History

Picture postcard of Marshall Square Park, postmarked Nov. 6, 1906.

To Mrs. Edwin Morrison from her friend—
“Will look for you Thursday.  Doll”

Susan McGovern discovered the card in an antique sale and shared it with FMSP.

See old photos of the fountain

Marshall Square Park was modeled after Washington Square Park in Philadelphia.

Arboretum to Public Park
Botanizing was a favorite avocation of West Chester’s professional men, some of whom attained international recognition. Dr. William Darlington, Joshua Hoopes, and David Townsend were such botanizers, and they succeeded in having this square developed as a small arboretum; in 1878 it became a public park, based on a plan by Joshua Hoopes, a nurseryman.

Basin to Monument
Although most of its large and exotic trees are gone, a few remain, and it is worth walking through the park to find them. The southwest corner originally held a basin for West Chester’s water supply; now it features the Soldiers’ Monument honoring the 97th Regiment of the Civil War.

Humphry Marshall
Its founders named the square after their 18th century predecessor, botanist Humphry Marshall. Marshall was born in 1722 and never went to school after the age of twelve; yet (appropriately for a cousin of William Bartram, America’s most celebrated explorer/botanist) he published in 1785 “Arbustum Americanum, the American Grove,” the first botanical essay in the Western hemisphere! Marshallton, four miles to the west of West Chester, also bears his name, for he acquired the land on which that village stands.


Brick Swale Restoration in Marshall Square Park
A Girl Scout Gold Award Project
by Rose Scott, August 1998

See how, in April 2006, we preserved the Park’s Brick Swales in the FMSP Logo

Humphry Marshall Ceremony • June 27, 2007
Guests and representatives of Friends of Marshall Square Park, the Marshall Fund Committee, Borough Mayor Dick Yoder, The Chester County Historical Society, Borough Recreation Commission, the Marshall Family and the Humphry Marshall Ceremony Committee gathered today to unveil the long overdue (159 years) marker honoring the Park’s namesake. Thanks to FMSP Secretary, Jim Salvas, we have PHOTOGRAPHS to mark the event, proclaimed Humphry Marshall Day by Mayor Yoder. Read the Daily Local News article

Our Home page carried the following for the five months preceding today’s culmination of the historic event:

     The Park Gets Marked

The Friends of Marshall Square Park and the Humphry Marshall family trust worked together to create a Historical Marker to celebrate creating the park and the life of its namesake. Designed to show both the style and proportions of the existing General Lafayette marker, on the North Matlack Street side of Marshall Square Park, the new marker was installed on the East Biddle side of the park to create a new point of interest for all to enjoy.

This is the text for the Historical Marker:Marshall Square Park

West Chester’s first public square, dedicated in 1848. Recognized at the time for having one of the best collections of trees and shrubs with 160 distinct species. Named in honor of Humphry Marshall (1722 -1801), a world-renowned botanist from Chester County and cousin of John Bartram. In 1764, Marshall constructed a conservatory on his farm for the culture of rare plants. His definitive book on native American trees and shrubs, Arbustrum Americanum, is recognized as the first treatise written by an American on American plants. His home still stands in the village of Marshallton.

Read the Daily Local News article

Luminarias for Old Fashioned Christmas • November 30, 2007
Friends of Marshall Square Park surrounded the Park with hundreds of luminarias (PHOTOGRAPHS) in conjunction with the Borough’s Old Fashioned Christmas.

Dawn L’Heureux emailed FMSP on January 26, 2012…

Hi, I hope late is still better than never—I’ve been meaning to tell someone in the Friends of MSP how gorgeous the neighborhood was on Dec 2nd. That was the first time I’d gotten up there on parade night to see the luminaria; usually I’ve sold tickets or guided in costume and then found it hard to go home, change, and get up there in a timely fashion. I don’t remember if the luminaria hours are listed in the Old Fashioned Christmas events guide. They should be, with an explanation that it’s only a short walk up to the Park after the parade or down to the parade after parking way “up north.” The neighbors do a wonderful, very professional job. —Dawn

FMSP set up the luminaria only for the first two or three years. Since then, Boy Scout Troop 14, who meet weekly at the United Methodist Church on High Street, get community-service credit for setting up around the Park. The Scouts also sell the luminaria throughtout the neighborhood at 2 for $1 and will even set them up for a small fee.

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