Updated: May 10
- Historic Resources Committee, May 08, 2023
Birchrunville is recognized as the heart of West Vincent Township’s historic 19th century agricultural landscape and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The valley of Birch Run became known locally as “The Hollow” in the 18th century and was a center for mills serving surrounding farms. Nine mills are recorded along its banks in the 1870s, most of which had been operating 60-100 years by that time.
Land within the vicinity was surveyed and leased as early as 1720-25. The earliest surviving dwelling in the vicinity is believed to be a stone cottage c.1740 located at the first bend in Flowing Springs Road north of the creek, now part of a later 1817 house. In 1796, Major John Evans took title to 50 acres on the south side of Birch Run, the location of the current village. In 1803, this plot was sold as eight separate woodlots¾this subdivision was the beginning of Birchrunville. By 1828, five houses are recorded as located within the vicinity of the village.
Schoolhouse and Hollow Roads were part of a stage route running from Yellow Springs to Potts’ Grove (Pottstown). The first store was opened in 1832 along this route on Hollow Road at the eastern end of the current village. Not until the grist mill at the first bend in Flowing Springs Road north of the creek got in full time operation did that road take on importance, and a new store was opened at the southeast corner of Flowing Springs and Hollow Roads, establishing the core of the village at the crossroads.
The new store encouraged the building of homes on small lots east, west, and south of the crossroads. Through the 1840s and 50s, shoemakers, carpenters, plasterers, carriage and wagon makers, a temperance hotel, masons, harness and saddle makers, and a patent medicine maker established themselves here, satisfying the commercial needs of the surrounding five-to-ten-mile area. Families were young according to the 1850 census. They built no more than they could afford, with much trading back and forth of skills.
The village grew from ten houses in 1840 to 22 in 1870. In 1868, a post office was opened in the store under the name Birch Run Ville Post Office. After 1882, the name was spelled as one word. A new and larger school was built in 1863 at the junction of Flowing Springs and Schoolhouse Lane, with a second story added in 1898. Also, that year, Thomas Dewees built the present building occupied by the Birchrunville Store Café on the vacant northeast corner of the crossroads, providing a town hall, post office, and creamery for the village.
The National Register nomination for Birchrunville was prepared in 1992 by historian Estelle Cremers on behalf of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. Birchrunville’s retention of most of its buildings to their size and character of its most thriving years (1840-1920) is the reason for its integrity and historical significance. The Township’s Zoning and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances provide some protections for the village’s character.
Additional information on our Township's history can be found on the Historic Resources Committee page of the Township’s website, including a PowerPoint presentation on the village.
The Historic Resources Committee is seeking volunteers to help in research into the Township’s history. No experience necessary! Just fun. Please contact us at email@example.com, to be connected with a member of the Historic Resources Committee.