1850 to 1900

Media Becomes the New County Seat

The Borough of Media was incorporated by a special Act of Assembly on March 11, 1850. The Media Courthouse, constructed in the neoclassical style, was completed in May of 1851 and the first court session was held there on August 25, 1851.

Also completed in 1850 was the County jail, which was located behind the courthouse.

Growth of the Town

Media soon changed from pastures and meadows to an elaborate town. Water was first supplied from what is now known as Broomall's Lake; however, due to the town's growth and demand, water was later supplied by Ridley Creek in 1872. The waterworks were enlarged in 1898, pumping 500,000 gallons a day.

Businesses sprouted and the population grew:

  • In 1849, the Black Building was the first building and store constructed on State Street and South Avenue. It sold groceries and farm implements.
  • In 1855, Haldeman's Store at the northeast corner of State and Olive Streets sold groceries, dry goods, household goods, and feed.
  • Also in 1855, a confectioner's store, Bossard and Bowers, stood at 214 West State Street.
  • In 1868, Snowden's opened for business and continued in operation until a fire destroyed the building in 1976.
  • In 1870, Gustave Kugler opened a hair-cutting and shaving establishment.
  • In 1871, the Ellis Pharmacy opened for business at the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Orange Street.
  • Numerous other businesses from cigar shops to coal and ice companies opened their doors during these years.

In August 1851 a line of stagecoaches traveling from Media to the old County Seat of Chester went into operation. There were several livery businesses in operation in the town for the hiring out of horses and buggies. At one time there was a stable located at the corner of State and Jackson Street where the stagecoach line ended. The stagecoaches were used until the West Chester and Philadelphia railroad began operation in 1856.

Churches Are Founded

In 1827, Campbell A.M.E. Church was established as the first black church in the local area.  Between 1850-1900, it was followed by several congregations, including:

  • Media Presbyterian Church
  • Trinity U.A.M.E. Church
  • First Baptist Church
  • First Methodist Church
  • Nativity B.V.M Catholic Church
  • Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, and
  • Second Baptist Church


Schools were quickly established in this evolving community. The first school board in Media was organized in March of 1856. Within six weeks, a one-room brick schoolhouse with a staff of two teachers gave the town its first public school. This structure can still be seen today at Lemon Street, just north of State Street.

Media schools, public and private, drew students from every state in the Union. The most well-known was Brooke Hall Seminary for girls. One of its graduates, Miss Ida Saxton, later became the wife of President William McKinley. The Swithen C. Shortlidge Military Academy prepared many students for West Point and Annapolis. Other schools that opened were Media Friends School, Sprogell School, and Graysdale School.

Media Fire and Hook and Ladder Company Number 1

The first fire equipment, a hand engine pump and several hundred feet of leather hose was provided by the Media Town Council soon after the town was established. In the year of 1889, the Media Fire and Protection Association was organized with George Darlington as its first president. Later, members of a veteran's club became volunteer members of the fire company on March 11, 1890. On October 6, 1891, a charter was granted to form the Media Fire and Hook and Ladder Co. Number 1.

Media Post Office

The early post offices of Media were located in the business or home of whoever happened to be the postmaster. At one time, a post office was located in the Black Building, which operated from 1853 to 1857.

Media's first official post office building was located on the southeast corner of State and Plum Streets. On March 2, 1896, trolley car Number 32 of the Chester Traction Company made the first trip from Chester to Media with U.S. mail from the Chester Post Office for delivery to the town's residents.

Media Police

Media relied on constables for routine police work for the first approximately 27 years of its history. On January 9, 1877, Borough Council named two regular police officers for the night hours. From February 1877 until 1893, part-time policemen were employed. Reorganization of the police department began on August 16, 1893, when James McKniff was appointed Chief of Police and Fire Marshall. Chief McKniff operated the department with three men in addition to himself.


Many changes took place in Media during this time - the town was alive with all kinds of professionals and tradesmen. "Horseless carriages" came into being and appliances to make life easier were being welcomed into homes. Life in Media was good, and as the motto explains: "In Media's footsteps all may safely follow."

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