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Preserve America Community:
Media, Pennsylvania

The Borough of Media, Pennsylvania (population 5,533), is a suburban community in the Philadelphia-Camden metro area. Media, situated at the highest point in Delaware County and approximately 12 miles from Philadelphia, is the county seat.

Well-known figures in American history such as abolitionist Lucretia Mott, William Jennings Bryan, President Zachary Taylor, and Ida McKinley are connected in some manner with Media Borough.

After receiving the colony of Pennsylvania from England's King Charles II in 1681, William Penn sold a parcel of land to Thomas Minshall, who emigrated from England in 1702. Minshall's farming land was set up outside the town limits of the Village of Providence, which contained a blacksmith, wheelwright, stables, outbuildings, and a few small houses and farmland areas.

The community name derives from Latin for "middle," because of its location in the center of Delaware County. Over time, there was a growing public demand for the county seat to be relocated from its southern location in Chester to a more central site. In response, the Borough of Media was incorporated by a special Act of Assembly in 1850, and the neoclassical-style courthouse was completed the next year.

Media soon changed from pastures and meadows to an elaborate, planned town, with streets spreading south, west, and east from the spot selected for the new courthouse. Businesses sprouted and the population grew.

The past is kept alive today by a new generation of merchants and homeowners whose interest is in preserving and restoring the town's legacy. Many of Media's Victorian homes, built more than a century ago, are still beautifully maintained.

After extensive restoration, the Minshall House, located at Front Street and Providence Road, was deeded to the Borough in 1978. It is now maintained by the Media Historic Preservation Society and is regularly open to the public.

Numerous beautiful buildings, many of which line State Street, were once home to the businesses that began in the late 1800s. Media is also the last suburban town in America with a trolley running down the main street.

One significant historic preservation project in the Borough has been the restoration and adaptive reuse of its 1907 National Guard Armory, an important part of local history that had outlived its original purpose. This effort is part of the revitalization of State Street, the main commercial street in Media.

The old armory now serves as a retail food market, adding to the economic viability of the downtown, and as home to the Pennsylvania Veterans' Museum, a cultural and educational destination. Since the Armory project was completed, the vacancy rate on State Street has gone from 5 to 10 percent to zero. Property values have also increased, as has attendance at events.

Another contribution to the revitalization of Media was the 1995 restoration and reopening of the Media Theatre, renamed the Media Theatre for the Performing Arts. The theatre attracts many visitors who enjoy the varied shops and restaurants, one of which, the Media landmark Towne House, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2000.

For more information

Borough of Media: www.mediaborough.com/default.asp

Walking tour of Media: mediaborough.com/about/walking_tour.asp

Updated May 13, 2009

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