After receiving the colony of Pennsylvania from England’s King Charles II in 1681, William Penn sold a parcel of land to Thomas Minshall, who emigrated from England in 1702. Minshall’s farming land was set up outside the town limits of the Village of Providence, which contained a blacksmith, wheelwright, stables, outbuildings, and a few small houses and farmland areas.
The community name derives from Latin for “middle,” because of its location in the center of Delaware County. It is also situated at the highest point in Delaware County and approximately 12 miles from Philadelphia. Over time, there was a growing public demand for the county seat to be relocated from its southern location in Chester to a more central site. In response, the Borough of Media was incorporated by a special Act of Assembly in 1850, and the Greek Revival courthouse was completed the next year.
The beauty and healthfulness of Media, the picturesque surrounding hills and valleys, the fact that the sale of liquor was prohibited in the borough from the start, and its easy accessibility from Philadelphia caused many people to seek summer homes in the town. For those just looking for a respite from the city there were spacious “country houses” that took on guests.
In this tradition of recreation and leisure our walking tour will begin at the Media Theatre on State Street in the eastern end of town...
104 East State Street
Built in 1927 by Samuel Dembow as Media’s third and largest movie theatre, it was designed by Louis Magziner as a Beaux Arts structure with Art Deco design elements. The interior was decorated in the English Renaissance style by Harris Brodsky. The theatre opened in August 1927 with a screening of The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, the first motion picture with sound. Admission was 25 cents. The theatre served for nearly 75 years as a movie palace displaying the magic of motion picture to generations of Media residents before Walter M. Strine converted it into the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts in 1994.
Media High School
northeast corner of East State Street and Monroe Street
Constructed in 1914 of local granite schist stone in Tudor Revival with strong medieval details, this was the Media High School through 1966. It was formerly the site of the county poor farm and the famous Shortlidge Academy for Boys.
12 East State Street
Built in 1908, the raised two-story Tudor Revival with flying Buttresses was headquarters for the Cooper Rifles, a military unit which was organized in 1877. It later housed Company M, 111th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard which left Media as a body in 1917 to serve in the First World War. It was designed by renowned architect William S. Price and M H. McClanahan. Price is recognized as one of the fathers of the “Modern School” of American architecture.
southwest corner of State Street and Jackson Street
John B. Robinson, a Congressman and local political figure, who was editor of the Media Ledger, a well known weekly newspaper at the turn of the century built this in 1895.
Old Media Borough Hall
1 West State Street, northwest corner of State Street and Jackson Street
In the days before the creation of the town, today’s central location was the site of the Way Homestead, one of Media’s original farms in 1850. Isaac Chalfont later built a livery stable here with stagecoach service to Chester. The fare was 25 cents one way. The present Neoclassical building was constructed as a post office in 1918. In 1969 it was converted into municipal offices and police station. Today it functions as a restaurant.
TURN RIGHT (NORTH) ON JACKSON STREET. TURN LEFT ON FRONT STREET.
south side of Front Street between Jackson and Olive streets
This typical block of Media row homes dates from 1880. They retain original brick walks and facades.
TURN RIGHT ON OLIVE STREET.
east lawn of the Delaware County Court House
This granite infantryman stands as a memorial to the Delaware County artillery, navy and cavalry - and the “patriotic women who aided the defenders of our country” - during the Civil War. The monument was dedicated in 1885.
RETURN TO FRONT STREET AND TURN RIGHT (WEST).
Delaware County Record Building
112 West Front Street
The row of brick buildings between South Avenue and Olive Street and South Avenue was Media’s first office district and dates from the 1850s. Number 112 in 1878 was the home of the Delaware County Record, a widely known and respected weekly newspaper of the period. The Delaware County Record was established by J. W. Batting & Co., the company being C. D. Williamson and Joseph Chadwick, on March 23, 1878, as an independent local newspaper. Originally an eight-column paper, twenty by twenty-seven inches, page measure, it was so successful that the proprietors enlarged it to nine columns in less than a year from the time it was started. This block is now a borough historic district and retains the atmosphere of Media’s early days.
RETURN TO OLIVE STREET AND TURN RIGHT (SOUTH). TURN RIGHT (WEST) ON STATE STREET.
101 West State Street
Isaac Haldeman, first president of Media Borough Council, built this grocery and dry goods store in 1854. Haldeman was one of the original movers in the establishment of the First National Bank of Media, was a member of its board of directors, and its president from the day of organization until his death. The bank was organized February 22, 1864, chartered March 12th, and opened for business on March 21st in the second story of Haldeman’s store building.
Burdsall & Adams Cigar Factory
106 West State Street
In 1900 this was Media’s leading industry, employing fifty people. The famous Burdsall & Adams cigar cost 5 cents. The building dates to 1879.
First National Bank of Media (Provident National Bank)
114 West State Street
Designed by Albert Dilks and constructed in 1900, the first permanent home of the First National Bank of Media is a landmark example of the rare Chateauesque style, with numerous stylistic references to French Renaissance and Richardson Romanesque detail and form. The great bronze doors at the front are original.
115-117 West State Street
This commercial building dates to 1895 and the facade features tiers of Romanesque arches and broad corner quoins.
northwest corner of State Street and South Avenue
Dating from 1849, this was the first commercial structure erected in Media and continues in business use today. The lot on which it is located was purchased for $367.50 during the original sale of ground in Media by the County Commissioners.
TURN RIGHT (NORTH) ON SOUTH AVENUE. WALK UP THE EAST (RIGHT SIDE OF THE STREET).
Delaware County Institute of Science
northwest corner of South Avenue and Jasper Street (Veterans Square)
The first meeting of the Institute was held in Upper Providence on the 21st of September, 1833, by five persons - George Miller, Minshall Painter, John Miller, George Smith, and John Cassin. An acre of land was purchased near Rose Tree, and in 1837 a two-story brick building was erected, which was formally opened in September of that year, upon which occasion an address was delivered by Dr. Robert M. Patterson, then director of the United States Mint. The present three-story temple-like Greek Revival brick structure was built in 1867. Dr. George Smith was president from the first till his death, February, 1882.
Delaware County Court House
Front Street at the head of South Street
The original section was completed in 1851 with one courtroom. The structure was later expanded and altered in 1871, 1913 and 1929. It is generally regarded as one of the handsomest court houses in the eastern United States. William Jennings Bryan once orated from the front steps and Ronald Reagan also spoke here.
TURN AROUND AND WALK DOWN THE EAST SIDE OF SOUTH AVENUE.
South Street between Jasper and Front streets
This was the first business district of Media, occupied by lawyers and early merchants in 1850. An early photographic studio, Thompson’s Daguerreotypes, as well as a druggist and chemist were located here.
Plymouth Hall (Charter House)
corner of State Street and South Street
This house, one of the notable institutions of Media as a place of happy entertainment for “the wayfarer and the stranger,” was a monument to those zealous friends of temperance who triumphed after a hard fight and made the prohibition of the liquor traffic one of the provisions of the town charter.
TURN RIGHT ON STATE STREET.
Delaware County American Building
212 West State Street
The first newspaper in Media was The Union and Delaware County Democrat, a small sheet started prior to June, 1852, by Charles B. Stowe. The town was then quite small, and it is not strange that the obituary of the little sheet should have appeared in the Republican as early as Dec. 29, 1854. It read as follows: “DEAD. - The Union and Delaware County Democrat, published at Media in this county, has adjourned sine die, its editor having removed to West Chester. A good opportunity is now presented to an enterprising man with a few thousand dollars, who desires to embark in the printing and publishing business.” The next newspaper venture in the new county-seat was destined to be a more successful one, and to result in the permanent establishment of the Delaware County American. The paper was started as the Media Advertiser by Thomas V. Cooper and D. A. Vernon on March 1, 1855. Its politics were Republican. The publication office was here on State Street.
216 West State Street
This was originally the German bakery of Christian Schur in 1892 and later purchased by Harry Engle who baked bread, cakes and confectionary here. Homemade ice cream was 5 cents a plate.
TURN RIGHT ON ORANGE STREET.
southwest corner of Orange Street and Front Street
Built in 1850 by Charles R. Williamson, a borough councilman and businessman. The Federal-style house has been used as a residence, post office, grocery store and shoe factory during its history. The structure was restored as law offices in 1976.
RETURN TO STATE STREET AND TURN RIGHT.
330 West State Street
This was the first home in Media of Thomas V. Cooper, state legislator and president of the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1878. This house was built prior to 1870. Number 330A was later used as an office by Dr. Philip Jaisohn, a famous Korean patriot and founding father of Korean independence from Japan. He settled in Media after service as a medical officer in three wars for which he was commended by Congress in 1946.
331-341 West State Street
One of the last undisturbed blocks of old Media, Nos. 331-341 were built between 1855 and 1873.
TURN RIGHT ON LEMON STREET.
First School House
8 Lemon Street
In 1853 a small brick school-house was erected here, which was the first in the new town. Media became a separate school district early in 1856 and a new school was ready in 1860. The lot and building were sold to Charles R. Williamson for five hundred and fifty dollars.
TURN LEFT ON FRONT STREET.
West Street at the head of Front Street
Built in 1873 it was the home of John M. Broomall, a county judge, Civil War Congressman, and friend of Abraham Lincoln. It is a typical Victorian estate house of the latter half of the nineteenth century.
TURN LEFT ON WEST STREET. TURN LEFT ON BALTIMORE AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON ORANGE STREET.
216 South Orange Street
Built in 1890 by John Biddle as a Queen Anne summer cottage, it was designed by Addison Hutton, a famous Quaker architect of the Victorian period. This site was once part of the John Hill farm, one of the original properties composing what is now Media. H. Jones Brooke purchased the ground and erected the Brooke Hall Female Seminary in 1856, one block to the west. It’s most famous graduate was Ida Saxton, wife of President William McKinley.
311 South Orange Street
During the summer of 1853 the first Episcopalian religious services in Media were held in the court-house, then recently built. From that time until the present church edifice was constructed services were held in the courthouse and in the Methodist Church. The corner-stone of the present church
edifice was laid July 5, 1858.
RETURN TO BALTIMORE AVENUE AND TURN RIGHT.
117 Veterans Square
The Towne House was founded in 1951 by Silvio “Babe” D’Ignazio. He acquired the nickname as either the youngest child in an Italian family or for his exploits on the football field as a center for the Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University) where he was as strong as Paul Bunyan’s blue ox, Babe. It was only one small row house at the time, but new rooms were added over the years. After D”Ignazio passed away in 2008 at the age of 90 the road in front of the Towne House was re-christened “Babe’s Way.”
Media Presbyterian Church
30 East Baltimore Avenue
The church - Media’s first - was built on one of two lots donated to the church by Mr. John Beatty from 40 acres he had purchased in 1853. On October 11, 1855, the Media Presbyterian Church, designed by Philadelphia architect John McArthur, was dedicated. The church operated in the beginning as a mission of the Middletown Presbyterian Church. The total cost for construction was $10,500, financed partly through contributions with the balance of $3,500 paid for by the Presbytery of Philadelphia. The money promised by the Presbytery of Philadelphia was eventually paid but only after a long delay. Reverend Dale mortgaged his home and personally carried the debt for a long time. This was done so that the contractor could be paid and the construction of the church proceed without interruption.
TURN LEFT ON CHURCH STREET. TURN RIGHT ON STATE STREET.
SEPTA Trolley Line
Media is the last suburban town in America with a trolley running down its main street.
RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE MEDIA THEATRE.