Last week, the Town Tours of Chester County, Pennsylvania visited West Grove. Our group was told that the village of West Grove derived it’s name from the Friends Meeting House on Harmony Road which was built in 1787 on the western edge of London Grove Township. West Grove was separated from London Grove Township and became an incorporated Borough in 1893.
We were invited into the Friends Meeting House by Mary Sproat, a member of the meeting, who explained their history and how the members took the Orthodox side during the "great separation" of 1827-28, which began in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Approximately two-thirds of area members split into a group that came to be called "Hicksite," while the remaining third, eventually known as "Orthodox," espoused a more Protestant emphasis on Biblical authority.
In 1868 Charles Dingee and Alfred Conard of West Grove founded the Dingee & Conard Nursery, a commercial grower of fruit trees, roses and other nursery products. In the late 1880’s the West Grove Post Office was the second biggest in Chester County, largely due to the volume of nursery products shipped by Dingee and Conard (think Knockout Roses). Throughout the early 1900’s, West Grove was known as the “Home of Roses”.
Another prominent event in Borough history was the great “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918-19. Buildings were re-purposed into hospitals to handle patients, as was explained by a resident dressed as a doctor, complete with black bag. We also saw an old firetruck which had been sold many years ago, then donated back to the Borough, which proudly refurbished it. We then had a chance to have dinner at one of the local establishments. We chose pizza on the porch at Brothers Pizza and were very happy with the crispy crusted masterpiece!