospect Park and in 1890 an addition was added. By then the Norwood School was just for Norwood students. Ridley Township School District had built Prospect Park their own Elementary School in 1886.

When Norwood became a Boro in 1893, Ridley Township School District gave Norwood the elementary school and Norwood formed its own School Board.

Within 10 years problems arose among Norwood residents. The controversy centered around the school’s condition and location. It was considered far too west for town residents and they wanted a central location. (at the left is a copy of a pamphlet that was distributed by residents discussing these problems and the need for a new school.)

After almost 10 years of arguing, two homes, the Stull and Gutherie on Winona Avenue, were bought and torn down at a cost of over $8,000.00. Ground was broken by John Brown, a Philadelphia contractor, on September 8, 1912, and the cornerstone was laid on Saturday, November 16, 1912, at 3:30 in the afternoon with appropriate ceremonies. The school, 96 feet x 74 feet of Holmesburg granite, was dedicated on Saturday, May 24, 1913. One anonymous Norwood resident bought all the landscaping for the school grounds, while a second bought United States Flags for all the town children for the school dedication.

A large number of the houses in the boro displayed flags in honor of the occasion. The first number on the day’s program was the raising of a fine flag on the school grounds by Washington Camp, NO. 241, P.O.S. of A. from Chester. At 8 o’clock the scholars assembled at the new building and headed by the Norwood Band, marched to the railroad station and met a delegation from Philadelphia after which they marched back to the school building and witnessed the flag raising. Songs, vocal selections and orations were then delivered.”
- (Chester Times, May 26, 1913)

Beginning as far back as 1914, Norwood tried to have a high school. Plans were tried with Prospect Park and then with Glenolden. Once all three boroughs tried to get together on a common high school, but and especially location always got in the way.

The thriving boros of Prospect Park, Norwood and Glenolden, along the Chester Pike have solved the educational problem which has been the topic of discussion among the citizens for some time by deciding to have one large modernly designed school for the children of their own towns. The trio of boros all want a commodious and ornate high school building, saving the taxpayers hundreds of dollars a year.”
- (Chester Times, Spring 1919)

Finally in 1921, the school districts of Norwood and Glenolden Boroughs agreed to erect a high school together to be called “Glen-Nor".

The attractive educational building will cost approximately $113,000.00.

General construction contract was given to H. John Homan Company, Philadelphia; heating, Bowers’ Brothers and Company, Philadelphia; electrical work, Busy and Thomas, Philadelphia, and plumbing, William T. Fowden, the city.

The architects, Clarance W. Braser, this city, with Roger M. Dickhut, Glenolden, as associate, were authorized to prepare contracts with the intention of starting work as soon as possible. Preparations are being made to bread ground with appropriate ceremonies. The building is to be finished by October 1, this year.

The building will be two stories high, with a basement, constructed of dark red brick, with stone door and window trims and copings.

There will be twelve class rooms on the first and second floors and in the basement provision will be made for a chemistry laboratory, biology and physic rooms, together with rooms for manual training and domestic science.”
- (Chester Times, May 24, 1921)

Norwood’s share of the school building expense was $60,000.00. Ground was broken on May 26, 1921 in the evening. Frank H. Roberts of the Glenolden School Board and Robert Lewis of Norwood School Board officiated. School children from both districts with their teachers met at South Avenue and Chester Pike. They marched up South Avenue (it was a dirt road then) to witness the ground breaking. On August 20, 1922, the cornerstone was laid and the school opened for classes on April 3, 1923. A new wing was added in 1927 and the gym was added in 1930. Several more additions were added in the 1950’s.

In 1956, “Glen-Nor” High School merged with Prospect Park High School to form the Interboro School District. Prospect Park High School became the junior high while “Glen-Nor” became the first Interboro High School.

Glen-Nor” was used until 1976 when it was replaced by the current high school on Amosland Road. In early 1990, the old “Glen-Nor” High School was torn down and houses built on the site.

Norwood didn’t appoint its first police officer until September 26, 1895. The officer was James Batty who went by the title of High Constable. Early police patrolled the town on foot at night usually 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Police looked for fire and burglars, plus were required to keep oil lamps clean and turn the lamps on and off.

Over the years the police force grew and although motorized vehicles were available, Norwood police patrolled on foot unless there was an emergency. One of those foot patrolmen was Chief Andrew J. Clothier.

Clothier born in Norwood in 1891 worked at Baldwins, in Eddystone, before becoming a Norwood police officer at age 39. Two years later in 1932 Clothier was appointed to chief.

On Monday night, November 4. 1935, Andrew Clothier was on foot patrol at Chester Pike and Winona Avenue. He was watching for speeders on Chester Pike, because, at the time, all the traffic lights in Norwood were turned off at 10:30 p.m.

At 10:45 p.m., Clothier saw a tuck and a car speeding down the pike toward Darby, and he walked out onto the pike to stop both vehicles.

However, a third car pulled out just as the truck and first car were slowing down. The third car lost control when it saw Chief Clothier, and it struck him broadside.

Norwood resident Fred Richardson was driving by when the accident took place, and helped take Chief Clothier to Taylor Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Clothier, who lived on Mohawk Avenue, left a wife and four children.

Clothier is the only Norwood police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Today the department consists of Chief Raymond T. Dougherty, and 5 patrolmen.

John Cochran gave Norwood its first two parks; Winona Avenue and Huron Avenue, in 1873. Less than 20 years later ownership of the 2 parks was nearly lost to the borough when Cochran sold his Norwood real estate interest in 1883, he failed to file deeds for the two parks.

The parks eventually came into the possession of William Calhoun. Calhoun, a prominent area realtor, then sold part of the Winona Avenue park to St. Stephen’s congregation, as a church site. When workers began digging a basement for St. Stephen’s church, they were arrested and the fight was on. From 1894 to 1899 the battle raged in the courts and in town. The town was divided for and against Calhoun, and the majority were against. The controversy certainly cost Calhoun a chance to be Mayor of Norwood.

The State Supreme Court finally ruled against Calhoun and the town got its parks back. Norwood has 65 acres of parkland today.

BEGINNING IN THE LATE 1870’S, Norwood resident began having impromptu 4th of July celebrations in Norwood Park. By the mid-1880’s, the celebrations had become organized. In the late 1880’s Norwood celebrated with Prospect Park partly to defer expenses. In 1890 Norwood went out on its own with a dawn to dusk celebration. The 4th of July organization grew and was officially organized in 1913 and incorporated in 1926.

The present day organization has over 100 members who raise and spend about $20,000 to fund the annual community service and bad concert plus the all-day Independence Day celebration for all ages.

Funding comes from three sources: annual program ad books, door-to-door collections, and sales of refreshments.

Current officers are Rodger Fredrick, president; Dan O’Kane, vice president; Sue Sakers, secretary, and Joan McVickar, treasurer.The Fourth at Norwood

An ample program has been arranged for the fourth at Norwood. The program includes a flag raising, parade of citizens, school children, Knights of the Golden Eagle, Cadets of Temperance, Patriotic Sons of America, Firemen, et al. honorable John B. Robinson and other gentlemen will make the orations. There will be music by band and singing by the school children of Norwood and Prospect Park. Athletic sports, a game of baseball, and a grand display of fireworks in the evening wind up the proceedings.”
- (Chester Times, July 3, 1890)

The library was originally set up in 1925 at the American Legion Post 507. Some years later, Mrs. W. Rees Dutton, Chairman of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Legion, led a group of concerned and energetic women in organizing a public library using the Legion library as a nucleus.

The School Board gave a large basement room in the Elementary School building at the corner of Winona and Mohawk Avenue, with an outside entrance of its own. Many people today may not realize that this building was ever a school. preparing the room and moving all the books was a big project. Everyone mad an effort to help. Husbands repaired and painted the room and then built shelves for the books. The American Legion, the Century Club and interested friends gave money and books. Borough Council appropriated $350. A year to support the new library. The school provided the heat and light. The women worked to catalog the books. Norwood’s first public library opened on January 5, 1939, with 1800 books. Very few of the books from the original library still exist.

Mrs. Alfred Crooks was the first president of the Library Board. Mrs. Rees Dutton, Mrs. Carl Leech and Mrs. Herbert Glass were members of the first board. Mrs. Dutton presided at the election of officers as late as 1967. In the days before there was an official librarian, these women gave their service: Mrs. David Holmes, Mrs. Harmon West, and Mrs. Bradford Hipple.

In about ten years’ time, the school and the library had outgrown each other. Plans for a new library were begun. The library was moved temporarily into the Borough Hall, and in 1951 the new library on Welcome Avenue was complete.

The Norwood Library has a vast supply of material, and receives an allotment from the borough to help function. The American Legion and Century Club have remained supporters and the Veterans of Foreign Wars has joined this effort, with early contributions.

The younger generation increase brought varied and long lasting responses from borough citizens in the from of youth activities in addition to church and school

Indeed both churches and schools took part in this movement by sponsoring scouts; cub pack and troop 50 sponsored for many years by the Seneca Avenue School PTA were among the oldest Boy Scouts of American groups in Delaware County. Cub Pack 50 was chartered on June 2, 1941.

At one time, there were tow explorer posts, one explorer ship, four Boy Scout troops, and three cub packs.

Girl scouts, founded in 1912, apparently started here in 1948 with Brownie troop 182. The first senior troop in the Chester Pike area is claimed to be the one established for Norwood girls in 1968.

The most recent listing of active troops here includes five Brownie, two Junior, and Cadet, and one Senior troop.

In the early 1950’s, a group of men watched all the boys playing ball in the parks and began giving them instructions. This was the start of things to come. More boys began to show up and it was evident that a Boys’ Club would succeed in the borough. About 1956, a Norwood boys’ Club was organized to field teams of boys from age 7 to 17 in baseball, football, and basketball.

The first meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary was held in March of 1960 with the idea of forming a Girls’ Club for the same ages with an ambitious list of activities including softball, volley ball, swimming, handicrafts, cheerleading, rifle team, and homemaking skills.NORWOOD ATHLETIC CLUB In the early 1960’s, the two organizations became the Norwood Athletic Club which continues activities for boy and girls today.

LEVAN-SMITH-BAIBLEY V.F.W. POST 7213 THIS Post was organized in February of 1946 and was chartered June 9, 1946 by National Headquarters of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kansas City, Missouri. The original charter contained the names of 63 men.

Until 1954, the Post met in various places; a barn on Mohawk Avenue, a basement on Seneca Avenue and a store on Winona Avenue. The Post acquired two lots on Hook road and in 1956, ground was dedicated for a Memorial Home to honor memories of the three men after whom the Post was named.

Ground was broken in 1958 for this Home, as a result of work and cooperation on the part of Post members and the Auxiliary.

The officers for 1992-93 are: Commander Allen Nagel; Sr. Vice Commander Jack Looby; Jr. Vice Commander Edward Gillespie; Quartermaster George Maxwell; Adjutant Dominic Durkin; Chaplain John Sweeny; Judge Advocate Michael Farley; Surgeon Joseph DeCristo; Officer of the Day Roy Atkinson; Service Officer Joseph Webb; House Chairman Hans krizdorn; Trustees William Allen and Charles Evans.

In February, 1920, a group of ex-servicemen met in the Norwood Fire House to discuss the formation of an American Legion Post. These men were: Francis E. Davidson, Harold W. Dempster, Russell T. Haggard, Robert G. Kniedler, George M. Stewart, Paul K. Yeagley, W. Lincoln Paul, Walter R. Clinger, Francis J. Kahlert, Harry B. White, John E. Clinger, John E. Denver, Lidnsay L. Worley, Alfred W. Miller, and Edward Brighton.

George Stewart was appointed Acting Adjutant. A motion was made that the Post be known as “John Wesley Cross Post,” in memory of John Wesley Cross who was killed in service June, 1917.

A temporary charter was received in February 1920. At a meeting held April 5, 1920, the following officers were elected:

Post Commander…………………….Robert G. MacKendrick
Vice-Commander……………………………… Leslie Taylor
Post Adjutant……………………………… Carl A. Baumann
Finance Officer……………………………… W. Lincoln Paul

a permanent charter was received on March 10, 1921, and the Post has continued to grow since this time.

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