Lower Merion Township Community Information

The communities of Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Haverford, Merion Park, Merion Station, Narberth, Penn Valley, Villanova and Wynnewood share history and culture, though each has developed its own personality.

Ardmore is best known for its historic, turn-of-the-century downtown area. Several of the businesses there today were established in Ardmore’s earliest years and are still run by the same families. The business district is a wonderful place to explore local dining, boutique shops and antiques.

Bala Cynwyd was originally settled by hard-working Welsh Quakers and remained a rural area until the railroad was built. The Schuylkill Valley Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad named its two local stations Bala and Cynwyd, coining the community’s name. Over time, the farms and mills that populated the region developed into the pleasant suburban neighborhoods of today. Local landmarks include the Merion Friends Meetinghouse and Lower Merion Academy.

Bryn Mawr, home of Bryn Mawr College, is characterized by historic estates and a charming town center. Restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques provide plenty to do on a leisurely afternoon. The main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, the R5, winds its way through all of the towns.

Gladwyne is the oldest village of Lower Merion, originally inhabited by Lenni Lenape Indians and then later by Welsh Quakers. The community grew on the strength of the local mills until the late-19th century when floodwaters damaged many of these facilities. As with all the Lower Merion neighborhoods, Gladwyne residents take pride in the local history and their family-oriented lifestyle. The community has several places of worship, public play facilities, and a small retail and business presence.

Haverford is the location of Haverford College, another local, private college. The residential areas consist of large homes and a few apartment and condominium complexes. There is a business district along Lancaster Pike and easy access to a commuter rail line that provides transportation into the city.

Most of Lower Merion has ties to the early Welsh settlers, but the community of Merion Park also represents America’s earliest days of independence. Washington’s Continental Army was believed to have camped in the area in 1777; rusty weapons and other remnants of the soldiers’ presence have been found in the area. Merion Park was also the location of the Belmont Park Race Track, once the center of the local culture. Today Merion Park is a calm and residential community where many of the streets are named after generals from the Revolutionary War.

Narberth is a very small community, which can be traversed on foot. Retail shops, parks, places of worship and the public school are all conveniently situated within about a half-square mile. Despite its compact size, Narberth has adequate recreational facilities for a much larger community, including lighted courts, athletic fields and Candy Cane City, a shady play area. The community recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its incorporation as a borough.

Penn Valley properties offer lush landscaping and views of the Schuylkill River. The community is situated between Bala Cynwyd and Gladwyne and was once comprised of huge estates owned by affluent families. An example is Pennshurst Farm and its 75-room mansion, complete with gardens, terraces and fountains. The farm was once the largest property and primary landmark of Penn Valley, home to cattle, sheep and chickens. Eventually, through a series of transactions the mansion was demolished and the land subdivided into private residential lots.

Villanova is primarily a college town, home of Villanova University. The university offers a private, Catholic education that focuses on Augustinian traditions. Homes in this community are expansive and impressive to the passersby. Some of the larger estates are located in Villanova.

Wynnewood is also primarily residential, but it does have a small business district. Those who follow the Nobel Prize will recognize Wynnewood as the hometown of Lawrence R. Klein. Klein won the Nobel Prize in 1980 for his statistical work, which he applied to economic forecasting. Some landmarks to see in Wynnewood are The Owen House on East Montgomery Avenue and the English Village. The Owen House was built of stone in the late-17th century; the village is a cluster of Cotswold village-style homes designed by architect Arthur Love and built by his brother Donald in the 1920s.

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