History Unlocked – January 2017, Polecat Road House History
Polecat Road House – The Historic Landmark that Started It All – Part I
By: Karen Dingle Kendus, Concord Township Historical Society
As one of the first townships created in William Penn’s Pennsylvania colony, only two years after Penn acquired the land, Concord Township takes great pride in its history.
While there are many historic properties in Concord Township, one of the most prized is that of the Polecat Road House, part of the old Trimble Mill Estate. William Trimble (1705-1795) purchased these 50 acres of land between U.S. Route 1 and Cheyney Road from Thomas West in 1737, and constructed a two-story stone house. The two-story stone house is now part of the Newlin Grist Mill, which had an operating mill by 1704. By the time of his death, William had also built a stone kitchen, a stone smokehouse, a springhouse, a frame barn, a saw mill, and a 1.5 story tenant house, now known as the Polecat Road House. William died in 1795 and passed his estate onto his grandson, also named William. William Jr. (1766-1842) immediately built a paper mill and ran both mills until 1813.
Trimble Mill was leased in 1813 by John D. Carter, who transformed the paper and saw mills into a cotton factory. Carter ran the Trimble cotton factory until 1826, spinning 750 pounds of cotton yarn weekly. The factory was leased to Jacob Taylor and later to Joseph Trimble, and “many others” who are unnamed in records. In March of 1873, the factory was destroyed by fire and the property was sold to General Robert Patterson. General Patterson died, and his estate sold the factory and land to George Rush in 1884. Rush already owned a number of properties in the Village of Concord, where he lived and worked as a merchant. He planned to rebuild the mills with the intention of building a roller skate factory. Rush’s son, George C. Rush, did in fact have a patent for Rush Roller Skates that he acquired in 1879. It is unclear if the Rushes ever manufactured roller skates on this site, though the 1880 census lists George C. Rush as “skate manufacturer.” In 1914, James Getty acquired this property, demolished the factory, and used the land for farming.
Throughout all owners of this property, the Polecat Road House survived. Based on the understanding that the Polecat Road house was built between 1737 and 1795, it is amazing this gem remained. The Polecat Road house is a beautiful example of how working class tenant families lived. It has a simple rectangular shape with a partition in the center to accommodate two families (partition since removed during renovations). There are stairways at either end of the house extending from the basement to the second floor loft and two corner fireplaces built in the Swedish style, where the fireplace rests on logs instead of stones. The house remained occupied for the better part of the 20th century before the surrounding acreage was developed. Today, the Polecat Road House is surrounded by private homes, part of the Fox Valley housing development.
How was an historic home saved from demolition by developers? And what did this historic landmark start? Stay tuned for our next installment of History Unlocked in February 2017.
Case, Robert P. and Virginia M. DeNenno. 1998. Concord Township: Progress and Prosperity in the Nineteenth Century. Kutztown, Pennsylvania: The Kutztown Publishing Co. pp. 111-112
East Coast Geneaology. 2016. Trimble Mills (aka Felton Mills). Accessed: 12/1/16. http://eastcoastgenealogy.com/delaware-county/trimble-mills-aka-felton-mills
** Note on this: This site cites Ashmead’s history, but it is actually almost word for word from John W. Jordan’s A History of Delaware County and its People, Vol I., page 343.
Jordan, John W. 1914. A History of Delaware County and its People, Vol I. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, pp. 343.
Unknown Author. 1991. The Polecat Road House. Pamphlet.
U.S. Government. 1880. 10th Census of the United States of America: Pennsylvania Vol. 32 Delaware (cont.), pp. 715