Chester Creek Trail

Rail Trail in Delaware County, Pennsylvania

Historical Churches Around Chester Creek

Mount Hope Methodist Church

4020 Concord Rd, Aston, PA 19014

Morris Mattson built a house located south of the West Branch of the Chester Creek on the east side of Red Hill Road prior to 1769, with his son, Aaron, renting it. In 1773, Aaron purchased the house and property from his father. It was here that the first Methodist gatherings were held in Aston Township.

In 1797, Aaron built a chapel north of his home to support the growing Methodist congregation that had been meeting in his house. It was known as Cloud’s Chapel from the sect in which Mattson was a trustee, or Mount Chapel from its position on the Mount above the West Branch of the Chester Creek.  It was in this building that Francis Asbury, pioneer Methodist evangelist and first American bishop, who traveled over 270,000 miles on horseback with all his earthly possessions in his saddlebags, addressed the young Aston congregation at the invitation of Aaron Mattson.

In 1898, it was decided to replace the old church, and construction was begun on a larger, more spacious facility. A contract for this construction was awarded to Sheaff of Chester, whose bid was $6,679.00. While the church was being built, services were held in a large tent on the site of the present parking lot. In the winter, services were moved to the nearly completed Sunday school room. On April 30, 1899, the new church was dedicated.

Over the years, the sanctuary and vestry of the church had been remodeled, but as the 1960s approached, it was evident that a new sanctuary was necessary to meet the needs of the continuingly growing congregation. Therefore, a new sanctuary was constructed and consecrated on November 13, 1960.

Middletown Presbyterian Church

273 S Old Middletown Rd, Media, PA 19063

Middletown Presbyterian Church was the first Presbyterian church built in Delaware County and dates to the early 1720s. At that time, “dissenters” began meeting first in their homes and then built a log church on a site south of Elwyn on what is now Old Middletown Road in 1729. The first pastor to be installed was the Reverend Robert Cathcart, who served from 1730–1740.

The log church was replaced by a stone building in 1766. The Reverend James Anderson was the first regular pastor here. There was a high pulpit and box pews, and the entrance was probably on the south side, facing present-day Old Middletown Road. During the time of Reverend Thomas Grier, a fire occurred in his house and all the early church records were lost, so little is known today about its early years. On February 1, 1879, the interior of the church itself was destroyed by fire. It was immediately rebuilt.

In 1923, a new sanctuary was built. The original church was then used as a Sunday school. In 1952, a two-story church school was added onto the east end. In 1966, the sanctuary was doubled in size, and a tower was added. At that time, an administration building was also added to the west end.

Saint Frances de Sales Church

35 New Rd, Aston, PA 19014

This Roman Catholic Church is located on the south side of New Road, seven hundred feet west of Crozerville Road. It was started as a mission church from St. Thomas the Apostle Church at Ivy Mills. The cornerstone was laid in 1889, and construction on the church began. Work on the church was interrupted by the great financial panic of 1893. Archbishop Ryan dedicated the church on May 26, 1894, although the building was not completed until 1895. The Reverend Edward J. O’Reilly was the first pastor. He died in 1903, was buried in the cemetery behind the church, and was replaced by Father Michael J. Kane. Father Kane invested much time and energy into keeping the young parish afloat. He passed away in 1910, and after a series of short-term pastors, Reverend William C. Farrell came to Lenni. During his time as pastor, Father Farrell dedicated himself to the children and established a school in the basement of the church. In the early 1920s, Father Dougherty succeeded Father Farrell.

Father Dougherty bore the burden of enormous debt at the onset of the Great Depression, but due to failing health, he passed that on to Father Joseph McDowell. Father McDowell in turn passed it to Father Thomas Colahan, who bore that burden until he was replaced in 1937.

Beginning in 1960, the church went through a period of building. A convent for the nuns and a field house for the children were constructed on the east side of New Road. During this time the old rectory was demolished, and in 1968 a new rectory for the priests was built on the site of the old rectory on the west side of New Road. All this was under the guiding hand of Father Joseph G. Martin, who began his mission as the pastor of Saint Francis upon the retirement of Father Colahan and continued it until his retirement in 1973, at which time Father Thomas F. Walsh took the reins for a year before turning them over to Father Joseph E. Walsh in 1974. During his time, Saint Francis was Father Martin, and Father Martin was Saint Francis. He was involved in every aspect of the church and school.

In 1990, Father Charles P. Vance succeeded Father Walsh. During the 1990s, the cemetery was extended, the parking lots were expanded, lighting was installed, various walls were repaired, stairways were rebuilt, new stained-glass windows were installed, a new meeting room was created in the rectory, a kindergarten was established in the church basement, and a new building was built to house the school library and computer center.

Village Green Methodist Church

3130 Pennell Rd, Aston, PA 19014

In 1860, a vote was taken on rebuilding the Mount Hope Methodist Church or remodeling it. The majority voted for remodeling. The minority withdrew from the church, and in August of that year they built their own church on the east side of Pennell Road. Services were held here until 1865. In that year, the property was seized by Sheriff Caleb Hoopes and sold to Richard Sommers Smith the following year.

Once again, it was seized due to debt, and in 1871, it was sold to Sallie K. Crozer, who transferred it to the Delaware County Baptist Mission. For the next ten years, the Crozer Theological Seminary of Upland conducted a mission there. It continued as a Baptist church until 1914, when it was sold to the Village Green Grange, which operated it as a public hall.

Beginning in 1947, the Grange Hall served as a home for the newly founded St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church with Father James A. Donnelly at its head until a sanctuary was built in 1949. Over time, a third story was added, and it was eventually remodeled into an apartment complex and continues to serve that purpose to this day, with businesses on the first floor and rooms to let on the top floors.

Crozerville Methodist Church

667 Mount Rd, Aston, PA 19014

On November 18, 1851, the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Crozerville United Methodist Episcopal Church was held in the Parkmount Public School. At this meeting, the organization of the church was affected when John P. Crozer donated ground on Mount Road for a church building and generously subscribed to the building fund. Eighty men, women, and children formed the congregation of this new church.

In the beginning, meetings were held in Taylor Town, now called Lenni, at the Temperance Hall. On June 27, 1852, the Reverend William M. Ryan dedicated a new church, located on the north side of Mount Road, about six hundred feet east of Convent Road. Because of the sincere interest and the generous gifts of John P. Crozer, a petition was made to the Philadelphia Methodist Episcopal Conference to change the name of the Rockdale Methodist Episcopal Church to the Crozerville Methodist Episcopal Church, and this was accomplished on February 19, 1853. This petition was granted, and a charter was given to the church in December 1860. In 1876, additions were made to the church, and a parsonage and carriage sheds were built.

For many years, this little church served the spiritual needs of its local congregation. But with time, the congregation grew too small to support the financial needs of the church, and it was forced to close its doors. The last service was presided over by Pastor Karen Sadvari and occurred on September 29, 2013. Today it serves as the studio of local artist Jay Walker, who purchased the church and parsonage.

Calvary Episcopal Church

2131 Mount Rd, Aston, PA 19014

This church, located on the east side of Mount Road about one thousand feet south of Pennell Road, had its beginning in a Sunday School that Richard Sommers Smith established in the upper story of his nail mill in 1833. Under the direction of Smith as superintendent and his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughters, Clementina and Harriet, as teachers, the first religious instruction in the Episcopal faith was begun in Aston. As the Sunday School met with rapid growth and as the nearest Episcopal Church at that time was in Chester, it was resolved to form an Episcopal Church at Rockdale.

In 1836, the cornerstone was laid. It had cost two hundred and fifty dollars to erect the church and one hundred dollars for the lot on which it was built. Interestingly, the shaft of the outdated waterwheel from the old nail mill was used as the main beam in constructing the church. In 1845, the Church was presented with an additional acre of ground. In 1857, a clock was added to the church steeple and later removed. In 1868, two wings and a chancel were added, giving the church the physical shape of a cross. In 1897, a new rectory was erected. Since then, additions have been made as necessitated by a growing congregation and Sunday school.

In 2014, this church merged with St. James Episcopal Church of Aston and formed the new Resurrection Episcopal Church.