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A Brief History


Stone Arch Bridge over the Perkiomen Creek, Collegeville, PA
Picture postcard courtesy A. J. Zvarick

The history of the Borough cannot be separated from the history of the region. To provide a perspective, however, here is an overview of some of the events that molded present day Collegeville.

1684 "All the land lying on the Pahkehoma" is purchased by William Penn from the Indian Chief Sachem Maughaughsin. The land was subsequently sold to Thomas Rudyard of London.
1698 Edward Lane purchases 2,500 acres from Thomas Rudyard which includes the present day towns of Collegeville, Trappe, Evansberg, and Schwenksville.
1701 William Penn confirms by patent Edward Lane's purchase. Lane builds the original section of what is now the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel.
1708 Edward Lane bequeaths all land lying west of the Perkiomen, including the present day Collegeville, to his son Samuel.
1717 John Jacob Schrack erects a log building just west of the current Collegeville border and becomes the first settler in the present day Trappe.
1728 "All the land lying on the Pahkehoma", originally purchased by William Penn, is released (again) by Delaware Indians for "two guns, six coats, six blankets, six duffel match coats, and four kettles".
1743 Augustus Lutheran Church built in Trappe.
1797 Pennsylvania Legislature approves lottery to raise funds for the purpose of building a bridge over the Perkiomen to replace the dangerous "Phillips Ford".
1799 Perkiomen Bridge completed at a cost of $60,000. The area near the bridge on the lower end of present day Collegeville is now named "Perkiomen Bridge".
1832 Andrew Todd starts the first school for primary and secondary students, 6-12 years old.
1844 Todd School's name changed to Freeland Public School.
1846 Trinity Reformed Church founded by Bishop Abraham Hunsicker.
1847 First post office established in Perkiomen Bridge, Edward Evans Postmaster.
1848 Henry A. Hunsicker builds the "Freeland Seminary of Perkiomen Bridge". Village around the school becomes known as Freeland.
1851 Abraham Hunsicker founds the Pennsylvania Female College.
1861 Post Office moved to the store of Frank M. Hobson at the current street of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. Name changed to Freeland.
1867 Toll house erected on the Perkiomen Bridge. Local citizens throw the gate into the creek and burn the toll house.
1868 First train arrives in Collegeville. Station named "Collegeville" in 1869.
1869 Freeland Seminary purchased by Ursinus College and made into the preparatory department for the new college.
1873 Second toll house erected after a court order that a gate
could not be maintained within one mile of the bridge. Local citizens again burn the toll house.
1875 The Collegeville Independent newspaper founded in Trappe under the name The Providence Independent by Elwood Smith Moser.
1888 Collegeville Driving Park opened for horse racing on the current site of Clahor and Park Avenue.
1891 Collegeville Fire Company organized as a result of a fire at the Collegeville Ice Manufacturing Company and Roberts Machine Company.
1896 Decree issued on June 2nd petitioning the court to incorporate Collegeville. The decree was certified on June 9th. First election held on July 2nd with J. Shelley Weinburger elected as the first Burgess. First telephones installed. First trolley tracks installed.
1897 Council straightens, widens, and macadamizes Main Street with moneys received from trolley operator — the Schuylkill Valley Traction Company. Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Park Avenues dedicated as well as Chestnut Street. Collegeville Borough School at Fifth and Park Avenue completed to replace old school.
1902 Trolley line from Collegeville to Sanatoga and Pottstown completed. Trolley now operates from Philadelphia to Pottstown. Powerhouse built at Collegeville.
1911 St. Eleanor Church founded by Reverend Thomas J. Sullivan. Trappe Fire Company organized.
1933 Last trolley runs through town on September 9th. Schuylkill Valley Bus Company begins service.
1936 Joint Water Authority formed with Trappe Borough
1938 Collegeville Trappe joint school district is formed.
1940 First borough police officer, George Moyer, appointed.
1955 Last passenger train leaves Collegeville on July 15th.
1976 Last freight train passes through Collegeville. Last tracks removed by 1980.
1985 Rt. 422 Expressway - a limited access highway linking King of Prussia and the Schuylill Expressway to Reading - opens in Montgomery County. Rt. 29 exits to Collegeville and Phoenixville.
1991 First Pharaceutical - Rhone-Poulenc Rorer - moves corporate headquarters to Collegeville.
1996 Community of the Borough of Collegeville celebrates centennial.
1999 Collegeville region celebrates bi-centennial of the Perkiomen Bridge.


Bulleted content originally published as "Events in the History of Collegeville" in the program for the Collegeville Centenial - 1996.
Additional content added.

Anarchy in Collegeville
1867 - Toll house erected on the Perkiomen Bridge. Local citizens throw the gate into the creek and burn the toll house.

They're At It Again
1873 - Second toll house erected after a court order that a gate could not be maintained within one mile of the bridge. Local citizens again burn the toll house.

 

Copyright Borough of Collegeville
Saturday, July 26, 2014 09:09AM