Rows of white cardboard boxes lined on the shelves in the mezzanine of the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center are testament to not only a dedicated volunteer’s year’s worth of work, but also the legacy left of an English-born man who left an indelible mark on the city he loved so much.
The Joshua C. Taylor collection at the historical society is a collection of 70 blueprints acquired by its namesake at the beginning of the 20th century that chart the grandiosity of what was to unfurl, and what had been planned, for the streets of Chester and beyond.
In his day, Taylor was a prominent lawyer and bank, involved in many legal and real estate projects in the Chester area.
Over the last year, DCHS volunteer Patrick Janney has been meticulously sorting through the collection to categorize and catalogue the pieces. In September, he was one of the honorees of DCHS’ Lee C. Brown Memorial Award because of his work.
While several of the blueprints may seem of standard variety, perhaps, others demonstrate another vision for the city.
One shows an opulent building complex, spread out in a campus style along the Chester Creek. A large, multi-floored, domed structure seems to anchor the development as various two- and one-floor buildings surround it.
Another blueprint shows the plans for the Edgmont Theatre, an intricately decorated, yet immense center with an enormous flagpole atop and exquisite carvings planned for accentuating its exterior décor.
Taylor himself was born in Rochdale, England and came to the United States with his parents when he was 6-years-old. He attended the Chester public schools and eventually obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan. In 1900, he was admitted to the Delaware County bar.
With Louis Richards, he compiled the “Digest of the Laws and Ordinances of the City of Chester,” which was the first codification of the local laws of the community.
Taylor eventually became president of the Delaware County Bar Association and was one of the organizers and president of the Pennsylvania National Bank. When it merged with Delaware County National Bank, he became its board chairman.
A man of various responsibilities, he always had interest in various aspects of real estate, enjoying the construction phase of development.
The Joshua C. Taylor Collection is housed at the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The museum’s telephone number is 610-872-0502. Parking is free on the society lot behind the building or across the street in the municipal lot.
Membership in the Delaware County Historical Society ranges from $10 for students, $27 for individuals to $250 at the patron level. It includes free admission to the society’s Chester museum and library at 408 Avenue of the States, the society newsletter and preferred reservations and discounts for lectures and events. To join, please visit www.padelcohistory.org or call 610-359-0832.
Shelves of blueprints hold the plans for Chester and the surrounding areas at the DCHS museum.
A large-scale development is among the blueprints in the Joshua C. Taylor Collection at the Delaware County Historical Society.
The blueprint for the Edgmont Theatre is in the DCHS Joshua C. Taylor Collection.