I was digging around on West Chester Jim’s history site recently and stumbled on a link for the Pennsylvania Geological Survey’s site for historical aerial photography of Pennsylvania.
In 1937, this is what the crossroads in Exton looked like:
Mostly farm fields and woods. Here’s the same photo zoomed in on the crossroads of Routes 100 and 30 (the Lincoln Highway).
Next I overlayed the same shot with a shot from 1971.
The Exton Square Mall had not yet been developed but the Exton Drive-In is there (can you find it?). Plenty of housing and commercial development are starting to show their marks on the West Whiteland landscape.
The photo below is a shot of The Guernsey Cow around 1974 or 75 after The Exton Square Mall was put in and the K-Mart and Exton Cinema were under construction. My grandfather had this in his office and my older brother has it on display in his home now.
A close-up below shows The Cow property, Sleepy Hollow Hall (aka The Massey House) and The Guernsey Cow sign across Lancaster Highway.
And another overlay below using Google Maps shows the level of development in the crossroads today 30 years later.
The Guernsey Cow property below as it is today as the DNBFirst bank.
16 thoughts on “Exton, PA through the ages from above”
I grew up going to the Cow for ice cream all the time. I remember Willie who made it to the 4th grade with my father and then Larry Polite hired him as a handy man some years later. He always had a great smile and quite a bike that he rode up and down Lincoln Hwy. Does anyone remember what the residential neighborhood at Shoen Road between the Sand Mine and Whitford Road was called in the 50s? I knew a lot of people who lived there and went to Exton School with them. My sister, Barbara McIlvaine Smith, now the PA Legislature from Dist. 156 in West Chester, were arguing..she thinking it didn’t have a name and I remembering it did. Thanks.
Rob McIlvaine – I think I remember you – your family lived out on Rt 30 just west of Exton,if I remember. I went to the Exton (Elementary) School from 1959 through 1965, then North Jr High then Henderson – you may have gone through the Downingtown system, as I believe the dividing line was just a few miles west of the crossroads. I remember running around the Sand Mine with my buddies, Steve Ashbridge, Ted Rogers, and some other kids. There weren’t too many of us. Are you thinking of Buena Vista as the development along Schoen Road?
My dad built our house from land he brought from my grandfather, along the ridge on Route 100. We lived up on top of the hill, next to the Church Farm property.Out my bedroom window I could see all across the valley, from Immaculata at the east, to where Whitford Road cut through it behind the dairy farms. Behind us were the woods for about a mile, then some fields along where Ship Road came down to Rt 100, across from “Marchwood”. We lived on the hill above what is now Wicks Ski Shop, it used to be a State Police barracks for a few years, and before that, the Lindekes lived there – I knew Jeff Lindeke when we were in Elementary and Jr High.
I remember Willie very well – we used to see him all the time riding his bike along 30 and also 100 – remember Max’s Farm Market?
I remember ‘the Cow’ very well – we got ice cream and caramels from there all the time. I even remember throwing up there one time when I pigged out on a bunch of shrimp at my friend Steve’s house and then had a bunch of ice cream. They didn’t mix well. 🙂
My website has some pictures of the area – http://www.jmhare.com/total_recoil/gallery.htm
Exton sure has changed – I hadn’t been there for about 15 or so years, but in 2006 I had some work done by an artist north of Eagle, and we made a few trips through the old township. My parents house and all are totally gone, replaced by a condo/townhouse development, and the Church Farm pasture is now just houses….
Thanks James for the information. My sister wrote to say, “you win…” haha….well, I wasn’t after a win, just a piece of my brain’s contents back from days of old, and thanks your your kind words of remembrance, I have it back.
What a wonderful history of the area through photos! I hope you don’t mind but I shared a photo and about your post and site on my blog as part of a project called Sepia Saturday. You can see it at http://unboxyourphotos.blogspot.com/2011/02/sepia-saturday-2-61-saturday-12.html.
Hi Melissa — Great! Thanks for stumbling by!
Where does the Exton Diner figure into these shots? I know it was at the intersection of 30 and 100, but where is it in these photos? Any info on when it was built (I’d guess 50’s) and when it was demolished? Thank you!
Hi Jackson – not sure about the location of the Exton Diner but found these interesting bits that may indicate that it lives on in a new place: http://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/bostons-former-big-dig-diner-set-to-become-nancys-diner-in-grafton-ohio/ and here: http://www.roadarch.com/diners/oh2.html
You mentioned Willie riding his bike I was friend his bike was his pride and joy he lived in a small room behind the Gurensy Cow my father issued the Exton motel on rt.100 my best friend was the Don of Mr. Political who owned the Exton diner at the crossroad
I lived over the hill and down from Valley drive and above North Ship Rd. next to the New Commen Society. Went to Lionville Elementary and on to Downingtown. My older brother’s first job was at the Guernsey Cow. I used to Fox hunt all through that area and on the Church Farm school. What memories.
1953 my parents owned the exton motel ate many ice cream cones from the cow loved going to the farmers market
I grew up in western Delaware County and recall from earlier days driving out to Painter’s Crossing at Rt. 1 and Rt. 202. From Aston to Concordville/Painter’s Crossing, it was almost all woods, then we turned north, still in farmland/woodland. Other than the 202 Drive-In and Betty’s Ice Cream, that was it until we passed some of the West Chester suburbs and on to this little intersection called Exton. There was, of course, the cow and the drive-in, and the people who lived in this bucolic setting. Contine north and there was another little intersection called Uwchlan. More farms. Then there was a little side road – a right turn off of this 2-lane country road that took us over to the Turnpike. Pottstown Pike then went through Eagle, Ludwig’s Corner, Pughtown, and then on to Pottstown. I relive all of this non-Exton-specific detail because it reminds me of days gone by. Days like all of you describe above. There is so much said in your recollections that doesn’t require words. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean. Exton is still on a map, and has a zip code, but I fondly recall “Exton” and all it represented. Those of you who grew up there, share something very special. I was just a passer-by at the time, (I’ve since lived in Spring City, Glenmoore, and now Guthriesville), and I appreciated your hospitality.
Jim, thanks for taking the time to comment and share your visualization of the drive through Chester County — I greatly enjoyed the ride!
I remember the Guernsey Cow very well as well as Willy with his wild bike and his constant smile. The Exton Diner was owned by Anthony Pilotti. I was friends with his sons Dennis and Kenny. The Exton Drive In was in our back yard and my brother Stephen and I spent a lot of time at the little league field, down the road. Went to st. Philip and James where I was friends with Bobby Jamison and Dave Cerel, whose father owned a drug store, I think. Fond memories.
My parents owned the exton motel I would always go to the cow, and remember willie and his bike, I played with Anthony pilotti’s son and ate at the diner a lot
This was between 1952 and 1954. The drive in was just built when we left. I skated a lot at the exton roller ring. On rt 30. Me and my dad would go to the eagle tavern for steamed claims not sure if it was in exton may have been in paoli
I attended school at St. Agnes in West Chester. My favorite place to go was Downingtown farmers market don’t know how it is now but back in 1950 it was all amish
I lived in Exton for 8 years up until the time my mother died in 1962. We would sit in our backy@rd and watch the king Kong’s and Godzilla’s of the day. Pretty cool for young kids.
I see in a previous post the name Jeff Lindeke (not sure of the spelling). I played little league baseball with him and was playing the day he broke his leg. Went over his house a few times. He had an older brother who was an Arnold Palmer fan. Couldn’t stand Nicklaus. Mother was very nice.