Supplemental Content

for the Winter 2021 issue (Vol. 55 No. 4) of the
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society’s History Quarterly
The Devon Inn

Expanded Quote from Devon and its Historic Surroundings by Julius Sachse

DEVON. (p.5 - frontispiece)

ONE of the most striking objects seen by the traveler on the Pennsylvania Rail Road as he speeds on, to or from Philadelphia, through the eastern end of Chester County, is the imposing pile which crowns a spur of the south Valley Hill, sixteen miles west of Broad Street Station.

The quaint gables and tower, the wide sweep of velvety lawn and wealth of shrubbery, the smooth drives and broad walks at once recall an English landscape with its proud baronial Hall. From the flag staff, however, float the Stars and Stripes ill all their beauty, and in front of the building may be seen swinging in its yoke on the post, an old time sign board bearing the name "DEVON INN." Here, during the season, meet representative Philadelphians and travelers from all the cities in search of summer rural comfort.


...It would be a fearful hardship in these days of luxurious railway trains if we were forced to adopt the ancestral methods of locomotion. The spirit of the times has not only taught a speed, but it has schooled us in all the mysterious agencies that contribute comfort and luxury while we travel. It has quickened our perceptions, educated our tastes, and moved us to demand and expect, even in the railway train that carries us, comfort that our forefathers could never have dreamed of.

If the age of the stage coach was the picturesque, so the present day of express trains is the era of luxury.

It is no disparagement to other lines to say that the Pennsylvania Railroad has been the pioneer in improving the railway service of America, and is now the embodiment of all that is progressive, the exemplification of the modern methods of conveying passengers from point to point. The evolution of the stage coach proceeded by slow and halting steps. First there was the tramway, on which the effort was made to propel cars by the use of sails; then came the. utilization of horses as motive power, and finally the crude attempts at traction engines. Each of the methods have seen service on what is the Pennsylvania Railroad of to-day, and from such an humble origin has developed the splendid system of transportation, which is recognized universally as the best managed and best appointed railroad corporation in the world.

Those intending to spend the summer at Devon find ready at hand a train service which would make their grandfathers stare in wide-eyed amazement. There are half-hourly trains from Broad Street, with bright and cheery passenger coaches kept clean and comfortable, andl many trains are expressed through to Devon on quick schedules, few stops, and at so frequent intervals that city people may enjoy all the pleasures of a summer outing, and yet never neglect the supervision of their business affairs.

Such are the means of transportation to the Devon Inn. When we reach it we find a substantial building of stone and brick of large size and quaint design. The rooms are so large as to give spacious accommodation to all the two hundred and fifty guests—and the halls, parlors, reading and smoking rooms and card rooms are all of the most attractive and convenient arrangement. The Inn was built in 1884, and has been a summer residence for a very extensive patronage ever since.

It has all the conveniences and comforts of the best city hotels-including fifty rooms with private bath attached.

Since last season the electric light has taken the place of gas in all the rooms—ministering to comfort and health almost as efficiently as the ample supply of pure water fresh from the Devon Springs, and the wonderfully complete system of hygienic drainage which is in use. The surrounding country is full of beautiful sites for those who fall so much in love with the locality as to 'want to buy land and build for themselves; the Inn is comfortable and filled always in summertime with bright and pleasant people, who find amusement there without toil, luxury without great expense, cool nights, merry days, and good fare at all times.

Shall we not this summer go to Devon and take our ease in our Inn?

The Devon Inn has been conducted since 1882 by H. J. & G. R. Crump, of Philadelphia, and will re-open Saturday, May 28th, for the season of 1892.

H. J. & G. R. CRUMP.

Devon Inn Ice Advertising

After the early days of harvesting natural ice from a lake located approximately one-half mile to the west, the Devon Inn installed an ice making plant for its own use, and eventually increased capacity enough to support sales of ice to local residents. These two 1910 adverstisements appeared in local newspapers.

(LEFT) The Suburban (Wayne Times Edition), Vol.26, No. 14, July 8, 1910, Digital Library, Villanova University. (RIGHT) Ardmore Chronicle, Vol. XXI, No. 44, Saturday, August 6, 1910, Digital Library, Villanova University.

Shantytown Sketches – “The Divil's Inn”

A descendant of several prominent Philadelphia banking families, and an independently wealthy heir to a sizeable fortune, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle was able to freely pursue his varied interests, including the self-publication of several books. It seems likely that he was a regular visitor to the Devon Inn, and familiar with its vicinity. In 1897, he wrote and published a book titled Shantytown Sketches.

While its idiosyncratic and perhaps satirical approach to portraying aspects of the local Irish, German, and African American cultures may be viewed as outdated and objectionable by contemporary standards, it provides an interesting perspective on the pervasive social divisons of those times.

One short chapter presented a fictitious petition written and/or signed by six Irish residents or "Dwellers in Shantytown" after they grew tired of reporters never mentioning the names of their fellows in newspaper society news articles. One particular grievance was the reporting on an event at the Devon Inn, or the "Divil's Inn" as it was called in the speculative dialect, where the journalist had listed the name of every society person in attendance, but not one of those individuals who had served them.

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