From the Media By-pass that divides Upper Providence Township, passengers see a little beyond the trees that buffer homes from the hum of rushing traffic.
The narrow stretch of land between two rushing waters, now called Ridley and Crum Creeks, yielded all the natives needed for food and home. It was an open and free land.
Three-hundred years ago, early settlers, Swedes and Welsh came seeking the same life as the Lenni-Lenapes - peace, freedom, and a place to celebrate their culture, to worship their God. Leaders including William Penn and George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends, found a place to build new lives in an open society under the "Providence God". Soon they established the concept of land ownership with its legal requirements: road building, courts and taxes. Without a system of currency, land was money and money was land.
Those with special skills provided services for the community. Some became blacksmiths, educators, merchants and tanners. With water as power, enterprising citizens built mills to grind grain. Most famous was Sycamore Mills or Bishop's Mills built on Ridley Creek in 1718. Others were Robinett Grist Mill (1687); Malin's Grist Mill (1770); Register's Nail Factory (1812); and Palmer's Mills (1802).
The Society Friends' desire for fine education led James Turner, a resident Quaker, to provide for education in his will of 1787. The money established Blue Hill School near Chapel and Providence Roads. Sandy Bank School was opened in 1836. rebuilt 1905, the building was enlarged in 1926. lower Banks School was built in 1872. And the Rose Tree Union School District was established in 1947. a library was opened at Bishop's Hills (Sycamore Mill Rd.) in 1813. Named the Union Library, it had eight hundred volumes on its shelves by 1843.
Inns and taverns became hospitality centers for travelers, gathering places for the public, and convenient venues for town meetings. Peter Worrall's Mansion and the Rose Tree Tavern, built in 1739, were major attractions in this areas history.
Late in the 19th century, city dwellers escaped summer heat, coming to Upper Providence Township to stay at family run hotels like the Idlewild, established by the Hawkins family in 1871. Guests would hire coaches to attend steeple chase races and fox hunts at the Rose Tree Hunt Club (approximately 1859). The club moved to its own building. Next to the Inn, and finally to a farm behind the tavern, now within Rose Tree Park.
The Rose Tree Tavern was painstakingly moved away from the corner of Rose Tree and Providence Roads to allow for future road improvements. The building has been beautifully renovated and is the new home of Delaware County's Brandywine Conference & Visitors Bureau.