History Projects

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Richard Adams - A Civil War Hero - February 2023

BannerOn June 26, 1863, Chester County resident Richard Adams entered Camp William Penn near Philadelphia. He was one of the very first recruits to enter the new military training facility which had just opened to accommodate the influx of African American men enlisting to serve in the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation. During the enlistment process, Richard falsely listed his age as forty. In actuality, he was sixty-three years old. As one of the first men to enter camp, as well as one of the oldest, Richard was prepared to fight and die in the American Civil War to contribute to the abolition of slavery.

Learn more about the story of Richard Adams—a Civil War hero from Chester County—in this new project by the Chester County Archives. Click here to access the project.

A Brick Building on Walnut Street - January 2023

Cover photo Opens in new windowThe Chester County Archives staff regularly receive questions from homeowners asking if a property is “historic.” This is a difficult question to answer because “historic” is a subjective term. In other words, what qualifies something as “historic”?

Look at downtown West Chester, for example. Throughout the borough are dozens of historical plaques acknowledging various buildings, sites, and people. The Bank of Chester County building on High Street, for example, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Just down the block is another historical marker acknowledging the former Turks Head Hotel which operated in West Chester for nearly two centuries before being razed in the 1960s. Both sites unequivocally contributed to West Chester’s development and economic success. Situated directly behind both locations, however, is a three-story brick building on Walnut Street that directly supported both the Bank of Chester County and the Turks Head Hotel. It was built by the bank in 1856 and housed many employees who worked in the hotel’s stables and blacksmith shop. Does this qualify the brick building on Walnut Street as “historic”?

Every building has a history, and therefore, every building is “historic” in its own right. The history of this brick building on Walnut Street offers another historical perspective to West Chester’s nineteenth-century growth and prosperity. Its history reminds us to look past the town’s iconic places and names for new stories and different perspectives. Read more about the history of this property in a new interactive project created by the Chester County Archives staff. Click here to access the project.