Sunday, March 15, 2020

Please help the 1724 Courthouse in Chester Meetings and lectures cancelled

The 1724 Courthouse still stands in the 400 block of the Avenue of the States in Chester. The above picture is from about 1915. In the late 1850's a new tower with a clock was added to the courthouse roof in. The courthouse was restored to it's original look in the 1920's. See below for another picture after is was restored.

Please help preserve the 1724 Courthouse in Chester

The courthouse was built in 1724 and is the oldest public building in the United States. It is on the National Register.

    In the fall of 2018, The Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission announced that it wanted to divest itself of the 1724 Court House in Chester.  A committee of interested historians and historic preservationist was formed to meet with representatives of PHMC to explore the options that were available to the 1724 Court House.  In the late summer of 2019 PHMC presented a proposal to the County of Delaware in which PHMC would grant the County a 99 year lease for the 1724 Court House.  However, the lease was not executed prior to the election.  After the election the lame duck members of Council did not feel that they should enter into the lease.  
     After the newly elected Council members were sworn in, PHMC requested a meeting with County Council to present and explain the proposed lease.The vote should be coming in the next few weeks we urge all delco residents to contact, email, and call their county council members to have this approved and bring the ownership back to Delaware County.

Below is a letter prepared by Leslie Potter, a longtime delco researcher and historian from Glen Mills. Copy this letter and please send it to county council, with your name and address. The 1724 Courthouse needs your help


The Honorable Brian P. Zidek, Chairman
Delaware County Council
201 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063

In re: 1724 Court House in Chester

Dear Mr. Zidek:

  It is my understanding that Delaware County Council has not responded to a request by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission to meet to discuss the proposed lease of the 1724 Court House to the County of Delaware. I realize that the Delaware County Council is busy with the process of taking over the reigns of government. However, I should like to explain why I feel that the preservation of the 1724 Court House is so very important for all of the citizens of this county.

  The 1724 Court House functioned the court house for both Chester and Delaware Counties, as well as, City Hall for Chester before being restored and used as a ceremonial court room, a teaching facility and an historic site, which was open to the public. The simple fact is that the 1724 Court House is the only historical site in Delaware County that is a relevant part of everyone's history.  It bridges all of our social, economic, and ethnic boundaries.

  Like the President's House/Slave Quarters at 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, the 1724 Court House is a place where everyone, both black and white, as well as, descendants of early settlers and recent immigrants can genuinely feel the historic relevance of this building to their own respective personal histories.  The documents created and recorded in the 1724 Court House demonstrate how the brave people of this county made steady progress moving towards the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence. The 1724 Court House deserves to be preserved so that it can be continued to be used and enjoyed by all of the citizens of this county.

  Although the 1724 Court House was given to PHMC for safe keeping approximately 48 years ago, PHMC has deemed that it is not sufficiently historically significant to warrant PHMC continuing to keep the building. So rather than sell the 1724 Court House to just anyone, PHMC has offered to lease it to Delaware County, for whom it should have the most historical significance. I would urge County Council to meet with the representatives of the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission as soon as possible in order to discuss the proposed lease. Hopefully, the lease will be acceptable to the present administration and thus would insure the preservation of the 1724 Court House for future generations.

Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.

Very truly yours,

cc: Delaware County Council

Below are the emails for the Chairman and vice chair of Delaware County Council.
Please email them with the above letter
Thanks so much
Keith Lockhart


The courthouse after restoration, a postcard from the 1960's

Please visit the Facebook page of DCHPN below for updates on meetings, lectures etc.

Delaware County Historic and Preservation Network (DCHPN)

1 comment:

  1. This is a very important historical site. The first female jury took place here. This courthouse should not be endangered but spotlighted.