West Chester Receives National Recognition as Distinctive Destination
March 6, 2006
West Chester PA -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation named West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2006. It is the only other community in Pennsylvania to ever receive the national honor. The annual list promotes heritage tourism by recognizing those communities that are outstanding in their historic preservation practices and offering visitors an excellent small town experience.
"West Chester is a wonderful historic destination that has achieved a standard many communities strive to emulate," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "West Chester is a real, living, dynamic town that appreciates and capitalizes on its rich past, while keeping a watchful eye on the future."
It was selected from 93 destinations in 39 states that were nominated by individuals, preservation organizations and local communities.
Although West Chester, a former Quaker town incorporated in 1799, is only 1.8 square miles, it's teeming with 19th-century charm. Nearly 90 percent of the picture-perfect borough with its lovely town center and famed brick sidewalks is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the heart of the Brandywine Valley near three Pennsylvania Revolutionary War historic sites--Brandywine, Paoli, and Valley Forge--West Chester today is a university and residential community with fine examples of Victorian and Greek Revival architecture, including the Chester County Courthouse, designed by Thomas U. Walter, one of the architects of the U.S. Capitol.
The borough's small size means that West Chester is a walkable community, home to dozens of outstanding restaurants, art galleries and retail shops. The History Center and Library, operated by the Chester County Historical Society, showcases fine antique furniture, porcelain, and pewter; the museum's History Lab features more than 40 hands-on exhibits designed to involve all ages in the fun and excitement of uncovering the mysteries of the past. At the American Helicopter Museum located at the Brandywine Regional Airport, visitors can examine vintage rotorcraft and exhibits tracing the history of rotary-wing flight. The West Chester Railroad, one of the nation's earliest railroads, now operates a scenic train between West Chester and the village of Glen Mills, PA.
Nearby, in southern Chester and western Delaware counties, there are numerous attractions to enjoy, including Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine River Museum and the Brandywine Battlefield.
For these reasons, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, added West Chester to its 2006 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States.
This is the seventh time the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced a list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations. To date, there are 84 Dozen Distinctive Destinations located in 41 states throughout the country. To see a complete list, visit www.nationaltrust.org. In each community, residents have taken forceful action to protect their town's character and sense of place. Whether by enacting a local preservation law to protect historic buildings against demolition, rewriting zoning codes to prevent commercial sprawl, removing regulatory barriers to downtown housing, making downtown areas more walkable, enacting design standards, or taking some other major step that demonstrates a strong commitment to their town, residents have worked hard to preserve the historic and scenic assets of their communities, with rewards that transcend town limits.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to saving historic places and revitalizing America's communities. Recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the Trust was founded in 1949 and provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to protect the irreplaceable places that tell America's story. Staff at the Washington, D.C. headquarters, six regional offices and 28 historic sites work with the Trust's 270,000 members and thousands of preservation groups in all 50 states.
To learn more, contact Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director of the West Chester Business Improvement District.
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