A look back at the history of Malvern


In 1681, William Penn entrusted a swath of land from his American land holdings to settlers from Wales. Remnants of this Welsh Tract appear today as near to Malvern as Duffryn Avenue in Willistown, and as far away as Bryn Mawr College or Uwchlan Township. What we now call Malvern was dotted with forests and farmland when the Revolutionary War came through in September of 1777. The land was nameless, sans the moniker of Willistown Township, until the Pennsylvania and Columbia (Lancaster) Railroad came through in the 1830s. For about 40 years, the station that routed passengers and goods south to West Chester from Philadelphia was known as the Intersection, short for West Chester Intersection.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Paoli Battle took place September 20, 1777, on what is now the south side of Monument Avenue between Warren and Wayne Avenues. Fifty-three Patriots are interred in an enclosed common burial place, with the 1817 monument atop the site. The name Paoli was attached to the massacre because the Patriot-friendly Paoli Tavern was located about a mile east of the battle in Willistown Township.

In the 1860s and 1870s, the railroad’s presence was proving to be lucrative, and Quaker businessmen David Evans, his nephew William Penn Evans, and Josiah Roberts bought up parcels in the immediate area. They sold some of their land, built rental properties and businesses on others, and even gave some away to suit their purposes. It was an 1873 Pennsylvania Railroad upgrade that presented us with a name: Malvern.

On August 13, 1889, the Borough of Malvern became its own governmental entity, separate from Willistown Township.

Churches of multiple faiths, more businesses, several civic groups, and many more houses sprung up over the ensuing decades. Today, the 1.3 square-mile Borough of Malvern remains nestled in at the northern border of Willistown Township.