Bryn Mawr

Bryn Mawr Local Information

Bryn Mawr History

As is the case with most towns in Pennsylvania, the area of what is now Bryn Mawr was a part of the land charter given to William Penn by King Charles II in 1681. In 1683, fellow Quaker Rowland Ellis purchased 800 acres from Penn in an area just north of the town. Ellis surveyed the land and built a two story stone mansion, which still stands today. After putting his affairs in order back in England, Ellis returned permanently to the area and named his farm Bryn Mawr, (which means great hill in Welsh) after the name of his farm back in Merionethshire Wales.

Many of those early Welsh settlers were family members. Rowland Ellis' uncle, John Humphrey, had an adjoining tract of land that included the ground that is now Bryn Mawr College and the Baldwin School. John Humphrey died childless and his brother Benjamin inherited his 212 acres. In the ensuing years, Benjamin Humphrey inherited another large land grant in the area from another relative. At the time of his death in 1737, he was living in a house on the grounds of what is now Bryn Mawr College. The Humphrey family thrived in the area and the descendants of Benjamin branched out, built homes and businesses, and by 1858, the little town of Humphreyville was a thriving suburban town, nine miles west of the city of Philadelphia. The town consisted of twenty-one houses and a two-story public school house. Additionally, quite a few larger private estates dotted the land close to the town.

In 1832, the Philadelphia & Columbia Railway constructed its "Main Line" between Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1857, the Pennsylvania Railroad Corporation purchased the "Main Line" and all the land that bounded the tracks. Lancaster Pike and Montgomery Avenue as they are today, were the two most important thoroughfares in Humphreyville and these roads framed the lands owned by the "Main Line". In 1869, Joseph Lesley, secretary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, chose new names for the stations along the "Main Line" railway. Instead of Humphreyville, Lesley opted the name of Rowland Ellis' homestead: Bryn Mawr.

By the end of the 19th century, there were approximately 300 homes within a one-mile radius of the Bryn Mawr railroad station making it one of the most populated areas in Lower Merion Township. As prominent Philadelphians began to live permanently in Bryn Mawr rather than simply summering in the area, the demand for the finest schools for their children, health care for their well-being and merchants for their goods increased and Bryn Mawr became a focal point of the now prestigious Main Line community.

Today Bryn Mawr continues to be the center point of the prominent Pennsylvania Main Line. Come to Bryn Mawr and support the local businesses, restaurants and other first class amenities that make this area such a wonderful place to shop, learn, work, and live.