The History of Glenolden

Old Glenolden MapIn 1875, Glenolden consisted of two streets, each only one block long; Marshall Avenue (today’s Knowles Avenue) and Glenolden Avenue. Lots were sold by investors, and custom houses were built.

South of the railroad at Glenolden Avenue were the Glenolden Picnic Grounds, which operated from about 1872 to 1886. The grounds were used by church and civic groups from Philadelphia as a day outing. Groups would take the train to Glenolden Station throughout the summer months. The picnic grounds included a baseball field, a long, circular wooden walkway, and a wooden pavilion for boating. A small photography studio on the grounds made photos available as mementoes of a pleasant day away from the city. IN 1886 the picnic grounds were closed, and the land was developed by the Glenolden Land Association.

Across Chester Pike in 1886, Philadelphia lawyer Henry J. Scott was also at work in real estate. Scott purchased a large part of the George C. Knowles farm for fifty thousand dollars. There, Scott established the town of Llanwellyn (a Welsh word meaning “spring has come”). Scott’s own home, a large house on Chester Pike between Glenolden Avenue and Grays Avenue, was destroyed by fire in the mid 1890’s. Scott planted Lombardy poplars throughout his development and sold lots to various people. Two of his lawyer friends, Charles Eggleston and Glenolden HistoryDavid Caskey, were among those who built custom houses here. Scott sold land in his Llanwellyn Development until his death in 1931. After his death, Scott’s family gave the remainder of his unsold property to Glenolden Borough in lieu of unpaid back taxes. That property became the nucleus of today’s Glenolden park.

The oldest house in Glenolden is the Casper Hahn farm house, which still stands at Chester Pike and Cooke Avenue. The stone farmhouse was built about 1818 and was later owned by Lewis D. Cooke. Cooke sold the property in the early 1890’s to Theodore Lamont, who started the development of Warwick. Warwick also included part of Folcroft.

When Glenolden was incorporated in 1894, Llanwellyn and part of Warwick, along with the Glenolden Land Association, became Glenolden Borough.