Chester County Historical Society
Focusing a spotlight on local history and handicrafts
This gem of a small museum displays its permanent collections as regally and thoughtfully as any major museum. Exhibits afford a glimpse into the life of the early residents, the local iron industry and the artistry of the Welsh settlers who decorated furniture with a unique line and berry inlay design. The History Lab, a large room full of hands-on activities for tots through teens, is especially inviting, with its Chippendale-style chair to construct and a Civil War officer’s coat to don.
The big treat, though, is the special exhibition space. A recent exhibit on Chester County and the Underground Railroad had more than a dozen interactive stations, with an evenhanded historic approach highlighting slaves, slave owners and the complicated residue of their existence together.
The Historical Society occupies two adjacent buildings in downtown West Chester, which were deeded to the society in the mid-1900s. The older is the former Horticultural Hall, the main meeting place in town in the mid-1800s; at the end of the century it was converted to an opera house where Buffalo Bill performed. Connected to it is the former YMCA.
Open Mon – Sat
The talents of local craftsmen are most evident in the outstanding tall-case clocks that are on display here.
Good Kids’ Dtuff
History Lab is a try-it-on, try-it-out gem for children: top hats and hoop skirts to wear, butter churns to work, and mineral samples to feel.