From a schoolhouse to church to a home

The Jan. 31 Photo of the Week of the small octagonal building at Ridge and Heyburn roads in Chadds Ford Live drew a lot of attention on the CFL Facebook page. There were 18,288 views with two dozen comments. Those comments ranged from curiosity about the property and its history to people sharing memories or what they had been told about the place.

Comments range from the building being a schoolhouse when first built, then becoming a house. Other comments assert it was also a church and used as a hospital during the 1777 Battle of Brandywine. Indeed, it was a schoolhouse and then a house, but it wasn’t built until the late 1830s so it didn’t exist during the battle and couldn’t have been used as a hospital. (That person may have been thinking of the octagonal schoolhouse at Birmingham Meeting.)

According to a Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey form obtained from Chadds Ford Township, the structure “was probably built between 1834 when Public School Act became law and 1839. [The] Latter date is from a recollection of someone who attended the school ‘before the birth of her brother (Sept. 1839).’"

The building was also known as the Frame School because it was built next to property owned by Robert Frame. The resource form says the building was used as a school until 1888 when it was sold to Rev. William Cook for $250 and used as St. Clementine Roman Catholic Church for monthly services until 1918 when it became a private home.

The property was last used as a home by the Powell family until the death of Marjorie Powell in 2005. The structure was appraised at $165,000. The property is currently owned by Smithbridge Partners L.P., of Chadds Ford.

According to Chadds Ford Township Manager Matt Baumann, most of the documents the township has on the property are complaints about it being overgrown.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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