The Philadelphia Main Line Real Estate Agency
We specialize in Ardmore, PA home buying, financing and relocation. Ardmore is located on the Philadelphia Main Line.
Ardmore is both a residential and a commercial center located about 3 miles west of Philadelphias City Line Ave., Rt. 1. In 1870 it was known as Athensville, having been named about 1811 by Dr. James Anderson, a classicist and early physician. In 1873 the Pennsylvania Railroad gave notice that it was going to change the name, and Joseph Lesley, the secretary of the railroad, selected "Ardmore," the suggestion of the Reverend George Anderson, pastor of the Lower Merion Baptist Church.
The Red Lion Inn, built 1796, Located at Lancaster and Greenfield avenues, was a hotel, general store, and center of activity. Closed in 1919, a victim of Prohibition, it was razed in 1941.
Lancaster Avenue, formerly known as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, was the most important highway of the village. During the 1870s the Lancaster Avenue Improvement Company acquired control of the highway as far as Paoli and thoroughly rebuilt and improved it. Tolls were collected along Lancaster Pike until 1917, when the state took over the roadway.
The Merion Title and Trust Company opened for business in 1889 on the comer of Lancaster and Cricket avenues, in a room formerly occupied by Hartley's Shoe Store.
The first fire company in the township, Merion Fire Company No. 1 of Ardmore, began in 1889, occupying a lot on the north side of Lancaster Pike, west of Ardmore Avenue. The firehouse also served as the first township police station. The police department consisted of a chief and deputies mounted on horseback or bicycles.
When Lower Merion was named a first class township in 1900, Ardmore became the center of government. The first Board of Commissioners met and began construction of sanitary and drainage sewers.
Opening in 1900, the Autocar Works was the first large manufacturing industry in Ardmore. The Autocar developed the shaft-driven principle in an American car, and the circulating oil system. The company was the first to build wheels with wooden instead of wire spokes.
Workers from Philadelphia reached Ardmore by the Pennsylvania Railroad or by the Philadelphia and Western Railway, which served Ardmore from the 69th Street Terminal from 1907 to 1966. The handsome P & W station in Ardmore, barely a block from the railroad station on the south side of Lancaster Avenue, has been razed for a parking lot.
In 1901 building continued at a high rate and many businesses began; several operated by succeeding generations were still running in 1981.
Among the well-known landowners in Ardmore were Louis S. Clark, founder of the Autocar Company, who had a home on Old Gulph Road, as did Joseph N. Pew, Jr., an officer of the Sun Oil Company. His brother, J. Howard Pew, at thirty years of age, took over the presidency of the company in 1912 after his father's death. J. Howard Pew, whose home on a high slope overlooked Mill Creek, had already played a major part in the development of petroleum asphalt. Under his leadership during World War I, when the United States was concerned over its loss of tankers, the Sun Shipbuilding Company was organized in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Ardmore opened its first movie theater in 1921 to show Rudolph Valentine, Richard Barthelmess, and Lillian Gish.
Sun Oil Company built its first gasoline station in Ardmore also in 1921 at Lancaster Avenue and Woodside Road.
In 1927 a new idea was put into effect: the development of a variety of shops clustered around a large department store, movie theater, supermarket, and business offices. This was Suburban Square.
The stock market crash of 1929 brought great loss to Ardmore residents. At the time Ardmore had three banks--the Merion Title and Trust Company, the Ardmore National Bank, and the Counties Trust Company--all of which closed. The Autocar Company laid off many workers, and unemployment was widespread. Soup kitchens were set up by church groups, and residents who could provide employment for the needy were urged to do so.
Eugene Jules Houdry (1892-1962) of Ardmore introduced to Sun Oil the first large-scale commercial catalytic cracking plant. "Blue Sunoco" was the first unleaded high-octane gasoline. During World War II 41 million barrels of 100-octane aviation gasoline were delivered for Allied planes.
The Autocar plant closed down and moved to Exton, Pennsylvania, in 1954. A wrecking crew began to demolish the building but on July 31, 1956, a welder's torch touched off the worst conflagration ever seen in Ardmore. The fire threatened to destroy the north side of the Lancaster Avenue business district. All of the township's fire companies fought the fire, assisted by units from Philadelphia. More than a dozen firemen were injured, and it took six million gallons of water to end Ardmore's worst disaster.
On the site of the former Autocar plant, construction commenced for a shopping center, Ardmore West. Completed in 1973, it contained a variety of shops, a bank, and a fast-food restaurant. Many of Ardmore's business establishments modernized their properties and increased their parking facilities. Ardmore celebrated its centennial that year with many special activities.
Suburban Square, fifty years old in 1979, received a face-lift. Introducing a European concept, it acquired an open mall surrounded by small shops. The Movie Theater was converted into market stalls, offering a variety of foods. The square's record as the first shopping center in the world accorded by the Guinness Book of World Records proved erroneous after many years. In the 1979 and later issues Guinness has credited a shopping mall near Baltimore with predating it.