The first people in this area were the Lenni-Lenape
Indians, who inhabited the Schuylkill watershed
long before European colonization. The first non-Native American, arriving in
the late 1600s, was a French Canadian fur trapper named Pierre Bezallion. The
Leni Leanpe, who hunted and fished in the area, traded with Bezallion. As a result, William
Penn called upon him when needed to act as an arbitrator in Indian affairs.
Bezallion used a natural cave that was in Spring City to store his furs and to
stay over when he was trapping in this area. However neither he nor the Indians
made this area their permanent home. Pierre Bezallion died in 1740 and is buried
over in Compass (near Coatesville).
this area was settled it came to
be referred to as “Pump Town,” so
named due to a public pump frequented
by citizens and visitors. The early
residents had quite a battle over
settling on an official name. There
was a group who fought for the
name “Pumptown” and
others who liked Jamestown. Eventually
the natural springs in the area
proffered an obvious name and “Springville” was
chartered on August 12th, 1867.
Yet even this choice wouldn’t
stand as it was discovered that
Pennsylvania already had a “Springville ”.
So, in 1872 the name was changed
to Spring City.
was the opening of the Schuylkill
Navigation Canal in 1824 that
can be directly attributed to the
early development of this small
town. In 1840, the first bridge
to connect Spring City to Royersford
across the Schuylkill was completed.
It was a covered wooden bridge.
Canal born industries such as the
American Paper Company and the
Spring City Stove Company were
operating as early as the 1850’s
and people were coming to live
in Springville. As the people came,
with them came the houses, churches,
schools, and of course local government.
Other industries such as glass
making and knitting mills would
Main Street was the center of activity in Spring
City. It was where the businesses, stores and banks were located. The National
Bank of Spring City, The Gem Theatre, the Spring City Hotel, and Mowery-Latshaw
Hardware were but a few of the many establishments that were downtown on Main
Street. Spring City had a large industrial development at the lower end of town
on South Main Street and the Valley Forge Flag Company on North Main at the foot
of Yost Avenue. The Spring City Hotel is located downtown at the corner of Main
and New Streets. The cornerstone for this hotel was laid in 1892. When it was
completed, it was the show place of the town. The hotel had gas and electric
lights, flush toilets, and hot and cold running water in the bathrooms. This
hotel is still in operation today and features a dining room and cocktail lounge.
The Spring City National bank first opened for business in 1872. The building
is still in existence today and is now a private residence. The Valley Forge
Flag Factory was at the corner of Yost Avenue and Main Street in Spring City.
The company began operation c.1932 in Spring City when the property was acquired
from the Reiff shirt factory. Although flag manufacturing has ceased in Spring
City, today the buildings have been given a new lease on life as the Flag House
apartments for senior citizens.
1864 a Post Office was opened
in Spring City. John Sheeler
postmaster and the office was
located on the west end of the
in the vicinity of the current
day Turkey Hill store. 1884,
the Pennsylvania Railroad was
from Reading to Philadelphia,
with a station stop in Spring
This obviously gave the Reading
Railroad in Royersford some competition.
In 1899, the Spring City Trolley
would begin operations. The trolley
traveled from Spring City to
Phoenixville and made many stops
on its way,
one being the Bonnie Brae Amusement
Park. Trolley service continued
until the great trolley accident
on July 8th, 1924. The end of
the trolley spelled the end of
Brae and the end of an era.
first public school in Spring
City was held at the Lyceum building
at Hall and Main Streets. In
1849, classes were moved to the
Union Meeting House and later
to a small school building behind
the old Lutheran Church. It was
not until 1872 that the Church
Street School was constructed.
This brownstone building was
enlarged in 1892 and was big
enough to house all 12 grades.
In 1929, the high school on New
Street opened, and the Church
Street School became a grade
school. Both of these buildings
are now gone. In 1955 the jointure
was formed with Spring City and
Royersford becoming part of the Spring-Ford
Area School District . A
new elementary school on Wall
Street was opened in 1960 and
a new high school on Lewis road
in Royersford opened in 1959.
The senior high scool now occupies
a new building across the street
from the one built in 1959.
Mechanics Hall is the second oldest public meetinghouse
in Spring City. Located at the bottom of Hall Street across from the firehouse
it is now known as the Tall Cedars Temple. This building was constructed in 1852
and was used by many organizations. Several churches, including the Lutheran
and Reformed, held services there before their houses of worship were completed.
1882, the Spring City Borough Council
purchased a new firefighting apparatus
from the Silsby Manufacturing Company
in New York at a cost of $3600.
This action was a result of a fire
that destroyed the Shantz & Keeley
Stove Works in July 1881. The Liberty
Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1,
a volunteer firefighting organization,
was incorporated in 1882. The firehouse
was built at the bottom of Hall
Street in 1892. The firefighters
today are still volunteers.
Horse racing began in 1893 as the Spring City
Driving Association acquired a large property on Wall Street. There were grandstands
and stables on the grounds. Racing and horse shows were held regularly in the
1930s and 1940s. This track was located on Wall Street, where the Spring City
Elementary School now stands. The property was vacated and sold to the school
district in 1958.
Pennhurst State School and Hospital
in Spring City was opened in 1908.
Sitting high atop Crab Hill, looking
down on the Schuylkill River, it
was a community that was separated
from the rest of Spring City. A
sprawling complex of red brick
buildings, it included a dairy
farm, power house, green houses,
movie theater, laundry, cafeteria
and many other facilities. Pennhurst
was a State Institution for the
mentally handicapped and at one
time had more than 3000 patients.
The hospital has been closed, and
most of the buildings remain empty
today. The New Horizons building
on the upper campus was completely
renovated and is now the main building
of the Southeastern Veteran’s
City has a rich history. At the
turn of the 20th century it was
a growing, vibrant and complete
community. There was all of the
industrial development, agricultural
development, and commercial enterprise
needed to support a growing town.
Schools, churches, and numerous
social organizations were growing
with the population. For recreation
there were two movie theaters on
Main Street, an amusement park
just outside of town that could
be easily reached with a short
trip on the trolley. Horse racing
at the track on Wall Street was
also very popular and attracted
people from several nearby states.
The canal was used for boating
and fishing during the summer months
and ice skating in the winter.
Trains ran on a regular schedule
for those wishing to travel to
Reading or Philadelphia and beyond.
progress and the passing of time
has changed the face of Spring
City, the 21st century brings promise,
as the citizens who live here today
are infused with the spirit and
resolve of those who originally
William C. Brunner